This fifth issue of the YouthPower newsletter highlights the new Systematic Review of Positive Youth Development (PYD) Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) launched by YouthPower Learning on June 1, which provides great insights on evidence in PYD. Read the latest updates from YouthPower implementation projects, including an interview with Paul Teeple, Chief of Party for the Honduras Workforce Development Activity - Empleando Futuros. Find out what our Communities of Practice (CoPs) are doing, and stay informed on all that the YouthPower family has to offer.
We hope you will take advantage of our upcoming events and leverage the new resources posted on YouthPower.org.
Through presentations, panel discussions, and question-and-answer sessions, participants gained valuable insights on promising and effective strategies that help improve positive outcomes for youth; interacted with subject matter experts about how PYD measurement strengthens youth-focused programming and impacts cross-sectoral outcomes in LMICs; and learned about indicators and tools for measuring PYD outcomes and impacts.
Updates fromYouthPower Action Youth Engagement Training
YouthPower Action provided training on youth engagement 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. Following the training, the project provided mentoring support to help partners implement what they learned. The training materials will be shared in the coming months on Youthpower.org
Nigeria Pilot for Adolescents Living with HIV/AIDS
YouthPower Action is piloting a group intervention on virtual support groups for adolescents living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and conducting a feasibility study on the pilot. The project recently trained facilitators for the pilot and began baseline data collection.
Integrated Sexual and Reproductive Health Youth Programming
YouthPower Action carried out research to explore programs that seek to address workforce development and sexual and reproductive health and to better understand the nature and impact of such integrated programs. The report Assessment of Integrated Workforce Development and Sexual and Reproductive Health Interventions with Recommendations for the Future helps development practitioners understand how projects have integrated activities in these two sectors. The report also explores which features and combinations of features within those integrated programs have demonstrated the most positive impact on youth. YouthPower Action will be issuing a Request for Applications for grants to build additional evidence on the theory of change presented in the report.
Measuring Soft and Life Skills
International youth development programs have increasingly focused on interventions that develop soft and life skills, creating an urgent need among youth development programs for skill measures that can be used for program implementation and evaluation. YouthPower Action has just released its report, Measuring Soft & Life Skills in International Youth Development Programs: A Review and Inventory of Tools, that summarizes findings from a review and inventory of tools that measure cross-cutting skills based on key criteria for use by international youth development programs. The report builds on the findings presented in YouthPower Action’s Key Soft Skills for Cross-Sectoral Youth Outcomes report. Authors provide general findings about the universe of skill measurement tools reviewed, as well as specific observations about tools that scored highest against the review criteria. The report concludes with recommendations for improving the state of soft-skill measurement resources. In addition to the report, YouthPower Action has also posted the inventory of all the instruments reviewed as part of this assessment, which describes the type of instrument, the skills measured, and other relevant information. This is the second in a series of three reports on soft and life skills to be produced under YouthPower Action. The third report will identify a set of guiding principles for building soft and life skills in youth development programming.
The Journal of Adolescent Health has published an article, Mentoring Interventions and the Impact of Protective Assets on the Reproductive Health of Adolescent Girls and Young Women, based on a literature review carried out by YouthPower Action. The purpose of this review was to understand the types of mentoring programs for adolescent girls and young women that have demonstrated effectiveness in improving protective assets, and/or, reproductive health knowledge, intentions, behaviors, or outcomes themselves. Based on the evidence reviewed, YouthPower Action designed a pilot effort to study the effect of a six-month girls mentoring program in Uganda. The mentoring program was launched in April and involved 500 girls. YouthPower Action will carry out a study to determine the feasibility and acceptability of the mentoring intervention effort.
Interview with Paul Teeple [shown as PT below], Chief of Party for the Honduras Workforce Development Activity - Empleando Futuros, conducted by Maria Brindlmayer [shown as MB below], Senior Knowledge Management Specialist for USAID's YouthPower Learning at Making Cents International. MB: Empleando Futuros is a youth workforce development project in Honduras. Can you tell us what the objectives of the project are and when it started?
PT: This is a five-year project that started at the end of June 2016. It is a project that has three results or areas of focus that USAID wants us to work on.
The first one is that we will provide comprehensive workforce development training to at least 7,500 at-risk youth who live in the five municipalities that have the highest crime rates. This means that 7,500 need to complete the comprehensive training. Of those 7,500, 50% or 3,750, need to have a new or improved employment 12 months after the completion of the training. And I’ll come back to some of the specifics of who we work with and what we do.
Our second result is that we work with the Honduran National Professional Training Institute. (They’re called INFOP.) And we help them improve their services by better aligning their services with the demands of the market.
And our third result is to provide comprehensive job training for at least 400 youth who have been in conflict with the law. They can be ex-gang members, have some sort of legal issues, have been in conflict maybe formally or informally with the law. We classify them typically as in the "tertiary prevention" category. And of those 400 youth,160 (or 40%) need to have new or improved employment or livelihood 12 months afterward. And, of course, that livelihood needs to be a legal livelihood.
