Careers in Peacemaking and Social Change

PeacemakersWhy Am I A Peace Activist? Why Aren't You?

Written for the collection, "Why Peace?"

More than any other description, except for perhaps husband and father, I have been for the past six years a peace activist. Yet, I hesitate on the question of how to tell my personal story of experience with war. I recently visited Afghanistan briefly, in order to speak with people who have experienced war. I've spoken with many U.S. soldiers and non-U.S. victims of war. But I have no experience of war. Being in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, doesn't change that; by the time a crime had been transformed into a war, the war had been moved elsewhere.

I know a Vietnam veteran who opposed that war but grew so tired of being told he wasn't qualified to do so that he joined up. When he got back, and for decades since, he's been opposing wars with the benefit of the aura of someone who knows war. I don't have that, and I certainly do not want it. I value war opposition by those who have known war, but I value other war opposition as well. And I imagine we can all spot the fatal flaw in any proposal that would have people experience wars before they could oppose them. In 2006 a congressional candidate and Iraq veteran in Ohio who was speaking on a panel with me urged military "service" on all politicians so that they could oppose militarism with greater knowledge of the military. Raise your hand if you think that would work.

So, the obvious question is probably how I became a peace activist. To my mind, however, the question has always been why anybody is not. I understand there are not a lot of job openings for professional peace activists, but there are unlimited part-time volunteer positions.

When I was a kid growing up in Northern Virginia in a family that had no one in the military and no one opposing the military, we had a guest visit. He very much wanted to see the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. So we drove him over there and showed him around. He was quite impressed. But I became physically ill. Here was a beautiful sunny town full of people enjoying life and people being trained to murder other people in large numbers. To this day I cannot imagine why I need a particular explanation for finding that unbearably revolting. I want to hear an explanation from someone who doesn't find it so.

Oh, they'll tell us, we all find war to be troubling, but being a grown up means having the stomach to do what's needed to prevent something worse.

The thing is, I never much trusted grown ups. I wasn't revolted by the idea of war for myself, while willing to let others engage in it. I refused to take it on faith that such a horror as war could be justified -- for anyone. After all, like all kids, I had been taught to work out problems with words rather than fists. I had been told that it was wrong to kill. And, like almost all people, I was viscerally inclined to resist the idea of killing anyone. If I was going to accept that in some cases it was right to kill lots and lots of people, and that it was right to always be training and building a huge war machine just in case such a situation arose, then someone was going to have to prove that claim to me.

In my experience, common wisdom was often wildly wrong. A huge industry of churches was maintained on Sundays to promote ideas that my parents took seriously, and most people took seriously, but which struck me as utter nonsense. The idea that war was peace came to seem to me so nonsensical on its face, that I'd only believe it if offered proof. Yet, all such thinking was in the back of my head. I never thought I'd work as a peace activist until the moment I found myself doing so at age 35. It took me years of traveling, studying, dropping out of architecture school, teaching English in Italy, picking up a Master's in Philosophy at the University of Virginia, and working as a reporter and a press person before I found my way.

I became an activist in my late 20s on domestic issues of criminal justice, social justice, and labor rights. I became a professional activist at age 30 when I went to work for ACORN, the association of community groups that scared so many powerful people that it was slandered in the media, defunded, and destroyed several years later, after I had moved on. I protested the first Gulf War and the build up to a 2003 war on Iraq. But I became something of a spokesperson and writer against war when I worked as press-secretary for Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign in 2004. He made peace the number one issue in his platform. We talked about peace, trade, and healthcare -- and not much on trade or healthcare.

In 2005 I found myself working on a campaign to impeach and prosecute President George W. Bush for lying the nation into war. This meant working closely with and becoming a part of the peace movement, even while engaged in something less than peaceful: seeking to put someone on trial and imprison him. I immersed myself in online and real-world activism, organizing, educating, and protesting. I strategized, lobbied, planned, wrote, protested, went to jail, did interviews, and pressed for peace.

There are downsides and seeming hypocrisy to the peace movement. We don't always behave peacefully toward each other. We don't always share the same vision. Some groups favor peace when doing so helps a particular political party and are otherwise very accepting of war. Some honestly think particular wars are crimes but others justified. Some try to work with corrupted insiders. Some try to bring pressure from outside the halls of power. Some try, with great difficulty, to bridge some of those gaps.

