Welcome to the fourth issue of the YouthPower Learning newsletter!
In this issue you will find two recent requests for applications (RFAs) launched under the YouthPower Learning contract funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The issue also features an interview with Leesa Kaplan, Chief of Party, El Salvador Proyecto de USAID Puentes Para El Empleo. The update from the African Evaluation Association Youth and Emerging Evaluators Strand, sponsored by YouthPower Learning, shows how strand bursary recipients from Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda benefited from training, coaching and learning about Positive Youth Development (PYD) approaches and indicators. Don’t miss the upcoming events, including webinars, organized by our YouthPower Learning Communities of Practice (CoP), and watch recordings of past webinars that you may have missed.
Success stories and other important updates from our YouthPower family in Latin America and the Caribbean, Indonesia, St. Lucia, Guyana, and St. Kitts and Nevis, round out this month's newsletter.
Please share the resources and other updates from YouthPower with your networks, including new publications, forthcoming webinars, new information from the field, and blog resources.
•YP Learning •YPL Grants •Field •CoP •Events •Resources •Blogs
Answers to questions and tips to apply are posted on www.YouthPower.org. Any information that substantially changes the requirements of the RFAs shall be released through the issuance of an amendment. Deadline to apply is April 13, 2017, 21:00 GMT.
Staff from USAID and YouthPower Learning visited Komo Learning Centres (KLC) in Mukono, Uganda. KLC is a current recipient of a YouthPower Learning grant. The grant to KLC is for the production of videos on youth engagement that highlight a “year in the life” of the youth-led club at the centers. During the visit, the team met with the youth leaders, gained insights into their approach, and conducted a training on PYD. Cassandra Jessee, the YouthPower Learning Project Director, will return next week to participate in an outreach to the community by sharing the first three videos and lessons learned from the grant implementation process. Ms. Jessee will also work with KLC's monitoring and evaluation (M&E) team to help them incorporate guidance from the YouthPower Learning PYD Measurement Toolkit into their M&E activities.
YouthPower Learning, through sponsorship of the African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Youth and Emerging Evaluators Strand, supported ten young and emerging evaluators from Africa to participate in and present at the 2017 AfrEA conference in Kampala, Uganda, March 27-31. The strand bursary recipients from Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda received financial support to attend the conference, as well as mentorship from YouthPower Learning on their conference presentations and participation. In addition, staff from YouthPower Learning conducted a PYD Measurement Training Workshop at AfrEA to share how evaluators can use and adapt PYD indicators and measurement for their evaluations. Visit the PYD Measurement Toolkit section on YouthPower.org to explore each component of the toolkit individually or download the full toolkit. Upcoming Events:
Interview by Maria Brindlmayer, Senior KM Specialist, YouthPower Learning, with Leesa Kaplan, Chief of Party, El Salvador Proyecto de USAID Puentes Para El Empleo Maria Brindlmayer: Leesa, it’s really great to talk with you about the project “Puentes Para El Empleo”. I know that over the last year and a half, there has been a lot of progress made on your project, for example with new research completed. But before we get into too many details, can you tell our readers about your project and what it aims to achieve?
Leesa Kaplan: Sure, the project goals — in simplified terms — are to provide opportunities for youth, particularly at-risk youth, through training and job preparation that helps them gain dignified employment in the communities where they live. In some cases, we know that youth may choose to go back to school and continue their academic training, whether it's advancing through high school or going on to tertiary education. And in other cases, and that’s what the project is focused on, youth may choose training in technical fields. The project is focused on four economic areas: agroindustry, manufacturing, IT and tourism. Those four economic sectors have been chosen as a result of the Labor Market Assessment that we conducted.
After completion of the training, youth can either look for jobs or they can choose to become entrepreneurs.
MB: You mentioned the Labor Market Assessment. What was the purpose of the assessment, and did you do any other studies to inform your work?
LK: We conducted four studies during the first year of the project, and the purpose of all them was, not so much to contribute to the academic body of research, but primarily to guide the project and help us design and implement the activities for the project.
