We are delighted to dedicate this issue of the YouthPower Learning newsletter to International Youth Day (IYD). More than half of the world's population today are youth under 35. Many of them will be taking on leadership roles in their communities and many are already contributing to their communities and societies as innovators, entrepreneurs, managers of development programs, political voices, and role models for their peers.
In this issue, we celebrate some of these inspiring young people. In line with this year’s IYD theme, “Youth in Peacebuilding,” our stories highlight the roles youth play in peacebuilding and their important contributions to countering or preventing violent extremism (CVE/PVE) or preventing gang violence. And we also share success stories of young people connected to YouthPower: Implementation programs around the globe.
However, celebrating them is not enough. We need to continue to strive for true youth engagement and inclusion at a broader scale, create assets, and build the enabling environment for youth that will allow them to thrive, even in conflict and other challenging contexts. Several tools and trainings in this newsletter can help youth-supporting organizations in these efforts, including the new brief, Promising Practices in Engaging Youth in Peace and Security and PVE/CVE, recently launched by the CoP on Youth in Peace and Security.
This month, we also are launching a companion publication to this newsletter, the YouthPower Learning Research Digest, which is a collection of abstracts of recent research and publications on youth and PYD.
Updates about new YouthPower Learning and YouthPower Action publications, training materials and tools, and new events from the CoPs complete this issue.
Please continue to share your YouthPower project resources and updates with us.
The brief was launched during a recent webinar, Positive Youth Development for Workforce Readiness and Employability: What Do We Know?, moderated by Nancy Taggart, Senior Youth and Workforce Advisor at USAID. The webinar featured researcher and practitioner perspectives on PYD from YouthPower Learning team members Daniel Plaut and Caitlin Moss; Dr. Sajeda Amin, Senior Associate at Population Council, who discussed the impact of the Council's BALIKA project in Bangladesh; and from Ms. Anna Barrett, Senior Program Officer at Partners of the Americas, who presented findings from their multi-country A Ganar program.
YouthPower Learning is also pleased to launch the first edition of its Research Digest, a collection of abstracts of recent research and publications on youth and PYD. In June this year, YouthPower Learning launched the Systematic Review of PYD in LMICs, which presented research articles and publications up to Spring 2016. The new Research Digest is offering brief abstracts for articles related to this topic published from Spring, 2016 to Spring, 2017. The Research Digest is a collection of abstracts, and not a systematic review; the content has not been curated based on the strict criteria applied in the systematic review. YouthPower Learning will continue to publish research related to youth and PYD on its website and share highlights in the bi-monthly newsletter. Periodically, YouthPower Learning will provide a comprehensive research update through its Research Digest. Youth implementers and youth-supporting organizations can use these articles to stay abreast of what is working in youth and PYD.
Updates from YouthPower Action
YouthPower Action has completed the last in a series of three reports on soft skills. Guiding Principles for Building Soft and Life Skills among Adolescents and Young Adults identified a set of six guiding principles for designing and implementing effective skill-building programs. Findings drew from a review of literature and meta-analyses, general guides on how to develop soft skills, and other synthesis literature from U.S. and international programs. The report provides specific examples of effective practices applying each principle, drawing from international and U.S. youth programs across the fields of workforce development, education, violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive health. The report presents a holistic skill development framework that emphasizes experiential learning as a core mechanism for skill building, reinforced by meaningful relationships with adults and peers, positive practices (such as modeling and scaffolding), application of skills in combination, a supportive learning environment, and the integration of learning across contexts (e.g., school, home, and community). The report provides specific examples of effective practice applying each principle, drawing from international and U.S. youth programs across the fields of workforce development, violence prevention, and sexual and reproductive health.
Youth and HIV Testing and Treatment
YouthPower Action also commissioned a special issue in AIDS entitled, “Achieving 902: Young People, HIV Testing Services and Linkage to Treatment,” in order to share with funders, program planners, researchers and policymakers current evidence addressing HIV testing and linkage to care among youth populations. This special supplement was launched at the International AIDS Summit in Paris on July 23, 2017, and YouthPower Action presented at a webinar to disseminate the supplement on August 10 (access the recording and materials here).
