Welcome to the third issue of the YouthPower Learning newsletter!
In this issue you will find the new Positive Youth Development (PYD) Measurement Toolkit developed by YouthPower Learning, updates on our Communities of Practice (CoP), and information on upcoming webinars from the Gender and Youth Engagement CoPs. The issue also features an in-depth interview with Rose Mary Garcia, Director of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training for At-risk Youth program in Nicaragua. Success stories and other important updates from our YouthPower family round out this month's newsletter.
The PYD Measurement Toolkit provides a framework for measuring PYD, resources and references for implementers and evaluators, a set of illustrative PYD indicators and possible measurement tools that can be applied to and across various sectors, and considerations for adapting measures cross-culturally.
The overall goal of this toolkit is to help programs effectively measure PYD outcomes to improve program performance over time, contribute to the body of evidence on PYD, and ultimately influence multi-sector outcomes and impact of youth programming.
A News section has been added, which will make it easier to learn about upcoming YouthPower events.
We have created space on the Home page to highlight three upcoming events and three recently published documents.
Updates from YouthPower Action
YouthPower Action launched an activity to expand a youth development program for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) youth (ages 15-17) in two cities in Mozambique. The program uses a project-based learning approach and an integrated curriculum that enhances soft and work readiness skills; improves literacy and numeracy; builds IT skills; and addresses health, gender, stigma, and discrimination. The program includes classroom learning, e-mentoring, an internship, and a youth club and community service activities for graduates.
MB: Thank you for talking with us about the Technical Vocational Education and Training Strengthening for At-Risk Youth (TVET-SAY) project, known in Spanish as Aprendo y Emprendo. You are working in a challenging environment. We would like you to share some of the challenges that you have encountered and your initial successes so that other projects can learn from your experiences. Can you start by giving us a brief project background?
RG: TVET-SAY is a four-year project that is expanding technical, vocational education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to youth at risk. The youth that we work with are mostly from the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, which is an area that is multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-cultural. Our target population is youth at risk, ages 14 to 29. The Autonomous Caribbean Coast Region (north and south), are far-removed regions, highly vulnerable to drug trafficking, with higher crime statistics in comparison with other parts of the country, a weak human capital base, and poor education indicators. The national average years of schooling is 5.8, but the average number of years of schooling in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAAS) and North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAAN) are even lower at 2.9 and 2.3 years, respectively.
MB: What are the project goals – what does your program aim to achieve?
RG: TVET-SAY contributes to the development objective to improve the safety and competitiveness of at-risk children and youth in the Caribbean Coast. Youth participating in our project are enabled with the life and technical skills that the labor market demands. By increasing access to technical and vocational education and improving curriculum relevance, we aim to strengthen a TVET system that contributes to reducing levels of crime and violence, in which technical and vocational institutions are better prepared to serve youth at risk from the Caribbean Coast and with a better market aligned educational offer.
The project has four components: The first component is to develop networks of TVET institutions that can dialogue with the private sector. The national network that we have started basically serves to expand the dialogue between educational institutions and the private sector. The second component is the institutional strengthening of eight selected TVET centers. We’re improving entrepreneurship training, and we’re also looking at the quality of the soft-skills programs that are being provided by those centers. The third component is improving the public perception (including parents) of technical education in the Caribbean. We want to send a message that there is a demand for technicians in the country and technical education is a viable option. The fourth component is the scholarship component. Throughout the life of the project, we hope to issue 1,000 scholarships.
MB: What are your biggest challenges with regard to the centers?
RG: TVET SAY’s biggest challenge is the lack of private technical vocational education centers in the Caribbean. There are two government-run technical vocational centers, but there are no private technical vocational centers in the Caribbean, even though geographically it’s approximately 50% of the country and has approximately 15% of the population. Thus, we’re working directly with two universities on the Caribbean coast. Out of our eight centers, six of our centers are in the Pacific coast. So our biggest challenge is the geography, as well as the cultural and language divide between the Pacific and Caribbean regions. To overcome this, we have asked centers operating in the Pacific to provide mobile courses and to host smaller programs in Managua. But transportation from one coast to the other is a problem.
MB: Do you have any success stories so far?
RG: Yes, we have several success stories which we have gathered and can share. TVET SAY’s cornerstone strategy is that we are incorporating the private sector in technical vocational education. We are achieving this by developing alliances with private sector companies. The private sector is giving us inputs in course requirements, guiding us in identifying the skills gaps, and in one case even providing courses to technical vocational education centers. For example, there’s a high-end furniture exporter, Simplemente Madera, which means “Only Wood”, that will be providing capacity training for two TVET centers, those that provide carpentry. They’re increasing productivity in industry through capacity training on techniques to TVETs. Through alliances between the private companies and the TVET centers, we’re improving their offerings and the training.