The Labor Market Assessment helped us to determine not only the four economic sectors but also looked at the geographic focus of the project. In the beginning of the year, the research helped us to select eight priority municipalities for project implementation. The selected municipalities are those where the principal companies and employers are based in the country. There is a corridor in the country where we anticipate that most of our youth will be employed.
MB: And what other studies did you do?
LK: We conducted a Participatory Youth Assessment. In that study, we aimed to find out the barriers that youth face to gaining employment and to receiving training, including the societal barriers and the stigma that is placed on youth.
We also conducted a survey, or an assessment, of training centers, to understand their needs. The project aims to strengthen training centers and help them become 21st century educators for youth. We want to help them with curricula, help them improve their training of trainers, help them improve their methodologies, their infrastructure, their systems of administration, their equipment, so that they can improving the quality of the training they offer, ensuring that it is applicable to current employment needs.
The fourth assessment that we did was a policy assessment. We looked at national policies related to academic, professional and employment policies on at-risk youth, as well as employers’ policies and practices in implementation of the national policies.
We found that there is existing legislation surrounding employment of youth, however, not all of it is implemented, not all of it is followed, and it’s complicated to access the incentives that employers might have available to them for offering opportunities to youth.
Many people don’t even know that these laws exist. So, part of the job is to conduct a media campaign in which we let people know that these laws do exist to help employers and to help youth. The challenges are to teach, educate and share with the society the value of youth and convince people that while there are many challenges with violence in the country, in many cases the youth are victims — not perpetrators — of the violence. Simply because they live in violent communities, youth are all considered “the violent ones” and not necessarily considered victims of the violence surrounding them. We are working to change that view.
MB: From all the PYD features, which is your implementation focused on the most? And perhaps we can also talk about changing the enabling environment for them?
LK: You asked about the enabling environment: we know that we need to work with the population at large. We need to change attitudes, we need to change behaviors, and we need to change perceptions of youth. We are beginning by hiring a public relations firm to help us do a media campaign on this.
Right now we are establishing a baseline so that we will be able to measure mid-term and long-term changes of attitudes and behaviors that can be achieved through media action. We need to not only change the population's attitudes but also help the youth to respect themselves and to have a better self-concept.
On March 27, the Latin America and the Caribbean Youth Violence Prevention Project (LAC-YVP) held a two-day workshop on Focus, Prevention, and Legitimacy in the Context of International Violence in Tarrytown, New York. The workshop was led by the National Network for Safe Communities/ John Jay College and brought together 45 experts to discuss what works and what doesn’t work in crime prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean.
LAC-YVP has awarded its first grant to Instituto Igarape, a Brazilian non-profit, to organize an Urban Security Exchange in El Salvador. The exchange will create a data-driven and evidence-based debate on public security and violence prevention in El Salvador and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. One hundred security specialists from government, business, and the non-governmental sector will be invited to attend. Instituto Igarape is a ‘think and do tank’ devoted to evidence-based policy and action on complex security, justice, and development challenges in Brazil, Latin America, and Africa.
LAC-YVP is working with Dr. Michael Clements on Migration and Violence Research to measure the effect of Central American violence on unaccompanied child migrant arrivals in the United States. The quantitative study seeks to understand the effects of various types of violent and non-violent crime on international migration decisions in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The study seeks to use the spike in violence in the Northern Triangle in recent years as a natural experiment to quantify the effect of generalized violence on a type of migration of interest to policymakers. Dr. Clements has published numerous peer-reviewed articles on migration and his research has been awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize.
LAC-YVP is conducting an evidence-based mapping on violence and crime prevention in Latin America and Caribbean. The map will help prioritize the most promising interventions to be further studied by the project in the region. It will set the guidelines for LAC-YVP’s future interventions.
The USAID Community, Family, and Youth Resilience (CFYR) initiative finalized the selection process for the 15 communities targeted for intervention across the three host countries of St. Lucia, Guyana and St. Kitts and Nevis. USAID and CFYR have scheduled consultations with host government counterparts which will serve as the inaugural meetings of the National Advisory Boards to guide the strategic deployment of the CFYR at the national level. Each National Advisory Board will be comprised of senior representatives of relevant state agencies, private sector bodies, and civil society organizations, all working together to achieve the mandate of crafting integrated, multidimensional solutions to addressing youth crime and violence in these countries.