Youth Engagement Training in DREAMS countries
Training materials from YouthPower Action’s Youth Engagement training are now available on YouthPower.org. These materials were developed as part of the DREAMS initiative. The project provided training to U.S. government staff and DREAMS implementing partners in five DREAMS countries: South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Updates from the Communities of Practice (CoPs)
and Grants Under Contract
Past In-Person Event and Webinar: On August 8, the Youth in Peace and Security CoP organized a joint event with USAID, USIP, and Search for Common Ground: Expanding the Role of Youth in Building Peace, Security: Youth as a Force Against Violent Conflict and Violent Extremism: Recent Lessons Learned. (The event was also broadcast live). While popular culture and public narratives often depict youth, and mainly young men, as perpetrators of violence, governments and civil society groups alike are working to elevate the critical role of youth in reducing violent conflict and violent extremism. That effort has seen added attention in the last 19 months, since a U.N. Security Council resolution focused governments on the task. This event included a presentation by Jen Heeg, YouthPower Learning’s Youth in Peace and Security CoP co-champion; prominent U.S. government officials and civil society leaders; and the founder of a Nigerian youth-led peacebuilding organization working amid the country’s conflict with the Boko Haram extremist group. The presentations and discussion focused on new ideas and resources for strengthening the role of youth who are reducing violence, improving security, and opposing violent extremism in their countries. The recording is available here.
Brief: At the above-mentioned event, the CoP also launched its new brief: Promising Practices in Engaging Youth in Peace and Security and PVE/CVE. While there is still a great deal to learn about engaging youth in peace, security, and PVE/CVE, and each context requires a unique evaluation, a number of promising practices exist from successful programs across the globe.
Grants under Contract: As mentioned in newsletter issue #5, May 2017, we received a large number of strong applications in response to the request for applications (RFA). We are now in the final phase of the selection process and will be announcing the grantees to our CoP members within the next few weeks.
Technical Brief: The Cross-Sectoral Skills for Youth (CSSY) CoP is working on its second technical brief, which will gather and synthesize lessons learned from implementers’ experiences adapting soft skills measurement tools in different contexts. Many practitioners involved in skills development programs for youth grapple with measuring soft skills across contexts. Specific barriers to adapting skills measurement tools include differences in terminology used, contextual barriers to certain skills measurement questions, and self-reporting bias. A draft of the technical brief will be shared to CoP members for comments in the coming weeks and will be published by the end of September.
Forthcoming Request for Applications (RFA): CoP co-champions managed an online consultation process on draft concepts for a forthcoming RFA with CoP members. The CoP members agreed to focus the RFA on gaining a better understanding, from the implementers’ perspective, of what does or does not work when adding and measuring PYD activities in skills-based programs for youth. A finalized version of these concepts, which incorporates CoP member feedback, is now being developed into an RFA, to be released in the fall.
Technical Briefs: CoP members are currently working on two technical briefs: one on implementing youth engagement indicators and one on making the pitch for youth engagement to colleagues, community members, and other stakeholders. One is anticipated for release in September, 2017, and one for October, 2017.
Upcoming Webinar: The Youth Engagement CoP is planning their third and final webinar of the year, to be conducted on September 13th. The American Evaluation Association Topical Interest Group will lead the webinar, which will focus on engaging youth in evaluation.
This webinar will be about bringing youth voices to the topic of participatory evaluation. Young evaluators, along with their adult allies, will talk about engaging in participatory evaluation activities, such as questionnaire development, data collection, and analysis. Youth evaluators will critically analyze their own experience and provide tips, best practice strategies, and advice to others considering engaging young people in evaluation work.
Upcoming CoP Meeting: The CoP is planning its next meeting for the fall. Please stay tuned for more details.
Past Webinar: On July 25, the Gender & Positive Youth Development CoP hosted a webinar: “Early Evidence from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) Program.” This 90-minute webinar presented key lessons from the GAGE program, a nine-year (2015–2024), UK-government-funded program designed to generate evidence on programs and policies to help adolescent girls in the Global South reach their full potential. Presenters included Dr. Nicola Jones, Director, GAGE, Overseas Development Institute; Prof. Sonia Livingstone OBE, London School of Economics; and Rachel Marcus, ODI Research Associate, Woodstock Research Consulting.
In this issue, we celebrate some of the inspiring young people involved with YouthPower projects. In line with this year’s IYD theme, “Youth in Peacebuilding,” our stories highlight the roles youth play in peacebuilding and their important contributions to countering or preventing violent extremism (CVE/PVE) or preventing gang violence. And we also share success stories of other young people connected to YouthPower: Implementation programs around the globe.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Proponte Más project in Honduras is identifying and working with 800 families and their youth ages 8 to 17 who are at the highest risk, empirically, of joining gangs. Using the Youth Services Eligibility Tool (YSET), youth are evaluated based on a series of nine risk factors at a family, peer and individual level domain. The following stories share a selection of initial successes.