But my peace movement experience overall has been incredibly positive. I've made good friends that I see a handful of times a year, on stages or in streets, and as often as not in police vans. The fulltime peace activists, most of whom have other fulltime paid employment, those who serve no particular organization, but who hold the movement together with their spirit and reliability: these are people with more great stories than any writer will ever get onto paper or computer screens. These are the people for whom, outside of my family, I am most grateful. If any of them had ever been visible in the way that military recruiters and toy soldiers are visible, perhaps I would have found my way to the peace movement sooner.

My focus or approach may evolve, but I cannot imagine ever leaving. In 2009 and 2010, I wrote two books, the second one on the question of whether any war had ever been justified. The title is a giveaway of the conclusion I reached: "War Is A Lie." And it isn't just any lie. It is the justification of the worst thing anyone has ever devised. Ending it now is no longer just a question of making the world more pleasant, but a question of survival. Weapons proliferation, blowback, economic collapse, environmental collapse, political collapse: choose your poison; war will destroy us in one or more of these manners unless we put an end to it. Why in the world would anyone not want to?

Source: David Swanson - War is a Crime

Here are some recommended links available to better inform you about careers in Peacemaking and Social Change. This is a work in progress and NNOMY will be adding new documents as they are prepared and as policies change that effect enlistment. Check back periodically.




  • Peace, Anti-War - The Alliance for Global Justice has a long history of advocacy for just peace that is  manifested in our various projects and campaigns. For instance, we actively support the peace process in Colombia, oppose US intervention in Venezuela via military and financial support for violent golpistas, emphasize the role of US Empire and militarism in climate change, and oppose the blockade of Cuba and occupation of Guantánamo. AfGJ has participated in and even co-founded some of the major anti-war coalitions and networks opposing US wars. While we don’t have an ongoing peace/anti-war committee, project or campaign, we will continue to support the movement to end wars and militarism and will periodically post relevant links, announcements and resources on this page.

  • DC Trainer's Network

    The DC Trainers’ Network monthly skillshare is a structured, interactive space where people can share skills and gain confidence in their training abilities and everybody is both a teacher and a learner. We strive to provide an inclusive practice space to experiment with different approaches for learning and teaching. This skillshare seeks to strengthen the DC activist community’s ability to meet the needs of progressive social movements.  Organized by the Washington Peace Center.

  • Highlander Center 
    Highlander serves Appalachia and the South with programs designed to build strong and successful social-change activism and community organizing led by the people who suffer most from the injustices of society. Highlander helps activists to become more effective community educators and organizers, informed about the important issues driving conditions in communities today. Highlander was founded in 1932 and has a long and powerful history, particularly in the labor and civil rights movements.

  • DART Center (Direct Action and Research Training Center)
    DART’s mission is to engage congregations in a process of building congregation-based community organizations that have the power to pursue and win justice. The DART Organizers Institute is a paid, field school created to recruit and train great community organizers, as well as strengthen DART’s mission to build power and win justice.

  • Midwest Academy 
    Midwest Academy is a leading national training institute for the progressive movement. The Academy advances the movements for social change by teaching a strategic, rigorous, results-oriented approach to social action and organization building. The Academy provides training (introductory and advanced level) and consulting, equipping organizers, leaders, and their organizations to think and act strategically to win justice for all.

  • Training for Change
    Since 1992, Training for Change has been committed to increasing capacity around the world for activist training, specializing in training for trainers. When they say activist training, they mean training that helps groups stand up more effectively for justice, peace and the environment. They deliver skills directly that people working for social change can use in their daily work. Their website also has a lot of great resources for leading your own trainings on a variety of topics.

  • Green Corps
    Green Corps’ Field School for Environmental Organizing trains college graduates to run environmental campaigns, from building a core group of activists to convincing decision-makers to pass laws, change policies and create reforms to protect our environment. It is a one-year, full-time, paid program that includes intensive classroom training, hands-on field experience running urgent environmental and public health campaigns, and career placement in positions with leading environmental groups.

  • New Organizing Institute (NOI)
    The New Organizing Institute was created by organizers who use all available new (and "seasoned") technologies to spark and coordinate activity both online and offline.  By training new online organizers and technologists, our goal is to infuse this new field with talented staff, to connect and energize a new generation of progressive activists, and to solidify long-term progressive power.

  • Rockwood Leadership Institute 
    Rockwood teaches skills and tools that help grassroots and policy reform leaders overcome organizational challenges; inspire and align individuals and organizations toward producing quality outcomes; develop collaborative skills; decrease "burn-out"; and create organizations that celebrate sustainability and diversity.

