2016 and 2017 Awards
Grants under Contract

Grants provided under YouthPower Learning 

Inspired by research needs and topics identified by the Communities of Practice and in response to other research needs, YouthPower Learning uses grants under contract to engage with youth and contribute to the learning of the network. Since inception, ten grants have been awarded.

The objective of the first RFA and grant program was to engage US and developing country youth-serving and youth-led non-profit and for-profit organizations in efforts to further assess, evaluate, document and disseminate innovative work in positive youth development (PYD) and cross-sectoral youth programming.  
The following grantees were selected:
• Education Development Center, Inc.: Identifying Cross-Cutting Non-Cognitive Skills for Positive Youth Development
• JA Worldwide: Amplifying the Voice of Young People around the World
• Komo Learning Centres: KLC Youth-Led Club Documentary Project
• Restless Development: Inspire, Influence and Inform: a video series highlighting young people’s role in Positive Youth Development programs

The objective of the second RFA and grant program was to advance the evidence base for gender-transformative positive youth development
The following grantees were selected:
• Mercy Corps: Girl Research and Learning Power (GRL Power)
• Waves for Change: Moving beyond data disaggregation: utilizing evaluation systems to promote gender equality in sports development for youth at scale

The objective of the third RFA and grant program was to advance the evidence base for youth civic engagement in effective peacebuilding or in countering / prevention of violent extremism.
The following grantees were selected:
• Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, Tajikistan
• Association Malienne pour la Survie au Sahel (AMSS)

• United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY)
• Equal Access​


Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)

Identifying Cross-Cutting Non-Cognitive Skills for Positive Youth Development

The goal of this grant was to improve understanding of how mismatches in youth’s and stakeholders’ perceptions of soft skills, as well as gendered perceptions of soft skills, can affect a youth’s employment or education outcomes. This study was designed to increase understanding of the measurement and expression of soft skills in different contexts by engaging youth’s voices, employers, and educators in declaring what soft skills are considered valuable. It explored country contexts and sector contexts in determining what soft skills are valuable to youth across both the education and employment sectors. This research focused on building upon and leveraging three active youth development projects: Akazi Kanoze/Rwanda, Advancing Youth/Liberia and MYDev/Philippines. This study allowed for a deeper investigation into how a youth’s life satisfaction correlates with his or her perception of which soft skills are most valuable, with his or her Big Five Inventory score, and with stakeholders’ perceptions of which soft skills are most valuable. Such inquiry allows for a greater understanding of how to improve youth’s skills that results in employment across sectors, engages youth voices, and promotes positive youth development by being responsive to youth’s preconceptions about their lives and places in the world.

1) a photo gallery event shared images captured by youth participants that portrayed the soft skills they valued in context and environment. , and
2) a written report, A Study on Cross-Cutting Non-Cognitive Skills: Uncovering Youth’s Values, which describes findings obtained through analysis of survey data and focus group discussion data supported by youth’s photographic representations of the soft skills they value. 

young man cutting wood, LAC; credit EDC

​JA Worldwide

This grant, in partnership with JA Worldwide's global network, will work with six young people to create a set of videos (four full-length videos, and two “insta-videos”) that document the experiences of participants in the grantee’s program that engages high-school-aged students in organizing and operating an actual business. Working in partnership with these students, the JA Worldwide will define a framework to focus the videos' messages  to clearly illustrate the benefits of engaging youth in programming. Additionally, the project will aim to ensure inclusion of stories with gender, ethnicity, age, urban/rural balance in mind. With a focus on five geographic regions (Africa, Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and Middle East and North Africa), this project aims to highlight the stories of the youth JA Worldwide work with in the context of key global issues (e.g., growing youth population, financial literacy and inclusion, youth unemployment, secondary-school drop-out rates, marginalized youth, female inclusivity and family support).  these co-produced videos will bring the ‘human’ element to youth empowerment activities by highlighting personal journeys with a youth voice.

The ultimate goal is to share the deeply transformative impact of engaging youth in societies. JA Worldwide offers a lens to youth engagement that demonstrates its multiple facets within one type of program that cuts across countries and continents. This video series will provide insights on how to shape youth engagement within a program framework that is culturally responsive.

