"Each time [one] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, [s]he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. "

Robert F. Kennedy, 1966


The Project

This global partnership is based on the theory that when we invest in grassroots leaders from diverse backgrounds who are on the frontlines protecting their communities, land, water, food, and livelihoods, a ripple of transformation can occur.

The Ripple Academy is a holistic training program for grassroots women to work together across regions and sectors, sharing strategies, accessing tools and resources, and launching replicable solutions to our world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges. Our capacity development activities bring together women from a multitude of faiths, castes, creeds, and backgrounds together to forge improved environmental conditions, mutual understanding, and opportunities for peace.

WEA’s founding partner in the Ripple Academy is United Religions Initiative (URI), the world’s largest interfaith grassroots network working in 104 countries to cultivate peace by bridging religious and cultural differences. URI brings a network of 600+ “Cooperation Circles” who are engaged in social change and expert conflict resolution/peacebuilding strategies.

Women participants from throughout our joint networks came together through dialogue and training to prepare for aligned and strategic actions that solve pressing environmental and social problems. Through the technical support and guidance of trainers, combined with time-tested curriculum of interfaith dialogue and social change, participants exchanged best practices, accessed skills and tools to develop actionable projects in their communities, and received ongoing benefit from a network of peers. We draw from the power of URI and WEA’s global networks and training methodologies in areas of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, conflict transformation and peace-building, and grassroots project development for social change

The inagural Ripple Academy class launched in August 2018, with 30 diverse women leaders from India and Nepal for a 2-month learning journey together. The cohort included environmental advocates, NGO leaders, community organizers, educators, interfaith practitioners, and social entrepreneurs—representing a multitude of faiths and backgrounds. The 2-month program blended online learning with a hands-on gathering at Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India in order to generate quantifiable impact in leaders’ projects and build bridges of cooperation.


Ripple Academy leaders:

  • Connected and strengthened their networks – leaders are collaborating on projects, sharing resources and funding opportunities, and strengthening each other’s work in partnerships born through the Ripple Academy
  • Implemented new and strengthened tools – leaders are using impact design and measurement frameworks, communication plans and assets, and conflict resolution and peacebuilding strategies to achieve greater outcomes in their vital work.
  • Created and documented measurable change – using impact measurement tools, leaders are measuring change and documenting their social and environmental impact to now serve as replicable models across other regions

WEA and URI have nurtured networks of committed grassroots leaders in a combined 100 countries over 28 years. Our organizations come together at a critical time — when efforts to build bridges across nations, learn from each other, and activate people power are needed more than ever. Our partnership enables both organizations to reach deeper and wider, catalyzing a global ripple effect that begins in our communities.


The Ripple Academy is…

  • Designed collaboratively by a global team dedicated to healing societal challenges, centering the leadership of women, and catalyzing environmental protection.
  • Focused on action and solutions designed by trusted grassroots leaders who have track records of success and are poised to create broader impacts.
  • A participatory curriculum of practical skills for creating far-reaching solutions that integrate environmental protection, peacebuilding, and entrepreneurship.
  • A blended learning platform to strengthen alliances among leaders across borders and share replicable solutions.




Tree Sisters
Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture
Project Drawdown
Vital Voices
World Pulse
URI (United Religions Initiative)
Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG)
Purva Bharati Educational Trust (PBET)