  • Wellstone Action!
    This national network trains progressive activists, organizers, and candidates in communities all over the country.

  • Center for Progressive Leadership
    The CPL provides leadership trainings for activists and potential electoral candidates and staff, and connects young people with paid internships at progressive organizations.

  • Washington Peace Center - If you can't find what you're looking for, get in touch with the Peace Center and we'll help you get trained in whatever you need to know.

    Where to find help for leading your own training:

    Network for Good 

    Website that offers online nonprofit fundraising trainings and a large archive of past trainings.

    RANT Collective 
    The Root Activist Network of Trainers is a small collective that provides training, action planning, and support for various social justice groups and mobilizations across the world. Their website has a fantastic collection of invaluable educational materials dealing with action planning, anti-oppression, and consensus decision-making.

    Organizing for Power 
    Lisa Fithian has been organizing for 35 years between the global justice, anti-war, student, labor, and environmental movements, and has collected all her resources and knowledge here on her website. Look here for some excellent conceptual tools to think about power, strategy, and organizing for social change and liberation.

    Materials to download:

    Accessible Organizing/Facilitation - Resources for accessible organizing and movement-building

    Media Training - prep a group for interviews, press events and press releases 

    Media Workshop Handout - reviewing press tips and template for press releases

    Legal Support Training - train a group on how to do legal support for direct action

    Legal Support/Affinity Group Role Play - a great tool to use in a training on the importance of setting up a legal support system for direct actions

    Nonviolent Direct Action Training Agenda - a 4 hour agenda that can be adjusted for your training slot

    Social Media Prep for Actions - Prep work and tips for using social media to compliment and advance your actions

    Social Media Resources - Websites, tools, resources, and helpful guides on social media for activists

Source: Washington Peace Center

Actions & Networks


Activist Resources:


Resources for Children:

Websources for Peace Education by Teaching For Peace

Funders of Peacemaking

Fellowship and Career Opportunities for Social Justice:

Organizations you should know

Source: Teaching For Peace

Articles on the web:


Revised 06/28/2017

  • Peace Magazine

  • Gold Star Families for Peace

  • Veterans Against War

  • Canadian Peace Alliance

  • The Occupation Project

  • Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee

  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence

  • Physicians for Global Survival

  • Quakers in Britan

  • Peace Brigades International

  • Mahatma Gandhi Foundation for Peace

  • Antiwar

  • International Peace Bureau

  • MoveOn

  • Peace Pledge Union

  • Peace is Possible

  • Waging Peace
  • Amnesty International

  • Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers

  • Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

  • M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

  • Peace Action

  • The Compassionate Listening Project

  • Stop War
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
  • 50 Years is Enough
  • Independent Media Centre
  • Infact
  • Institute for Global Communications
  • International Rivers Network
  • Jobs With Justice
  • One World International
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • Stop the War Machine

  • Non Violent Peace Force

  • World Peace Prayer Society

  • Le Mouvement De La Paix

  • Culture of Peace

  • Sept.11 Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow

  • Conscience and Peace Tax

  • Peace Tax Seven
  • World Unity Flag Society

  • Ploughshares

  • Pax Service Civil International

  • Friends United Meeting

  • New York Quakers

  • Philadelphia Quakers

  • Peace Brigades International

  • International Peace Bureau

  • M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

  • Pax Service Civil International

  • Salt of the Earth

Finding Alternatives

There are many reasons people consider joining the military. You may be thinking about money for college, job training or the physical challenge. You may just need to get out of the house, out of the neighborhood, out on your own. You may want to travel, serve your country, or do something meaningful with your life.

Before you consider enlistment, it is important to know of the hundreds of other options available for you.


Paying for College

The government provides financial aid to help students pay for college. There are also millions of dollars available in scholarships and grants.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Apply for student financial aid from the federal government, including grants, loans, & work-study. Its free. You can download FAFSA forms in English or Spanish, get help filling out the forms and track the status of your application.
Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

Scholarship Search Tools. There are several web tools that help you search for scholarships.

Various National Scholarships and Grants

Getting Ready For College

Free SAT/ACT Test Prep:

A Web-based Course to Help Students Prepare for College.

Job Training & Trade Schools:

Want to become a culinary artist or learn cosmetology? Maybe, you want to learn a skilled trade that will provide you with a good living. If this type of future is where you see yourself heading, but you don’t have the necessary skills, you can get job training from a variety of sources. Non-profits, community colleges, large corporations and vocational schools provide the necessary skills training to do a variety of jobs and skilled trades. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate among military veterans age 20-24 is three times higher than the national average. Before you think about the military, check out these options.

