What is AMBIT?

As part of our belief in the importance of grassroots change, WIP continues to invest in established community leaders across Northern Ireland, and Ireland, by managing the AMBIT program on behalf of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI).

AMBIT is the flagship capacity-building program of the IFI, bringing together leaders from Northern Ireland and Irish border regions for a two-week study visit to community organizations in the United States. During their visit, they study strategies for improving outcomes in communities dealing with division.

More than 200 participants, over two decades, have now benefitted from this once-in-a-lifetime experience.


How does it work?

The initiative selects a team of leaders from Northern Ireland and border regions each year. The cohort ranges in experience from practitioners and community leaders to those involved in policy and policing. Upon completion, the participants join the AMBIT Alumni Network, an ever-growing body of community leaders empowered by their AMBIT experience. 

Each year AMBIT explores a series of themes. Participants have the chance to experience firsthand how these challenges affect communities in some of the most deprived inner-city areas in the US. Previous themes include social and economic entrepreneurship, public policy, community development, racial tensions, supporting young people at risk, mental health, and establishing alternatives to mainstream education provision.

Where and when does it take place?

The trip involves visits to Washington DC and another US city in March of each year. In 2024 and 2025, the AMBIT cohort will visit Boston. In 2022 and 2023, the previous destination was El Paso, Texas.

AMBIT participants are nominated by their peers and the nominations process opens in Autumn. Further information about the program can be found here.

AMBIT – Ambition for peace

As a peacebuilder, AMBIT allowed me to see how others address inequality, environmental injustice, poverty, segregation, and racism. This inspired me for my own peace-building and community development work back home.

Community development is a hard job. It can sometimes seem like you are fighting a losing battle, particularly in peacebuilding, where goals are few and far between due to the nature of the issue. This was especially so during the Covid period. AMBIT connects you with others who are doing such work and allows you to share problems, resources, and opportunities. It is a significant learning process and personal development opportunity for community workers. Ultimately, it makes us more informed and confident to serve the communities we work in.

Kyra Reynolds, Peace Barriers Project BBI in Londonderry/ Derry, AMBIT alum

The AMBIT program proved a very valuable experience. As a community worker for many years, I believe it is important to spend a period away from one’s environment and in the company of new colleagues and peers. Not only does this provide for a period of reflection but it is crucial in forming relationships, sharing ideas, and building contacts that remain long after the two-week program ends.

This networking has paid dividends in my work in the years since. A key lesson I took away from the trip was the belief within the NGO sector there, as with wider US society, that it is ok to take risks, try new models, learn from any mistakes, and go again. A lesson which we could all benefit from in Northern Ireland.

Brian Dougherty, North West Cultural Partnership, Londonderry/Derry, AMBIT alum