Jenny Chen ’13J is the latest Colby student to win a $10,000 Projects for Peace grant from philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, now 105 years old. This year Chen’s successful grant proposal is “Connecting the Dots: Peace Tour 2012.”

Ten previous Projects for Peace grants awarded to Colby students since 2007 have taken them to Kabul, Kosovo, and the highlands of Ecuador and other locations in the United States and around the world. Chen’s 2012 project will take her to Sioux Falls, Baton Rouge, and Delray Beach.

Her premise is that civic engagement instilled in children at a young age has been shown to have favorable correlations with crime rates, graduation rates, and standards of living. “Changemaking” organizations and communities in the United States have seen most success in major metropolitan areas so far, she says, and smaller cities and towns are fertile and fallow ground for incubating civic engagement, change, and, ultimately, sustainable peace.

Peace Tour 2012 will take Chen and her longtime collaborator, brother Jack Chen, across the country to hold workshops for middle school youth to inspire them to get involved in their own communities. Students who participate will be eligible for grants of up to $500 from the Peace Tour initiative to pursue projects in their own areas.

“Local projects to solve local problems will strengthen the local community by promoting greater trust and inspiring teamwork,” Chen said in her project proposal. The proposal also includes plans for follow-up activities that will connect participants in the smaller cities that currently show low levels of civic engagement with the goal of forming a broader, national change-making community.

This is Chen’s second successful Projects for Peace grant proposal. In 2010 she won a grant for a Maryland-based project that fostered discussion of community issues and helped middle school students who were immigrants begin problem solving in their own communities.

The Projects for Peace initiative was begun in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, when, in celebration of her 100th birthday, she funded 100 Projects for Peace.