Directories and Databases

Be sure to do a background check on a school before signing up. Many of them are completely legit, but some are a rip-off. Here are some tips on how to do this.

National Opportunities>

  • Job Corps. This program gets you out of the house, and provides academic, vocational, and social skills training you need to gain independence and get quality, long-term jobs or further your education.
  • YouthBuild. Teaches young people how to build new homes for people in need, and new lives for themselves. Receive a combination of classroom academic and job skills development and on-site training in a construction trade.
  • Americorps. Jobs in all types of community programs. Provides training, work experience, stipend and scholarships.

Finding a Job

Finding a job is a lot of work. Start by checking out your local newspapers to get an idea of what is out there and what you are qualified for.

Job Search Sites:

See the World : Living/Working/Volunteering Abroad

“Traveling” with the military doesn’t exactly mean traveling. If you are lucky enough not to get sent to a war zone, you’ll spend most of your time on a US military base, oftentimes to a country that doesn’t welcome the US Army. “Traveling” with the Navy can mean 6 months confined to a ship, without ever going ashore. If this is not what you have in mind, there are many other options.

  • Peace Brigades International (Guatemala, Columbia, and Indonesia). PBI offers volunteer positions, paid job positions (which are limited) and internships.
  • Service Civil International. Has short term (2- weeks) and long term (3-12 months) opportunities that costs approximately $175 plus cost of travel. Includes food and housing.
  • VE Global Voluntarios de la Esperanza. This program offers an intensive (living with host family) and part time (mostly administrative work) program in Chile. This unpaid program last three months and will require some out of pocket expenses.
  • Operations Crossroads Africa Volunteers. Volunteer work in Africa. Program costs $3500.
  • Independent Volunteer. Volunteer database of work around the world organized by country and type of work.
  • Global Crossroad. Global Crossroad organizes volunteer and internship programs.
  • Global Volunteers. Global Volunteers organizes teams of volunteers to work in local communities and help with projects run by local leaders.

There are many useful books and websites on cheap travel. You can get them at your local library or buy them used on for very little money.

  • Finding Voluntary Work Abroad: All the Information You Need for Getting Valuable Work Experience Overseas (How-to Series) by Mark Hempshell
  • Cheap!: "How-To" Strategies and Tips for Free Flights & Cheap Travel, by Vicki Mills
  • You Can Travel Free, Robert William Kirk
  • How to Go Almost Anywhere for Almost Nothing, Maureen Hennessy
  • Encyclopedia of Cheap Travel (Updated Annually), Terrance Zepke

Challenge Yourself

There are many ways to challenge yourself physically & mentally. There are other careers that command respect. Here are some things to check out:

Serving your Country

Many young people feel that the only way they can serve their country and community is to join the military. That is not true! There are many opportunities to become a hero, build communities, and promote peace and justice without risking your life or taking another.

An excellent book of alternatives called “It’s My Life” is available FREE to youth. Websites that can give you some ideas, tips, next steps, and local, national, and international professional and volunteer opportunities:


For more information:
Ya-Ya Network*

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Project YANO

War Resisters League
212-288-6193 / 212-288-0450

Central Committee for Conscience Objectors (CCCO)

New York Civil Liberties Union
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*The Ya-Ya Network compiled this document.



 Revised 10/13/2017

Alternatives to the Military

 Go To The New Peaceful Career Alternatives Website for the latest resources on building your future without joining the Military!

Choose your alternative to a military career optionCivilian Corps | Cultural | Green | Intern/Train | Jobs | Mentors | More Sites | Prepare | Public Service | Schools/Scholarship | Sports | Travel | Volunteer

The CCC wants its corpsmembers to enter the working world with the education they need to be successful,One of the best things counter recruitment activists can do is to offer concrete career, life and education alternatives to what the military offers. People enlist for a variety of reasons such as: money for college, job training/skills, direction in life, discipline, to be part of a team, travel, to serve their country, to get out of trouble with the law, physical training, even citizenship. It is important to keep all of these in mind when talking to young people.

Also keep in mind that young people may have hidden motivations such as wanting simply to be more respected. Some may need to escape a difficult home environment or abusive relationship or deal with other problems in their life. Young people do not always share these deeper reasons for wanting to enlist, so listen closely. Stock answers about education and job opportunities may not be helpful in such a case, but they may help a young person to think of other ways to get out of a bad situation.