In February, the CFYR team completed field work compiling information on existing training programs/projects to guide workforce development efforts in keeping with regional labor market trends, the training needs of local youth, and the institutional capacities of local agencies. Recommendations from these assessments will be used by the Crime and Violence Prevention Committees with whom CFYR will work in each of the 15 target communities beginning in April.
CFYR will roll out the first of three Community Baseline Survey exercises in St. Lucia at the end of March. The survey will query residents’ perceptions of crime with an emphasis on capturing the youth experiences. The Community Baseline Survey in St. Lucia will be undertaken through a grant to the Central Statistical Office and will benefit the office by building the agency’s capacity to deploy web-based survey technologies as well as developing the agency’s research expertise in a new area of practice concerning crime and violence. The Government of St. Lucia will also benefit at the policy development level via new data on public perceptions and experiences with crime and violence, which should lead to improved policymaking on public safety for at-risk youths and vulnerable communities.
The USAID Mitra Kunci Initiative (formerly IWDP) is a five-year, $22.8 million program that promotes inclusive economic growth in Indonesia by improving access to skills, training, information, experience, and relevant services for poor and vulnerable youth, women, and persons with disabilities. The Initiative supports both U.S. and Indonesian Project Implementers (PIs) with technical, operational, and financial support to test innovative programming, assess impact, and scale successful approaches.
The Mitra Kunci approach is embedded in a learning progression originally started by USAID Indonesia’s co-create, co-design, and co-invest process. Through the Development Innovation Accelerator process, USAID Indonesia chose PIs with whom it could bring together local government, training institutions, the media, and the private sector to identify and create opportunities for poor and vulnerable youth. Mitra Kunci will work with these PIs to continue the learning process through implementation of pilot projects that test concepts and new approaches, and which support networks of experts who are at the forefront of developing innovative programming.
The co-design process began in June 2015 with a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI), which fed into a co-design workshop in Jakarta. At the workshop, participants identified and discussed solutions for the most important workforce development problems facing poor and vulnerable youth specifically, and comparable issues in the Indonesian economy more broadly. After the workshop, participants worked in teams to further develop and submit to USAID concept notes for innovative program approaches. USAID, through a rigorous review process, selected seven PI concept notes for funding to prove their concepts.
Of these seven concepts, four are led by Indonesian organizations and three by U.S. organizations. USAID will manage U.S.-led PIs under cooperative agreements, while Mitra Kunci will fund, manage, and administer grants under contract (GUC) to Indonesian-led PIs. Mitra Kunci’s focus in the first three months will be to ensure a smooth transition of the four Indonesian-led PIs from the co-design process into the grant proposal to award process, including discussions with and mentoring of PIs on technical, operational, and contractual details necessary for their concepts to be grant-ready in a timely and compliant manner.
Together, Mitra Kunci and the seven PIs will contribute to USAID’s overarching goal of equipping 200,000 poor and vulnerable beneficiaries to be more work-ready by achieving the following key results:
Improved access to quality workforce development programs for poor and vulnerable youth;
Increased private sector training opportunities for poor and vulnerable youth; and
Improved capacity for decision-making at the regional level (provinces and local districts) in support of workforce development for poor and vulnerable youth.
The CoP managed an extensive consultation process on draft grant design and launched an RFA on February 27. More information about the YouthPower Learning Grant for Advancing the Evidence Base for Youth Civic Engagement in Effective Peacebuilding or Mitigating Violent Extremism can be found here. Responses to questions and tips for applying are also posted on YouthPower.org.
The CoP is in the process of recruiting a new Co-Champion for the Community of Practice and expects to have an announcement soon.
On February 22, the CoP had its first in-person meeting of the year (the recording and presentation are available here). The meeting featured a presentation on the research conducted by EDC through a grant from USAID YouthPower Learning. This research focuses on understanding mismatches in youth’s and key stakeholders’ perceptions of which soft skills are important for education and employment outcomes. Following EDC's presentation of initial research findings, CoP members had the opportunity to provide input through a collaborative workshop focused on supporting EDC as they begin the next phase of their research. The workshop generated lively discussion on the study’s findings and will inform the research team’s work in three ways: adding further analyses to the final report, giving meaning to specific data points, and influencing the direction of future research.