Diana Martínez Mancilla | MexdeSolar | México. Credit: JA Worldwide

Komo Learning Centres

KLC Youth-Led Club Documentary Project

This grant produced nine videos detailing the concept, activities, challenges, and lessons learned of the grantee’s Youth-Led Club (YLC), established in February 2016, and has provided an opportunity for young people to meaningfully contribute. The videos document the first year of the YLC – from recruitment and leadership elections, to designing and implementing YLC activities. YLC members and their youth leadership have been involved in conceiving, designing, and shooting the videos. They have structured the videos, given their perspective in interviews, conducted interviews with other youth and community members, received training on video equipment operation, taken part in the technical shooting of the video, participated in post-production editing, and reviewed and provided feedback on the videos before they were finalized. This grantee offers a lens to youth engagement that demonstrates an in-depth approach within one local program. These videos provide a “day in the life” type of insight on how to set up youth-led clubs and showcase the challenges, successes, and process of establishing and maintaining a youthled club over a year.

All nine videos can be viewed online:
YLC Concept, Impacts, and Expectations; 
Recruitment and Club Structure;
Community Needs Assessment, Activity Prioritization, and Decision-Making;
Capacity Building through Trainings and Workshops;
Activity Planning and Design;
Activity Implementation and Evaluation;
Gender and Age Issues;
YLC Challenges, Solutions, and Benefits; and
The Process Of Making the Video Series
In addition, Komo Learning Centres has held workshops with Ugandan stakeholders (e.g., at the National Youth Working Group Meeting) to present project findings, start a dialogue on meaningful youth engagement, and document stakeholder feedback.

#painting#Sam#ourartist#lawstudent#Nawecclinic, Photo Credit: Komo Learning Centres

Restless Development USA

Inspire, Influence and Inform: A Video Series Highlighting Young People’s Role in Positive Youth Development Programs

This grant has created a video series – approximately 10-15 short videos from a variety of contexts (in 3 countries across Africa and South Asia minimum) – directly featuring the perspectives and experiences of young people. The videos address the benefits, impacts, best practices and challenges of youth engagement in order to inspire and influence the development sector on why youth engagement is important and beneficial, as well as to inform the sector on how to do youth engagement successfully. The grantee has produced a series of interconnected videos on multiple elements of youth engagement through which an audience member can click through to learn and explore. The videos answer a series of key questions and topics, determined by the experience of the grantee and the needs identified in conversation with the YouthPower Learning community, by featuring the grantee’s networks of young people who have been engaged in and lead its programs. In addition, the grantee developed 1-2 questions for youth and youth-led organizations covering more countries and all regions of the world, and ask young people to make and submit a video response. These have been edited into a compilation video.

Watch the video series here
This series of videos can serve as a promotional and training resource for the entire YouthPower community including USAID Missions, private sector companies, research organizations, INGO partners, young people, and youthled organizations. It will be a go-to source of supporting information and guidance on best practices and insights into youth engagement for PYD. This grantee offers a broad lens to youth engagement, demonstrating multiple facets and applications of youth engagement across contexts, programs and individuals. This video series illustrates to viewers how to do youth engagement in a variety of settings.

India Development Mojo training Munger; Credit: Restless

Mercy Corps 

Girl Research and Learning Power (GRL Power)
The goal of GRL Power in Jordan is to equip adolescent girls with the knowledge and skills to conduct qualitative research; empower them to build upon efforts to create safe public spaces for girls and women by designing and undertaking their own research on topics that impact their lives; and to share these learnings and the girl-led research process with INGOs, national NGOs, UN agencies, the Jordanian government, and universities. Through this grant, GRL Power will:
  1. Establish and build the skills, knowledge and capacity of a group of girl researchers who can provide research services to the broader development community;
  2. Demonstrate the capacity of adolescent girls as researchers and the impact of investing in their empowerment; and
  3. Document and share lessons around the design and measurement of the impact that adolescent girls can have in mobilizing communities to foster safer public spaces and to reduce the potential for gender-based violence (GBV).

Deliverables can be found here.

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Waves for Change

Moving beyond data disaggregation: utilizing evaluation systems to promote gender equality in sports development for youth at scale

 This grant will help ensure that the South Africa-based Waves for Change (W4C) Surf Therapy program design maximizes holistic gender equality. This, in turn, will inform wider policy for improving gender equality in PYD programs—especially sports-based programs—in community-led initiatives, which will benefit both W4C’s network and the wider youth development community.

 W4C will use this grant to develop a framework for a gender-sensitive, systematic monitoring, evaluation, learning, and adaptation cycle. This will enable its staff to improve gender norms through a community-led initiative in areas where locals believe girls cannot do the same things as boys. This project builds on W4C’s ongoing innovative programmatic efforts to address gender barriers to participation and will enable W4C to maximize equality through gender-sensitive research expertise, coupled with data analysis and knowledge translation. To meet the proposed goal and objective of this grant, W4C will complete a full cycle of monitoring, evaluation, learning, and adaptation, taking advantage of an experiment within W4C programming around the inclusion of female participants. 