Also see our Alternatives by State Section by clicking on the Map Below to download a PDF Brochure by State.




Some non-military options for youth listed alphabetically:
Click on a link below to get you started

Civilian Corp Opportunities & Community Service

AmeriCorps | AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country. AmeriCorps programs do more than move communities forward; they serve their members by creating jobs.

City Year Corps | You can make a difference. In schools. In classrooms. In neighborhoods. City Year corps members serve full-time at one of 24 locations across the United States as tutors and mentors, running after-school programs and leading youth leadership programs.

Earth Corps | environmental service is a uniquely effective way to build community. When people put their hands into the dirt together and see their efforts transform a threatened area into a more vibrant landscape, they forge a special bond, empowering themselves and their community.
Global Peace Youth Corps | is the youth arm of the international GPF movement. GPYC strives to positively impact the youth culture by bringing together young leaders of all faiths, cultures, nationalities, and interests under a common vision and universal principles.
Green Job Corps | CaliforniaVolunteers brings together a statewide network of local volunteer connector agencies and online volunteer connector tools to provide support and help recruit volunteers for our state’s nonprofits and public agencies. National Conservation Corps | are comprehensive youth development programs that provide their participants with job training, academic programming, leadership skills, and additional support through a strategy of service that improves communities and the environment.
Peace Corps | is working in emerging and essential areas such as information technology and business development. Peace Corps Volunteers continue to help countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities. Public Allies | advances new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation. Since 1992, we have been developing a new generation of diverse leaders and promoting innovative leadership practices that meet the demands of changing times.
ServiceNation | is working towards the day when a year in a national service program like AmeriCorps is a common expectation for Americans, and when national service is universally accepted as a strategy for putting people to work, tackling pressing social challenges and uniting Americans in common purpose. Student Conservation Association | is where tens of thousands of green professionals, from park superintendents to urban planners, can trace their start.  This is where college and high school students connect with nature, render hands-on service, gain new skills and perspectives, and launch a lifetime of stewardship.
United We Serve Corporation for national and Community Service, | President Obama’s nationwide service initiative. This initiative aims to both expand the impact of existing organizations by engaging new volunteers in their work and encourage volunteers to develop their own "do-it-yourself" projects. Youth Conservation Corps | National parks are in disrepair. Historic buildings are crumbling, native species are losing the fight to invasive species, trails are disappearing. We need you! Get paid to accomplish needed conservation work on public lands.

Cultural and Art Activism

Art activism, both directly within movements and in the surrounding culture, has been a key element of social protest. At this Link you can explore a list assembled of some general resources on the topic that give a sampling of the vast field and wide array of materials available online and in libraries. In addition to these resources, there are numerous sites and works of art activism cited in the various individual movement pages. Cultural & Art Activismhas emerged, mainly among urban youth, as a counter-cultural movement of the arts. Identifying itself with social movement themes, counter-militarism, racial and sexual discrimination for example, but focused on addressing these social problems through cultural expression, this type of activism has become a  gathering community that did not historically identify with the mainstream arts or social movements.

Green Opportunities and Activism

A New Way Forward | is a public platform and volunteer structural-reform thinking group to transform politics and the economy for the public good. We are dedicated to structural change in the political economy. Communities for a Better Environment | Building community power to achieve environmental justice takes shared strategies and resources. Creating alliances to build a strong movement is our core strategy.
Community Organizing | attempts to bring together theory and practice, and academics and organizers, to advance the craft of community organizing. Wisconsin based.
Grassroots Job Source | Orion Magazine operates a Grassroots Jobsource for those looking for emplyment opportunities out of the mainstream or want a green career.
International Youth Climate Movement | Youths involved in global climate change activism & the UNFCCC negotiation process use online media as their key communication and organisation tool.
Non-profit work | | You know you want to do something good, but have no idea where or how to start. You have an idea for a project, but need some supporters before taking the leap.

Open Space Institute | is a Citizen Action Program has provided a home for a broad range of environmental projects started by concerned citizens who want to make their world a better place. New York State
Outward Bound Adventuresprovide meaningful nature-based education that promotes positive self-development, environmental responsibility, and outdoor career exposure for urban youth.
Student Conservation Association | (SCA) is America’s conservation corps. Our members protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces in all 50 states.