The Proponte Más Secondary Violence Prevention Activity in Honduras identifies and works with families and their youth ages 8 to 17 who are empirically at the highest risk of joining gangs. Using the Youth Service Eligibility Tool (YSET), youth are evaluated based on a series of nine risk factors at a family, peer, and individual level domain.
To date, the Proponte Más project has applied the YSET diagnostic tool to youth from a total of 2,189 families. The program’s family counselors continue to work in close partnership with the families of high-risk youth to establish positive relations and behaviors to lower the youth’s risk factors, and have engaged with over 500 families throughout three regional offices and five target municipalities. The program continues to build on its partners network, expanding the program's influence and access at the community, regional, and national level. These relationships have been key in enhancing referrals of youth to the program, promoting the use of the Proponte Más tools and methodology among national actors, and identifying synergies with other USAID-funded programs. In addition, Proponte Más initiated a high level juvenile justice committee tasked with designing the framework for Instituto Nacional para la Atención de Menores Infractores (INAMI), a newly created government institution responsible for dealing with juvenile offenders. The program will help design norms and procedures for the institution, as well as a comprehensive case management system.
Researchers from Social Impact, Inc. will commence baseline data collection in early March for a longitudinal study of Palestinian youth, 18-25 years old, who live in the West Bank and have participated in a Youth Development Resource Center (YDRC) activity. YDRCs are part of a positive youth development effort funded by USAID and implemented by IREX. The sampling frame includes one thousand youth equally distributed between five YDRCs throughout the West Bank. Research questions focus on seven areas: employment, earnings and savings, employability, risk behaviors, community engagement, self-efficacy, and perception of the YDRCs. Social Impact will conduct two follow-up data collection activities in November of 2017 and September 2018.
During a scoping mission and evaluation design workshop in Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, Qalquilya, and Hebron in early December, the lead researchers developed the study design and data collection instruments in consultation with the youth and staff of the YDRCs, as well as with IREX and USAID.
At the request of USAID/Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC), Creative Associates International coordinated the official launch of the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project. The Youth Empowerment Services Project (YES) seeks to increase protective factors that build resiliency and capacity of regional bodies, national governments, and community stakeholders to identify and analyze risk factors experienced by crime-affected communities, at-risk youth and youth in conflict with the law and protective factors that build resiliency.
The project launches in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Guyana served to sensitize host country counterparts, highlight the vibrant talent of regional youth groups and individuals, and facilitate dialogue on streamlining the start-up of implementation activities by Creative and the other YES implementing partners. For Creative, in particular, the launches afforded two additional benefits. First, the launches provided the opportunity to espouse the value of the place-based, public health model that is the foundation of the USAID Community Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) approach. Second, the launches also facilitated Creative re-engaging with local non-government organizations (NGOs) working at the community level, including those working in positive youth development, to explore partnerships and gather intelligence to support program implementation.
The events were attended by ministers of the three countries, as well as USAID and USG representatives, including United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Linda Taglialatela, and United States Ambassador to Guyana Perry Holloway, among others.
K-YES held a successful official launch event on December 14, 2016. A Short documentary on the program is available on their facebook page. Voice of America featured the program here. Kenya's leading newspaper with an audience reach of over four million people covered the story here.
This webinar provided interesting and successful examples of how ICTs in the hands of youth can contribute to peacebuilding and violence prevention. The two speakers, Theo Dolan, the Director of PeaceMedia and PeaceTech Lab Africa, and Derek Caelin, Senior Specialist at the PeaceTech Lab and an independent games developer, presented examples of Peace Media Programs and PeaceTech Exchanges. Peace Media focuses on behavior change communications for youth-oriented, locally produced peacebuilding efforts that use curriculum-driven “edutainment” and multimedia, and address specific research based drivers of conflict. PeaceTech Exchanges are workshops organized by PeaceTech Lab, a nonprofit organization founded by the U.S. Institute of Peace, to empower peacebuilders in conflict zones with low-cost, easy-to-use technology. You can access the recording here.
The Community of Practice organized the second YouthTalks session, entitled: “The Role of Young People in Achieving the SDGs". Youth had the opportunity to ask questions and engage in dialogue with UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, Teresa González. During the event, participants were able to live tweet by using the hashtag #YPYouthTalks.You can access the recording in English here and the recording in Spanish here.
3. Two brown bag presentations:
On December 13, Maria Brindlmayer, the Co-Chair of the Youth in Peace and Security CoP, participated in two brown bag events on the topics of youth, conflict, and peace organized by USAID and hosted by the Department of Defense and USAID. The brown bags coincided with the anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth Peace and Security and highlighted the important role youth play in peace building. The presentations focused on “What Works for Youth” in peace building, and the positive youth development (PYD) approach. The panelists from USAID and implementing partners specializing in youth and conflict programming discussed interventions that are showing promising results based on research in peace building, conflict mitigation, countering violent extremism (CVE), and youth engagement.