At a higher level, we are trying to improve economic conditions in the country and, at the same time, by focusing on employment for at-risk youth, we’re trying to improve the safety situation in the country – decrease violence. We focus on the protection factors of our target youth. In short, our theory of change is that if we provide comprehensive workforce development training to those most vulnerable youth, we can both improve economic conditions in the country and have a positive impact on reducing violence in the country or improving safety.
MB: When you say that the youth also has to be employed, does that mean that you will also be working on the job “supply side” in terms of increasing job opportunities in those municipalities?
PT: Our focus is on supplying highly-qualified candidates to the businesses. We expect that most of the youth in the program will most likely go through an employment track. They’ll all get employment training and it is more likely that they will end up with a job than starting their own business. However, at the same time, we will be supporting entrepreneurs – micro-entrepreneurs – as part of this process.
MB: Are you providing this support through training?
PT: Yes, through training. We have set up a comprehensive training system that includes life skills, basic labor competencies, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It includes the more traditional vocational training and has been refined to reflect the current and future needs of the market. It includes what we’re calling a “capstone” program which is a sort of a bridge program where youth learn their rights and responsibilities in the workplace, and they focus on improving their interviewing techniques and presentation techniques. Once they complete those five phases of the training parts of the program, then they can go into an entrepreneurship track, an internship track, or an attachment – this is where you go into very individualized attention that bridges them from training into employment of some sort.
MB: And are you working throughout this process with employers to identify what kind of jobs they are offering or what kind of skills they are looking for? Did you do some labor market needs assessment?
PT: Yes, absolutely. All of our activities need to be market-driven, and all of our activities are based on what our surveys with businesses and experiences of other programs have indicated as needs. Employers are telling us that they are not just looking for technical skills. They say I need someone who has teamwork skills, who communicates well, who can resolve issues, work well with his or her colleagues, which comes through the life skills training. And they also need technical skills, i.e., someone who can perform math and read at certain levels and perform the basic functions of this job.
MB: How are you engaging youth in your own project? Are you using youth in your process either as enumerators, or do you have a youth advisory group, or something like that?
PT: We don’t have a youth advisory council yet, but youth will participate directly. We are about to hire our first interns and we will be having interns for the rest of the project. We also have a very young staff, and some of them have come out of similar situations as the youth who are in the program. We also meet with youth frequently to understand what’s going on. We haven’t set up all the formal mechanisms yet, but when we were setting up our communications materials, we tested those materials with youth. In our recruitment, we are also testing different things with youth - youth input is very important throughout our whole project.
MB: Great. I know it’s relatively early in your project, but have you had any success stories that you want to share?
PT: It is still early, but our gender work is taking off really well and is a great success story. When we did our gender analysis, we made sure that we reached out to a wide range of groups and, as a result, we have received great interest from the LGBTI community and networks. They face lots of risks from bullying or physical attack, and so we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to organize training specifically for members of that group. I consider that one a success.
Regarding youth engagement, we also had an impressive success story. In March, we organized an ambitious launch event with three events in the space of eight calendar days in three different cities, and the event here in Tegucigalpa, which was the biggest event, was emceed by a young woman in her early 20s who was a graduate of another USAID program. This was a really cool experience. Instead of hiring a professional emcee, we hired this young woman who wants to work in communications. She practiced and practiced with support from our staff. Then we brought in another group of young people and, with a lot of hard work from our staff, they developed this amazing socio-drama that received [rave reviews] from everybody who attended the event. As part of our meetings in the two other cities, we offered resume and career path workshops for young people. We had over 100 people participate in workshops. This was a very successful start for us. Of course, that’s not comprehensive training, but it is part of the outreach.
We don’t want to just work toward those three project goals that I mentioned earlier, but to share our information with the larger community to help them in their own job searches.
Read the full interview here.
Find additional information and updates about the Honduras Workforce Development Activity - Empleando Futuros here.
USAID Democracy and GovernanceTechnical Meeting in El Salvador
American Institutes of Research (AIR) recently attended USAID’s Democracy and Governance Technical Meeting in San Salvador. The meeting was attended by USAID officers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as some of their implementation partners in the region. AIR presented the work they are doing as part of the Youth Violence and Crime Prevention Program (LAC-YVP), which includes creating a catalogue of all USAID interventions related to crime and violence prevention in the LAC region as well as conducting an evidence map in order to consolidate information of what works in youth crime and violence prevention and identify areas for further research and funding opportunities.