Teens 4 Good | Philadelphia is a youth-led entrepreneurial farm that transforms vacant lots into urban gardens/farms, access to healthy food for communities, creating meaningful jobs for at-risk youth.
The Los Angeles Community Garden Counciloperates 70 community gardens  in Los Angles County, serving 3,900 families. Community gardens are vibrant, cooperative organizations that build neighborhood self-reliance. The Youth Environmental Stewardship | or “YES” Program was launched to develop a cadre of youth stewards and community based workforce to steward nature in resource challenged communities.

Internships and Training Search searchis the world’s largest internship marketplace bringing students, employers and higher education institutions together in one centralized location.
Job training programs Search | The Department of Labor's ETA funds job training programs to improve the employment prospects of adults, youth, and dislocated workers.
On Earth Peace Intern Program | On Earth Peace helps you build peace…in yourself, family, church, community, nation, and world. Our professional staff and network of experienced volunteers provide skills, support, and spiritual foundations for overcoming violence with the power of love, through a range of powerful programs of training and accompaniment.  

Jobs Search

Teens for Hire | If you are a teen 14 to 19 looking for a full-time, part-time, summer, seasonal, volunteer or vocational job, Join Now and create your membership profile. On CareerOneStopyou can search for jobs, explore careers. develop your resume and it is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor,Employment and Training Administration.
L.A. Youth at Work is respected by over 150 companies, who appreciate the quality of our candidates.  Preparing yourself by earning the Certificate reduces your stress and leads to success with a job or paid internship, so get started now. Occupation Finder | Occupational Outlook Handbook is a resource of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor and provides information on what workers do; the work environment; education, training, and other qualifications. Very useful tool.

Mentorship Opportunities Search

The Center for Green Schools | support undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in pursuing studies and careers in fields related to sustainability by offering their mentees  networking opportunities and career building experiences. The National Mentoring Partnership | helps children by delivering resources to mentoring programs nationwide and promoting quality for mentoring through standards, cutting-edge research and state of the art tools.

Other Non-military Opportunities Pages

Alternatives to the Military/AFSC/Documents/National"It's My Life"  (national guide to be used anywhere in the U.S.) details alternative options to military service that still satisfy a taste for adventure and commitment to high ideals. Alternatives to Military Service/Michigana military alternatives page that came out if that was a leftist blog and news website covering Grand Rapids, Michigan. No longer an active group.
Alternative Ways to Meet Your Goals Without Joining The Military | a military alternatives page by the New York American Civil Liberties Union. Note: This page is in the process of being updated. Please excuse broken links. Enlistment Alternatives | Very well researched links to military enlistment alternatives by Rogue Valley Peace Veterans of Oregon. Categories include: Self Assesment, Apprenticeships, Start Your Own Business, International Volunteer Work/Internship Exchanges, & much more
Safe Passage Network's Alternatives to the Military | Before you consider enlistment, it is important to know of the other options available for you. Alternative Ways to Meet Your Goals Without Joining The Military Non-military Opportunities/Project YANO/San DiegoA military alternative document selection. All are formatted for printing and one document covers the issue of careers in social change.
Project Great Futures/Los Angelesworks to provide Southern California youth with information about alternatives to military enlistment. We look for and promote programs and services which support, affirm, and encourage young people to fulfill their dreams. Youth Activists  - Youth Allies Alternatives Page/New York CityGet A Life...Alternative Ways to Meet Your Goals Without Joining The Military.  A page from the YAYA Network in New York City that focuses on youth activism and educational options for youth at risk.
Youth career alternatives: counter recruitment / Chico Peace & Justice Center | is committed to helping young people find options beside the military for their future. For that reason our counter recruitment group has made this list of scholarships you can apply to online, as well as places you can find more.  

Preparing for School and Jobs

CalApprenticeshipsunion apprenticeship is an excellent career choice if you like to work with your hands; are willing to serve an apprenticeship for up to five years, depending on the trade you select. Campaign for College Opportunity | is to ensure that the next generation of California students has the chance to attend college and succeed in order to keep our workforce strong.
CSUMentoris a website designed to help students and their families learn about the California State University (CSU) system. The CSU is comprised of 23 excellent campuses. EdFund | is the United States' second largest provider of student loan guarantee services under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).
Families in Schools | involve parents and communities in their children’s education to achieve lifelong student success.Families In Schools envisions a public education system where students have all the opportunities and resources necessary to succeed in school and in life.
Foundation for Second Chances, Inc  | offers hands-on education, mentoring, health awareness and community service to maximize the potential of youth including a quality education, nutritious food and exercise, and a safe and nurturing environment.