CIES Panel on Skills for Youth in Challenging Environments
Members of the CoP participated in a panel presentation at the CIES Annual Conference. The panel highlighted research on promising programs working to develop soft skills among youth in challenging environments across various country contexts. Based on the research findings, presenters offered recommendations for integrating soft skills into programming in challenging contexts, and identified areas for further research.
Youth Employability Webinar
On March 22, the CoP hosted a webinar titled, “Financing Skills Programs for Youth Employability: Highlighting Unique Revenue Mechanisms.” Featuring presentations from Ali Jaffer from the Generation Program, Rob Urquhart from Harrambee Youth Employment Accelerator, and 'Gbénga Sèsan from the Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, the webinar explored the complexities of financing skills training programs for youth and highlighted unique finance approaches that ensure sustainability without losing track of the financial limitations of youth beneficiaries. The recording and presentations are available here.
On February 23, the CoP hosted a webinar titled, "The Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program - What Works, What Doesn't, and What's Next for Adolescent Girls in Zambia?". The webinar discussed the outcomes of the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program, a DFID-funded six-year randomized controlled trial (RCT) designed to test different packages of social, health, and economic asset-building interventions for vulnerable adolescent girls in urban and rural Zambia. Speakers highlighted results and reflections about the key elements to consider for programming focused on adolescent girls. You can access the webinar recording and presentations here.
Gender and Skills Development Webinar
On March 7, the CoP co-hosted a webinar in collaboration with the Cross-Sectoral Skills CoP titled, "Skills Development and Economic Opportunity for Young Women". The webinar discussed experiences working with skills-development programs that deliberately target young women. Areas of focus included examining how skills programs use a gender-sensitive approach in their curriculum and programming, as well as exploring challenges and best practices in targeting young women for skills programs, particularly in low and middle-income countries. You can access the webinar recording and presentations here.
Grants Under Contract
The YouthPower Learning Gender and PYD CoP is currently seeking to award one or more grants 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. You can access information on the request for applications, as well as responses to questions and tips for applying, here.
Gender and Positive Youth Development Meeting
On Thursday, April 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, the CoP will host an in-person meeting entitled, “Giving Adolescents a Voice: Age-Appropriate Methods that Work for Measuring Gender Norms Across Contexts”. Join us in exploring the use of developmentally appropriate, participatory methods and tools to engage adolescents in effective research and intervention design for transforming gender norms. A panel of global adolescent experts will share their experiences supporting adolescents in India, Nepal, Rwanda, and Uganda in constructing their identities through voice and agency. For more information and to register to participate in person or virtually, click here. Space is limited.
Our next in-person meeting will be held at Banyan Global on May 23 from 9:30-11:00 a.m. ET. Click here for more information.
Current Grants under Contract
EDC is currently carrying out research conducted through a grant from USAID YouthPower Learning. This research focuses on understanding mismatches in youth’s and key stakeholders’ perceptions of which soft skills are important for education and employment outcomes. In late January 2017, EDC provided the quantitative data of the research which was the basis for a meeting of the Cross-sectoral Skills CoP (see above). Next steps include focus groups, further interpretation of the results, and more qualitative analysis. You can access the the recording from the meeting and the presentation here.
This blog post from Dr. Christy Olenik, Vice President of Technical Services at Making Cents International, discusses how the PYD approach is becoming more popular in development initiatives in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Like an infant who sees rapid physical changes in the short amount of time to toddlerhood, adolescents experience the same kind of rapid change in their social and emotional development on their way to adulthood. Traditional thinking on adolescence characterizes this as a time when youth display negative risk-taking behaviors. A PYD approach, long used in the United States and other industrialized countries, takes a different view. It treats adolescence as an opportunity to harness the great energy and emotional growth that takes place during this developmental stage. PYD supports young people in building a foundation of skills needed to develop a positive self-concept, healthy relationships, and the motivation to engage in a meaningful way in their communities.
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