Our Mission

To build an international movement of creative conflict resolution built on affirmation, respect for all, community, cooperation and trust.

AVP-USA is an association of community, school and prison-based groups offering experiential workshops in personal growth, community development and creative conflict management.

Founded in prison and developed from the real life experiences of prisoners, AVP encourages every person’s innate power to positively transform first themselves and then the world we live in.

Alternatives to Violence Project brings together diverse groups of people to build Dr. King’s nonviolent “beloved community”. Together, we will build a more peaceful and equitable world.

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Our Story

Our Story In the 1970’s, a group of inmates (the “Think Tank”) at Greenhaven Prison in New York had witnessed the Attica riots and were also concerned with the “revolving door” they clearly saw in their institution. Youth were appearing in prison for fairly minor offenses, only to return (sometimes multiple times) for increasingly more serious and violent crimes.

That era saw conflict on our streets around the Vietnam War. The Society of Friends (Quakers), were active in the prison and were known to have conducted non-violence training and intervention around the war demonstrations. Together, the inmates and the Quakers developed non-violence workshops, with the involvement of people like inmate Eddie Ellis (who later became nationally recognized for his work on prison reform) and Bernard Lafayette (SNCC and CORE Freedom March activist). The first workshop was held at Greenhaven in 1975.

The early workshops worked and were improved upon, drawing from diverse material and philosophy of other programs working in the non-violence field. The effectiveness of the workshops had obvious benefit to prison staff and word spread in their circles, culminating in a widespread demand and eventual spread throughout the New York prison system. Early Quakers developing and spreading the program were Larry Apsey, Lee Stern, Steve Angell, Marge Zybas, and many more.

Inherent in the AVP model is the presence of outside community facilitators in workshops, and an increasingly expanding number of facilitators became needed to staff all the prison workshops. All AVP facilitators go through the AVP workshop series, so more and more people were exposed to AVP. It became obvious that violence is occurring in our lives just as much outside prison walls as inside. Community and Youth programs arose from that recognition, and AVP spread across the USA, and eventually worldwide. Today, AVP workshops are present in 35 States and over 40 countries.

AVP in the USA

AVP is active in 33 states. Venues have been diverse: Prisons and jails, churches and businesses, homeless and family shelters, youth clubs and alternative schools.

AVP in the World

AVP is active in 45 countries, including such regions of conflict as Sudan, Palestine, Burundi and Rwanda. Workshops have been held with Israelis and Palestinians, and Hutu and Tutsi in the same workshops, learning to respect and reconcile with each other.

2018 Impact

2,520 Trainers

1,243 Workshops

17,216 People Impacted

What We Do

Learn more about what we do.