Public Service Careers

Public Service Careers | The field of public service encompasses professionals in organizations that prevent and fight crime, prepare for emergencies, and respond to accidents and natural and human-caused disasters. In addition to promoting and ensuring the overall well being of the general public, public service careers are also known for step-by-step advancement and promotion opportunities, employment stability, and strong employee benefits. Public Heath Careers Online | The following guide leverages expert interviews, information and resources to better understand the various educational options needed to enter, advance and succeed in the field.  Public health involves medical care provided within a community and outside a hospital setting. Public health can have global repercussions and refer to efforts to prevent epidemics and improve the health of entire nations.

Schools, Scholarships, and Grants

College & Universities Searchis an educational search site by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Center for Education Statistics.
Trade schools Search | The RWM Vocational School database provides a database of Private Postsecondary Vocational Schools in 50 states. It is organized first by state, then by Training Occupation.

College Affordability Guide | The goal of the CAG site is to provide information that will help prospective students find and complete degrees that might actually move their careers forward and with schools that provide the most affordable costs in achieving that degree. | provides information about HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) classes and the instructors who teach them, as well as HVAC specialization, accreditation, and certification on a national basis. HVAC careers have a good to excellent outlook due to green energy initiatives.
GoodCall | integrates data and technology to make finding scholarships easier for students and their families. And, unlike other scholarship search sites, we’re totally free and open – no fee or account sign-up required. View thousands of scholarships, filter results by specific requirements, and even search by competition level and entry difficulty.
Apply for Grants | U.S. Government Grants Application Site | Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. At the office of Federal Student Aid, our 1,200 employees provide more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 15 million students for college or career school.
Federal Government Pell Grant | A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. The maximum Pell grant for the 2011-12 award year (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012) is $5,550.The amount depends on your financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.
Federal Work Study Program | provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students to finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students can receive FWS funds at approximately 3,400 participating postsecondary institutions. Hourly wages must not be less than the federal minimum wage.

Start HERE

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

SallieMae College Answer Scholarship Search | is the nation's No. 1 financial services company specializing in education. Celebrating 40 years of making a difference, Sallie Mae continues to turn education dreams into reality for American families, today serving 25 million customers. With products and services including college savings plans,

Scholarships categorized by race and ethnicity| National database of scholarships with this section focusing on grants available to specific ethnicities. Additional information includes search by category. Also lists of student loan application sources, nursing training and funding resources and a top school list.

Scholarships for Averagefrom every walk of life are available. Such scholarship opportunities for average students are changing the face of college campuses which are no longer reserved just for the straight-laced academic.
Scholarships for First GenerationAccess to higher education is an important measure of progress, so families that are sending their first members to college are given special consideration in the form of First in Family Scholarships. 
Scholarship Search Secrets E Book (PDF) Student Scholarship Searchdatabase is considered the largest and most comprehensive source for finding scholarships online and is 100% free for students to use.

Sports Opportunities

Sports Searchis an online sports and live events job match-making engine that connects 2.2 million applicants with the right jobs and 750+ employers with the right candidates, 93% of the time in the last year.
Volunteer Coaching Sports Abroad | Through well-established relationships with local teams, clubs, and carefully structured sports placements, we are able to assist volunteers regardless of coaching experience.

