Dare to Live in Peace

When I, as coroner, have to look at too many 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds on my autopsy tables, dead from gunshot wounds, I, too, have to speak out. Violence is rampant, it should not be a given; it is the byproduct of a disparity in social justice.

Dr. Anahi Ortiz, Franklin County Coroner, Columbus, OH
in a letter to the Columbus Dispatch


According to a March 26, 2021, segment on WBNS-TV, the city of Columbus set a single-year high for homicides in 2020. That total is expected to climb even higher in 2021. Felonious assaults have almost doubled since last year, and police say that the majority of the violence is being committed by juveniles and young adults under the age of 23.

What has caused this rise in violence? According to studies conducted by the Martin de Porres Center as part of its ten-year violence prevention initiative, a root cause of violence is individual and community low self-esteem and the accompanying feelings of disempowerment and loss of control. These are the factors on which the Center has focused in its violence prevention initiative, Dare to Live in Peace, or Atrévete a vivir en paz.

For more than a decade, The Martin de Porres Center has worked to slow the spread of violence in our community by offering Latinx youth the tools that they need to stand up to adversity and confrontation – tools like self-esteem, a sense of self-worth, resiliency, and interpersonal coping skills. Just as important is a focus on academic achievement and health and wellness. More than working with youth as an isolated population, we involve families – parents, siblings – to create pockets of peace in our community that can spread. We are building a change in Central Ohio, teaching young people that by accepting themselves, they can more easily accept those around them.

Many of the strategies that we have employed are taken from Common Spirit Health’s Violence Prevention Resource Guide, which details a specific model of stakeholder identification, needs assessment, program design, measurement and modification.

As a result, we’ve seen a 25% reduction in general violence and a 15% reduction in gun violence in the area that we serve. Teens are graduating high school, going on to college, and becoming leaders in their schools and communities.

Our staff is made up of culturally competent, Spanish-speaking laypeople, religious and professionals employed by or volunteering at the Martin de Porres Center. Just as important, the youth in our programs meet role models that look and sound like them. Check out our Facebook page to see a few of them!

Since its beginning in 2012, our violence prevention program Dare to Live in Peace has added new groups for young girls, high students, and families. We are blessed to receive significant funding from Common Spirit Health as well as local funders such as the Columbus Foundation, Ingram White Castle, The United Way, Catholic Foundation, and volunteers who offer their time and creativity.

Going forward, we will continue to maintain and build collaborative relationships with our local partners such as the Columbus Police Department, Sherriff’s Office, Parks and Recreation, Nationwide Children Hospital, and local leaders that can relate in experience and background with our youth. Our goal this summer and beyond is to expand our combined model of mentoring, tutoring, and hands-on experiences that can help their academic and future goals. Thanks to a generous grant from the City of Columbus, we will expand our Summer program to eight weeks, focusing on leadership skills, mental health, physical health, and safe relationships. We also believe that family relations are key and our goal is to ensure that parents are equipped to support the youth during summer and school year. We are committed to our anti-violence efforts through education and prevention.





Rising Youth is a group of smart, motivated, energized, fun, and full of life 13 – 18-year-old students. They have adult role models and work in a diverse and positive environment. Rising Youth meet every other Thursday from 4:30 – 7:30 at Martin de Porres Center. If your teenager needs homework help and wants to be part of a positive movement, contact Youth Coordinator Mayra Betances at 614-416-1084 or by email: mayra.betances@oppeace.org.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates.


Leadership for Peace is a skills-based learning experience that provides participants with tools and resources related to building peace as leaders in the community.

Our topics include:

  • Qualities of a Leader
  • Community & Stewardship
  • Building Trust
  • Active Listening
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Influencing Skills
  • Cultural Views and Storytelling
  • Building Resilience
  • Goal Setting


Proyecto Mariposas focuses on building the relationship between mothers and daughters. By educating and building the self–esteem of girls and women, we are also building the family and the community. Please contact Yahaira Rose 614-416-1920 for additional information



Stayed tuned for more programs and resources sponsored by the Dare to Live in Peace project!