CHOTEPE, Honduras – With his grandparents and cousins gathered around the table, 15-year-old Steven is drawing a family tree with colored markers. Family members chime in, helping him add new branches for relatives as they recount family stories. “We do the family tree, so the branches are aunts and uncles or parents. We are the roots, and the trunk is the whole family,” says Steven, who lives with extended family outside of San Pedro Sula. More
COROZAL, Honduras – Wilson and Irvin Guity’s father, Carlos, has just returned home to the coastal Honduran town of Corozal for a visit from Panama, where he spends long stretches of time working construction. While the boys’ father migrates for work, their mother, Ronna Ballesteros, picks up housekeeping jobs in order to provide for her sons and their two younger sisters. More
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Rebeca, a grandmother in her early 60s, lives in Nueva España—a neighborhood with a sweeping view of the capital. Despite the panoramic view of the metropolis, this section of the city is better known for its poverty, violence and arrest records. Rebeca weeps as she describes the two months that her 17-year old grandson Fernando spent in Jalteva, a detention center south of the city. More
The goal of USAID Bridges to Employment is to increase and improve employment opportunities for Salvadoran youth living in high-crime municipalities. The USAID Bridges to Employment team supports USAID/El Salvador to link youth—including young women and vulnerable populations, such as LGBTI and youth with disabilities—to basic social resources of work, knowledge, security, and social capital in order to foster social inclusion through employment opportunities.
How does a young man from Colon, one of six municipalities of El Salvador with homicide rates above the national average, avoid the gangs and violence of his neighborhood and make it to university? Jonathan says inspiration, supportive parents and teachers, and access to a scholarship made all the difference. More
Although some employment and livelihoods opportunities exist in Nicaragua, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions often do not provide vulnerable youth with appropriate technical and soft skills that align with employment opportunities, nor do they offer access to quality training, job placement services, and jobs.The Technical Vocational Education and Training Strengthening for At-Risk Youth (TVET SAY) program aims to prove a solution by strengthening the private TVET system, while enhancing citizen security.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Inside a bustling workshop in one of the nation’s most prestigious vocational education and training centers, aspiring technical students carefully manipulate metal pliers to repair a colorful array of yellow, green, black and red wiring on an electrical panel board. “Technical careers have a lot of demand, not just in Nicaragua, but around the world,” says Osmin Manuel Mendez, who is studying industrial electricity and motor control at Fundación Victoria. More
BLUEFIELDS, Nicaragua – Sixteen people ages 18 to 28 and from up and down the Caribbean Coast region of Nicaragua have banded together under a shared goal: to help shape positive futures for themselves and their peers through technical education. The group makes up the Youth Advisory Council for Technical Education, which held its inaugural meeting on June 22 in Bluefields. The council will give its members a chance to talk about their own career goals and progress and will serve as a valuable source of information for a project that is connecting youth with opportunities in technical fields. More
BLUEFIELDS, Nicaragua – Growing up deaf in a remote community in the Caribbean Coast region, Cheysi Smith lived in her own world. Like many deaf and hard-of-hearing children here, she was not taught sign language and was deprived of an opportunity for education.
When she was finally given the opportunity to learn and entered first grade at age 12, through an organization supporting deaf and hard of hearing children, she seized it. More
Job creation increasingly is featured in local political discourse as the country gears up for general elections. Youth bear the biggest brunt of unemployment in the country, where one in six is jobless.
To help deal with the problem, USAID Kenya Youth Employment and Skills (K-YES) is empowering them with skills that meet current market demands, making them more employable in the long run. Results are promising: they are using skills gained to secure jobs and empower others. Below are success stories and quotes from beneficiaries. More
“I feel empowered and motivated thanks to K-YES sponsored training.”
“After attending K-YES training, I managed to borrow money from a village savings and loans association and start my own tailoring shop.”
“I was only interested in basic tips on how I could start and manage my business. Little did I know that I could be empowered with information on how to generate capital for expanding the business.”
“I feel empowered and motivated thanks to K-YES sponsored training.”
“Though I aspired to be doctor, being able to ‘diagnose and treat’ sick vehicles is equally fulfilling.”
“The training was short but with long-term benefits. My perception towards dance changed—from mere fun to business.”
Maria Brindlmayer, YouthPower Learning, Senior Knowledge Management Specialist
Cassandra Jessee, YouthPower Learning, Project Director Christina Zola, YouthPower Learning, Communications Manager
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