Los Angeles Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference, May 1-2, 2017
As in previous years, USAID was a co-sponsor of the Los Angeles Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was “Innovative Strategies to Reduce Community Violence.” The meeting was attended by USAID officers and officials, researchers, and implementing partners from the Northern Triangle region, Latin American countries, and countries in Europe and Africa (more than 600 total attendees). AIR was a panelist in one of the conference sessions, entitled “What does the Evidence on Effectiveness Mean?” Attendees of the conference visited the Los Angeles Police Department to learn about its gang reduction activities and spent time with local non-governmental agencies that work directly with gang-involved youth and adults.
Migration and Violence Research Study commissioned by USAID through AIR’s LAC- YVP contract
In May, AIR completed a migration and violence study commissioned by USAID through AIR’s LAC-YVP contract. For this study, AIR obtained data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on apprehensions of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at the U.S./Mexico border. Using data collected from nearly 180,000 UACs apprehended in the United States from Northern Triangle countries between 2011 and 2016, the study matched the UACs with data on homicide rates, economic conditions, and demographic conditions in their originating municipalities. The study found that higher levels of homicides in home countries caused greater numbers of UAC apprehensions in the U.S. from 2011 to 2016. The study findings will be distributed publicly later this year.
Medellin Lab: Inclusive, Safe and Resilient Cities, May 29 – June 2, 2017.
Together with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Word Bank, and the city of Medellin, the LAC-YVP is bringing together government and practitioners to learn from Medellin, one of the best examples of the 100 Resilient Cities program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation. The project helps cities to become more resilient to physical, social, and economic stresses of the 21st century.
USAID Bridges to Employment Project in El Salvador Success Stories
The USAID Bridges to Employment project in El Salvador focuses on providing training and improving employment opportunities for youth living in high-crime municipalities. The project has developed three videos demonstrating success stories:
Watch Sandra's story about how USAID Bridges to Employment gave her the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and support her family.
Watch Dalia' story about how USAID Bridges to Employment gave her the opportunity to pursue a technical degree in automatization and build a successful career.
Watch this story about how USAID Bridges to Employment partnered with FUNDEPLAST to offer youth the opportunity to train as technicians and guarantee them job placement that helped transform their lives.
With one in every six youth in Kenya unemployed, the USAID K-YES program is empowering youth with desirable skills to meet current market demands and make them more employable in the long run. Results are promising, and the youth are using their skills to secure jobs and empower others in their communities. Entrepreneurship trainings are helping youth convert their passions for activities like dancing and cutting hair into economic opportunities. Investments in training are paying off with 3,000 youth having undergone vocational training and 70% of those accessing apprenticeships. Integrated program initiatives have seen 10,500 youth gain new or better employment during the last two years. The bulk of these jobs are in the informal sector, which accounts for over 80% of jobs created nationally. Read about some of the success stories here.
Developing a Skills Curriculum for National Implementation
K-YES in partnership with other stakeholders is developing a curriculum that covers training for the poultry, sales and marketing, hospitality, masonry, and plumbing industries. This educational material has successfully undergone a piloting phase in selected counties and now awaits consent from a national certifying entity that will see it adapted by vocational training centers nationally. Youth employment figures are expected to improve once the newly developed curriculum is approved for national roll-out.
The program also secured a $25,000 grant to support 'bunges', or democratic youth groups, at the county level and help in implementing selected activities. Established under the previous Yes Youth Can Program in the country, bunges play a key role mobilizing and ensuring youth participation in program activities at the county level.
The program's success has attracted interest among other key stakeholders, including U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, who visited the program site in Garissa and interacted with beneficiaries. A video is available here.
The TVET-SAY project, known in Spanish as "Aprendo y Emprendo", is supporting youth from ethnic minorities to develop skills for work and life by enrolling them in technical training followed by internships with potential employers or support to start their own small business. Project implementers have selected 11 scholarship recipients from Nicaragua's Caribbean coast to study at the competitive Fundación Victoria in Nicaragua's capital city of Managua. They are the first group of students from the Caribbean coast to benefit from these scholarships. Fundación Victoria is one of nine technical vocational education and training centers collaborating with the TVET-SAY project to provide certification, life skills and jobs for at-risk youth through scholarships and mentoring. During its five-year duration, the TVET-SAY project expects to provide technical vocational education and training scholarships for 1,000 at-risk youth, including indigenous and afro-descendant youth. Read about some of the success stories here.
Empowering Minority Women in Nicaragua
The TVET-SAY project awarded 22 scholarships to students to attend a six-month Outboard Motor Repair training course. Two of the scholarship recipients are women and to date, 55 women have been enrolled in technical education programs with support from the project. Half of the 1,000 at-risk youth who receive technical vocational education and training scholarships will be women, with the goal of increasing their participation in non-traditional technical careers. Read the full article here.