4. YouthPower Learning Grant:
A first draft of a grant concept note was developed and shared with CoP members for feedback and comments. Once the concept note is finalized, we will launch a request for applications.
2. Looking forward, proposed CoP activities for 2017 include:
2017 Webinar Series: the CoP will host two webinars in early 2017, seeking to address lingering evidence gaps and highlight best practices in Youth Employability and Skills Development and Economic Opportunity for Women. The latter will leverage International Women’s Day, and serve as an opportunity to collaborate directly with the YouthPower Gender and PYD CoP.
CIES Panel on Skills for Youth in Challenging Contexts: A panel presentation at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Conference will highlight promising programs working to develop soft skills among youth in challenging contexts. Implementers will present unique perspectives and solutions to soft skills training and development in various country contexts.
“Sense Making” Workshop with EDC: EDC will gather inputs from CoP members on their research to better understand how mismatches in youth’s and key stakeholders’ perceptions of soft skills affect employment and education outcomes. Information will be shared through the CoP on February 22, 2017.
1. The Youth Engagement (YE) CoP meeting on January 25, 2017:
The Youth Engagement CoP meeting was a great success with around 40 people in attendance either in-person or online. The event featured representatives from Komo Learning Centres from Uganda, a YouthPower Learning grantee that is developing a video series on the benefits and challenges of engaging youth in programming. National Democratic Institute (NDI) hosted the event, with Mike Sweigart, NDI's Program Officer for Youth Participation, discussing what motivates youth to engage in political activities.
2. The YE CoP will host a webinar in early March:
The YE CoP webinar will feature a recent research brief completed by University of California Berkeley for UNICEF on involving adolescents in research. The webinar will be co-hosted with the American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Evaluation Topical Interest Group.
3. The YE CoP has kicked off its youth participation working group:
The youth participation working group will develop strategies for ensuring that the youth voice is captured in YouthPower CoPs and other activities. We are looking for members, if interested please contact Christy Olenik at Christy@makingcents.com.
The Gender and PYD CoP held a meeting on January 12, 2017 and discussed these topics for the future:
1. YouthPower Learning Grant:
The Gender and Positive Youth Development CoP will seek to award one or more small grants under contract (GUC) to advance the evidence base for gender-transformative PYD. A successful proposal will contribute to building the evidence base, information sharing, and/or collaboration in the areas of gender equality, health, employment, and education for young people.
2. Working groups:
Working groups were formed to discuss HIV and adolescent girls and to look more deeply into issues around gender and violence. Those who are interested in one or both of those discussions should contact Chelsea Ricker or Chisina Kapungu by email, and we will include you in the updates for those groups.
The Population Council’s Dr. Karen Austrian, who is the principal investigator for the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program in Zambia, will lead a one-hour webinar in which she will share the study design, the mid-term results, and reflections on what this means for adolescent girls programming in Zambia.
YouthPower Learning is delighted to announce that Komo Learning Centres (KLC) in Uganda, one of YouthPower Learning’s YE CoP grantees, has completed the first three videos from their video series about youth engagement.
You can view the first three videos on the YouthPower Learning YouTube page by following the links below:
KLC was founded to help fill the gaps in education, health, and livelihoods development in Mukono District, Uganda. Their activities include: sponsoring approximately 120 students (secondary, university, and vocational); implementing the Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Apprenticeship Program (LEAP), which improves livelihoods options for approximately 700 young people per year; running a community clinic and health outreaches; facilitating a youth-led club (YLC) in partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps; and conducting various workshops at their youth center (e.g., soap-making).
The YLC’s first meeting was held in February 2016, which has allowed them to document almost the entire first year of the club in this video series – from recruitment and leadership elections, to designing and implementing YLC activities. Their proposed videos include: 1) YLC concept, impacts, and expectations; 2) Recruitment and club structure; 3) Community needs assessment, activity prioritization, and decision-making; 4) Capacity building through trainings and workshops; 5) Activity planning and design; 6) Activity implementation and evaluation; 7) Gender and age issues; 8) YLC challenges, solutions, and benefits; and 9) The process of making the video series.
This blog post from Daniel Plaut and Radhika Mitter from Results for Development Institute, a YouthPower Learning partner, examines insights from YouthPower Action's research on soft-skills development, measurement, and outcomes across sectors.
While the importance of soft skills had been previously acknowledged by both researchers and practitioners, many questions remained unanswered. For example: Which soft skills have the most impact in improving outcomes for youth across sectors? Which measurement tools are most effective at assessing these skills? Are there guiding principles for developing these skill sets among youth? Read the full blog post here.
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