This summer, five schools that have consistently demonstrated a commitment to peace and education will be awarded the Peace Leader Award.

Created by Pennies for Peace (P4P), CAI’s service-learning program, in honor of the organization’s 20th anniversary, the Peace Leader Awards are designed to recognize students and teachers around the U.S. who have made a difference in their own community and in the lives of people living in Central Asia.

This will be the first year that Pennies for Peace presents the awards.

“It seemed fitting seeing as how this is our, and Central Asia Institute’s, twentieth anniversary,” said Alanna Brown, Pennies for Peace manager. “We wanted to recognize those individuals who go above and beyond to demonstrate leadership and compassion, and bring hope and encouragement to others. They are the ones who want to give back and take responsibility for change.”

Our 2016 Peace Leaders Award winners have shown dedication to our mission by conducting multi-year P4P campaigns, starting on-campus Pennies for Peace clubs, and supporting local causes.

Congratulations to the 2016 Peace Leader Award winners:

  • Highland Elementary, Riverside, California
  • Cathedral High School, San Diego, California
  • Eastern Technical High School, Baltimore County, Maryland
  • B’nai Israel Religious School, Southbury, Connecticut
  • Monmouth-Roseville Junior-High School, Roseville, Illinois

peace leaders

Eastern Technical High School, Baltimore MD

Brown and Fozia Naseer, CAI Azad Jammu Kashmir program manager and former CAI scholarship recipient, will present the awards.

Fozia is a peace leader in her own way. She grew up the youngest of five children in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan. Her family always knew that education was important and encouraged her to attend college and eventually law school. But that wasn’t enough for the curious woman. A few years later Fozia was offered a scholarship through CAI and spent two years in Bozeman, Montana studying at Montana State University.

“While there, I came to realize that the place where I could do the most good and make the largest impact was back in my home country. I wanted to help train teachers in Pakistan. I kept thinking of all the girls who had no hope, opportunities, or access to education,” said Fozia.

Now, with the support of CAI and the Central Asia Educational Trust, a CAI partner organization in Pakistan, Fozia oversees 13 schools and vocational programs that support women and girls.

“The work being done by CAI and Pennies for Peace has a significant impact on the lives of women and children in Pakistan. The program has reached so many families in ways we can likely never measure. There are many reasons why promoting education in these regions is important, ranging from reduction in infant and maternal mortality rates to lowering the rate of child marriage, malnutrition, and domestic and sexual violence. But there’s one really important reason that seems to be particularly pertinent: education promotes peace. Education has been touted as one of the most powerful tools we can implement in our global efforts to promote world peace. I have seen this impact firsthand.”

Fozia’s inspirational story and dedication to education in Pakistan will show the Peace Leader award winners firsthand how their hard work and donation helps students get an education that will lead to a brighter future.

“My hope is that over the next 20 years more and more children, especially girls, will have access to good schools, be taught by qualified teachers, and obtain opportunities to better their lives and the lives of their families and community members. Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace are leading the way.”

Congratulations again to the 2016 Peace Leader Award Winners!

For more information, or to nominate a school for the 2017 Peace Leader Awards, please visit

“I’m planting a seed to build awareness about what is happening in other parts of the world – especially in places where girls are denied an education. At some point, that seed will grow and my students will become mindful, giving adults.”

– Pennies for Peace teacher, San Diego, CA