The CoP hosted an in-person meeting on May 2, 2017 in Washington, D.C., offering an opportunity for CoP members to connect and discuss priorities for the next few months. Dr. Michael McGill, Director of Peacebuilders, presented results from a multi-country evaluation of a child and youth engagement project in peacebuilding and shared a framework that his organization is using called the Child and Youth Peacebuilding Wheel. The CoP also discussed a document on Promising Practices in Engaging Youth in Peace and Security and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) that was shared by USAID's Youth Coordinator Michael McCabe, and members were invited to add their comments. The CoP will be preparing activities to mark the International Youth Day in August. The recording and resources from the meeting are available here. The event was hosted by YouthPower Learning's partner, Young Americas Business Trust.
CoP members are currently working on a technical brief about "Promising Practices in Engaging Youth in Peace and Security and Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE)". The brief aims to summarize some of the best practices around youth in peace and security and P/CVE and to synthesize existing research into a format that would be useful to USAID staff, implementing partners, and other youth-serving or youth-led organizations.
Grants Under Contract
For the Advancing the Evidence Base for Youth Civic Engagement in Effective Peacebuilding or Mitigating Violent Extremism Request for Applications, YouthPower Learning received 113 applications from organizations operating in 55 countries. In May, members of the CoP and the Grant Selection Committee completed the initial review of the applications; the final grantee selection is expected in July.
The CoP is currently working on its second technical brief, which will gather and synthesize lessons learned from implementers’ experiences adapting soft-skills measurement tools in different contexts. Measuring soft skills across contexts presents a challenge for many practitioners involved in skills development programs for youth. Specific barriers to adapting skills measurement tools include the use of varying terminology, contextual barriers to certain skills measurement questions, and self-reporting bias. There are, however, many promising instances in which implementers have attempted to adapt tools in different contexts, assessing soft skills among a diverse group of youth beneficiaries. Members’ insights will be captured through three case studies and synthesized into lessons learned which will be shared with the other CoP members and the broader community. This technical brief is intended to be a means of leveraging CoP members' knowledge and experiences to improve practices. Stay tuned for our findings!
The CoP hosted an event on April 6, 2017, titled, "Giving Adolescents a Voice: Age-Appropriate Methods that Work for Measuring Gender Norms Across Contexts". The panel discussion explored developmentally-appropriate, participatory methods and tools to engage adolescents in effective research and intervention design for transforming gender norms. Dr. Rebecka Lundgren and a panel of global experts on adolescents shared their experiences supporting adolescents in India, Nepal, Rwanda, and Uganda in constructing their identities through voice and agency. You can access the webinar recording and presentations here.
Grants Under Contract
Applicants from 19 countries submitted a total of 35 applications for the Advancing the Evidence Base for Gender-Transformative Positive Youth Development Request for Applications. Members of the CoP and the Grant Selection Committee reviewed the applications throughout May, and, based on the Committee’s recommendation for selection, YouthPower Learning expects to announce grant awards in June.
The CoP hosted a webinar on May 17, 2017, titled "Engaging Hard-to-Reach Youth in Research and Evaluation". The webinar featured presenters from Search for Common Ground, ADD International, and Communities in Collaboration. A recording of the webinar and additional resources are available here.
Youth Engagement CoP Meeting
The CoP hosted its second in-person meeting of the year on May 23, 2017 at the Banyan Global office in Washington, D.C. Ahmaed Sadig, Project Manager; Abeer Omer, Program Consultant; and Hashim Yousif, Youth Development Specialist from the Youth Forum Organization of Sudan presented on "Youth Policy in Sudan". Louis Alexander, Principal Associate for Youth Practice, and David Morgan, Senior Program Coordinator from Banyan Global presented on "Empleando Futuros: Workforce Development to Employ the Future of Honduras". A recording of the meeting and presentation slides can be found here.
CoP members are currently working on two technical briefs – one on implementing youth engagement indicators and another on making the pitch for youth engagement to colleagues, community members, and other stakeholders. Both are anticipated for release within the next several months.
The CoP is in the process of planning for a third webinar on the topic of engaging youth in research and evaluation to be held in the late summer or early fall.
It's a Matter of Interpretation: Examining Soft Skills Data as a Community of Practice
By Rebecca Pagel, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Associate,
Education Development Center (EDC)
This blog post from Rebecca Pagel, Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Associate at Education Development Center (EDC), discusses how a study, conducted in Honduras, the Philippines, and Rwanda, examined and compared the skills that youth, employers, and educators, respectively, felt were ideal for success in employment and education.
While a growing body of research points to the importance of soft skills development for youths’ education and employment outcomes, less is known about how youth perceive the importance of these skills. Do youth value some soft skills more than others? Do they value different skills than employers and educators do? That’s what we are studying in an ongoing soft skills study funded by a YouthPower Learning grant. During a recent event hosted by the YouthPower Learning’s Cross-Sectoral Skills for Youth Community of Practice (CoP) our EDC research team elicited feedback on and discuss the meaning of initial findings from the study tackling these questions.
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