Traveling Opportunities

Appalachian Trail Conference | USA | Over 6000 volunteers contribute more than 200,000 hours each year keeping the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) available for all to use.  Volunteers are active in all aspects of Trail work, from basic maintenance to major projects such as building bridges and shelters and building new sections of the A.T. 
Conservation Volunteers | Australia and New Zealand recruits volunteers from Australia, New Zealand and around the world to join important environmental and wildlife conservation projects. If you'd like to make a difference, please join us.  We'd love your help.
Help Exchange | Worldwide is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
Habitat for Humanity | U.S./International | Be part of the solution, volunteers mobilized by Habitat for Humanity have participated primarily in construction activities. Today volunteers, while always taking action related to the theme of housing, provide much more.
Kibbutz Volunteer | Israel | Basically there are more jobs to do on a kibbutz than there are people to do them. You will not understand what a good time can be had unless you try it.
Peace Corps | Worldwide | Watch Peace Corps' film short, Be a Volunteer, and learn about the unique experience and benefits of service. Be part of our mission to promote world peace and friendship.
Pueblo Inglés, Spain |  We are always looking for professional, dedicated and above all enthusiastic individuals for different positions to work in a multicultural environment.
Trip Leader for HF Holidays, Europe | Volunteer as a walking holiday leader and experience, enthusiasm and common love of the great outdoors for our walking holidays.
Sea Turtle Conservancy | Experience sustainable travel with a splash of conservation by participating in STC's Eco-Volunteer Adventure in Costa Rica. This fun and educational opportunity blends research with an exotic location to get you involved in protecting endangered sea turtles.
Sea Turtle Restoration Project | To protect and restore endangered sea turtles and marine biodiversity worldwide in ways that incorporate the ecological needs of marine species and the economic needs of local communities, both of which share our common marine environment.
StudyAbroad |  Search our directory of study abroad programs, find scholarships, follow study abroad student bloggers or use our student guide to help you prepare for your study abroad adventure. Sudan Volunteer Programme | is a London based charity dedicated to sending graduates and under-graduates to Sudan to teach English at schools, colleges and Universities.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) | Worldwide programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. WWOOF | (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)link people who want to volunteer on organic farms to learn about organic lifestyles.

Volunteer Opportunities

AVSO-Association of Voluntary Service Organizations | represents all civil society organisations that run local, national or international voluntary service projects at the European level. California Volunteers | is the state office that manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service and volunteering.
Council on International Education Exchange | With the CIEE High School Abroad programs, U.S. high school students  take classes with native students and live with a native host family, which will challenge you to push your own boundaries and immerse yourself in another language and culture. EVS - the European Voluntary Service | This database contains information on all the organisations that are accredited for EVS.  It also informs if the organisation offers possibilities for young people with fewer oppportunities.
Global Crossroads | Since 2003, more than 10,000 world-travelers/volunteers have participated in Global Crossroad's Volunteer Abroad, Mini-Ventures, Adventure Travel, Seasonal Escapes, and to Teach Abroad. Global Volunteers | Travel That Feeds the Soul® Join a volunteer vacation abroad or a USA volunteer program for one to three weeks. Life-affirming service programs for families, groups and individuals.
Independent Volunteers | website is a resource to connect travelers to groups involved in environmental / humanitarian projects. Public Allies' | mission is to advance new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation.
United Nations Online Volunteer Programservice connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges. United Nations Volunteerspromotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer.
Volunteer Abroad  | Cross-Cultural Solutions operates a volunteer programs around the world in partnership with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding.

Youth Solidarity Organizations

World Youth AllianceUnited Nations is a global coalition of young people committed to promoting the dignity of the person and building solidarity among youth from developed and developing nations. We train young people to work at the regional and international levels to impact policy and culture. Through this lived experience of the dignity of the person, young people are able to affirm life at all levels of society.
Tear Down the WallsNational Gathering in Tucson, AZ, Nov. 1-3 will bring multiple movements to strategize and network together on how to build a more unified, powerful movement for transformational change in the US. We are working to tear down: Wall Street, the US border and Israeli apartheid walls, prison walls, the Pentagon militarism walls, oppression by race, gender, ethnicity, and personal identity.

You can research non-military options for youth in your area and create a brochure that describes each one and provides contact information as well. If you do, please forward the link to NNOMY at admin+at+nnomy+dot+org so we can refer to it when we develop a more expanded resource on Alternatives by region.

We also have compiled a collection that lists state-by-state what many opportunities are available complete with contact information. CLICK HERE to explore this resource.

Some other ideas include:

  • Host job/career fairs
  • Create and sustain scholarship funds for youth who are considering the military
  • Create and/or support after school programs
  • Ask local businesses and organizations if they are willing to support youth resisting the military by providing internships, job training, jobs, scholarships, mentorships, etc.
  • Host college information sessions (bring college pamphlets, FAFSA forms, students, college reps, class schedules, applications, etc.)
  • Host informational sessions on AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, City Year, etc.
  • Lobby/petition your local government to increase financial aid, institute more job training programs, support job opportunities for young people, get a trade school
  • Alternatives: Materials and Links
  • Finding Alternatives (in development)
  • Creating Alternative Materials (in development)
  • Career Fairs (in development)
  • For Guidance Counselors (in development)
  • For Parents
  • Building Allies (i.e. How To Engage Community Groups Fighting For More Alternatives) (in development)
  • Materials/Training
  • Find A Group


Revised 10/13/2017

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