Waves for Change participants

Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia, Tajikistan

EFCA’s research seeks to concretize the impact of local and international efforts in youth civic engagement and peacebuilding by identifying (1) the boosters and barriers that influence young people’s decisions to invest themselves in civic youth engagement and peacebuilding projects; (2) if and how youth participation in such projects contributes to peacebuilding and in countering/preventing violent extremism; and (3) the contextual factors, local, programmatic, approach, etc., that affect the impact of such projects, and what factors can be scaled up or transferred to other contexts.

By leveraging projects implemented by EFCA and other implementers over the last decade that focus on fostering youth civic engagement, the research will offer insight into the effectiveness of youth engagement projects—with a particular focus on their contribution to peacebuilding—and how to improve existing programming. This grant will produce a detailed research study with key recommendations (including appropriate analysis of successful theories of change) for stakeholders to improve programming and an accompanying multilingual, multimedia product. 

Participants in a positive youth development project implemented by EFCA - Tajikistan pose at a conference in the Gorno-Badakhshan region of Tajikistan.

Association Malienne pour la Survie au Sahel (AMSS)

Youth Choosing Peace: Comparative Research in Northern Mali (TCP: Mali)

The Youth Choosing Peace: Mali (YCP: Mali) study will examine the dynamics of youth engagement in peacebuilding and conflict in Mali’s Bourem-Inaly and Lafia, two communes with very different, contrasting dynamics about youth participating in peacebuilding and conflict.  Practitioners will gain transferable approaches for youth engagement in peacebuilding across contexts—especially modern contexts influenced by overlapping conflict dynamics. The 12-month study’s resulting suite of materials will make results accessible, shareable, and useable: 

  • A 10-15 page research document with a description of the research methodology, key findings, first-person and focus group accounts, and recommendations; 
  • A two-page practitioner briefer in English, French, and local Malian languages (and with illustrations for the illiterate) for wide dissemination;
  • Video of first-person experiences to use at local events to raise awareness of youth perspectives;
  • A three-day reflection workshop in Timbuktu, where youth from a variety of backgrounds can comment on the research and provide ground truth for its recommendations;
  • A one-day dissemination workshop for the international development implementing-partner and donor communities to learn from YCP: Mali’s findings. 
Association Malienne pour la Survie au Sahel (AMSS)

UNOY Peacebuilders

Understanding youth-led civic engagement in peacebuilding: Examining the context and contributions of young peacebuilders in Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone and Colombia

UNOY Peacebuilders will document and exam young people's roles in peacebuilding and study the factors that enable or/and constrain these roles. The youth-led participatory action research will take place in four countries where UNOY Peacebuilders’ members have been actively involved in different types of peacebuilding activities: Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone, and Colombia. These countries cover different stages of conflict (in conflict/war, early post-peace agreement and consolidated peace agreement). A comparative study will examine youth roles in civic engagement initiatives in different cultural, historical, and geographical contexts, where factors like gender and age may shape the roles of youth in peacebuilding in different ways. The grant will also provide youth research capacity building through training in the four countries. Research findings will be used to develop a series of policy briefs in order to inform policies and programming related to youth participation in peacebuilding. 

Place: Training of Advocates 2015, The Hague - The Netherlands. Description: Young advocates and peacebuilders participating in the International Training of Advocates, where the participants were trained to influence discussions around peace and security nationally and internationally. Photo taken by: Emad Karim.

Equal Access International

Radicalization and Empowerment: Re-Framing Human Potential to Strengthen Youth Civic Engagement in Northern Nigeria

This grant will provide understanding about the little-researched relationship between empowerment and radicalization in Nigeria’s northern youth population. The research will also aim to reframe current understanding of youth radicalization, empowerment, agency, and self-actualization in social change, peacebuilding, and PYD work. Equal Access will examine the psychological, cognitive, and behavioral relationship between radicalization and empowerment and examine the experiences and aspirations of radicalized youth. The results will provide a foundation, applicable across multiple contexts, for designing evidence-based civic engagement activities that truly appeal to, and are owned by, local communities and that pull young people toward civic engagement and social change work, instead of involvement in armed opposition groups, crime, or other destructive paths. The project will produce a research report based on desk and field research and will disseminate findings through workshops in Nigeria and Washington, DC. 

Equal Access