YouthPower Learning Newsletter September 2017


The 2017 YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting, held on September 26 in Washington D.C., was a demonstration of how much progress has been made with positive youth development (PYD). It was encouraging to witness the expansion of our knowledge base in this field. There was a real sense of excitement throughout the day: so many of the projects and solutions discussed include a PYD approach. 
YouthPower Learning is delighted to announce two new grantees, Mercy Corps and Waves for Change, who will work to advance the evidence base for gender-transformative PYD. In this issue we also share final deliverables from three of last year’s grantees: EDC, Restless Development, and Komo Learning Centres.

New technical briefs – ranging from making the pitch for youth engagement, to promising practices in engaging youth in peacebuilding or CVE/PVE, to measuring youth competencies across contexts – and a series of webinars add to YouthPower Learning’s rich set of recent resources, which youth programmers and funders can leverage for their activities.

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share your own resources and PYD approaches and tools on (email and disseminate your knowledge through YouthPower Learning’s Communities of Practice.

We hope that you will take advantage of these new resources and upcoming events!

The YouthPower Learning Team
 Events · YouthPower Learning · YouthPower Action · CoP · Grants under Contract · Field · Resources

YouthPower Learning Updates


Kate Somvongsiri, USAID, opens the 2017 YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting in Washington, D.C.

YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting: Summaries, Resources and Recordings



This year’s annual meeting hosted 181 in-person attendees, with an additional 131 registered to watch the Lightning Talks in a live stream. USAID’s Elizabeth Berard and Kate Somvongsiri kicked off the meeting, emphasizing the importance of youth in USAID policy and programming. A panel of young leaders and a youth-led activity added inspiration and energy to the meeting. Attendees learned from PYD approaches in YouthPower implementation projects in Honduras, El Salvador, and Mozambique. Evaluators and researchers then shared their successes and challenges in measuring PYD and engaging youth in research activities. In addition, youth program implementers, advocates, and researchers shared innovations for youth programming through 11 lightning talks, followed by 29 round table discussions and 10 poster sessions. Explore the annual meeting on

As part of the YouthPower Learning Systematic Review Webinar Series, the authors of the recently released Systematic Review of Positive Youth Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) and guest speakers analyzed in more detail the available evidence on PYD in HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health programming. The recording and slides from the webinar, What do We Know about Positive Youth Development (PYD) – A Closer Look at PYD for HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health Programming, are available on

YouthPower Action Updates

On August 10, YouthPower Action presented research results, published in the supplement to the journal AIDS, to improve HIV testing and linkage to care among adolescents and young people in a webinar entitled: Achieving 90²: Young People, HIV Testing Services and Linkage to Treatment.

The speakers presented selected articles that focus on the need for youth engagement, the role of voluntary male medical circumcision, new strategies such as self-testing, and the pressing needs of adolescents regarding HIV testing and linkage to care in the United States and internationally. View the webinar and the slides on

Measuring Soft Skills

At the YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting, YouthPower Action announced that it has developed an instrument to measure soft skills and shared the current version during round table discussions. This new instrument, which will be piloted in FY18, builds on a recent review of existing instruments, “Measuring Soft & Life Skills in International Youth Development Programs: A Review and Inventory of Tools”  

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Communities of Practice (CoP) Updates

Cross-Sectoral Skills COP

The Cross-Sectoral Skills CoP has recently finalized and published a technical brief, Measuring Youth Competencies across Contexts: Lessons from Implementers on How to Adapt Soft Skills Measurement Tools. This technical brief gathers and synthesizes lessons learned from implementers’ experiences adapting soft skills measurement tools in diverse geographic and cultural contexts. Through a brief scan of the literature and three implementer case studies, the brief leverages the knowledge and experiences of CoP members to help improve practitioners’ familiarity with these tools by identifying common challenges and lessons learned. 

EDC, which was awarded a grant last year 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, has submitted its final deliverables (see Grants under Contract section for more details).

Gender and PYD COP

On August 15, the Gender and PYD CoP organized a webinar, “Increasing Men’s and Boys’ Access to HIV Prevention and Treatment in Zambia: Test and Treat through Community Insakas.” Guest speaker Raymond Havwala from the MenEngage Zambia Alliance discussed effective strategies to engage men and boys in accessing HIV care, treatment, and prevention at the community level.

The CoP has completed their input into the grant selection process and two grants have been awarded (see Grants under Contract section for more details).

The CoP also shared initial insights from its forthcoming brief on youth and sexual coercion with participants at the YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting. The CoP Co-Champions are incorporating feedback from the meeting and CoP members to finalize the document.

Youth Engagement COP

The Youth Engagement CoP recently finalized and published “Making the Pitch for Youth Engagement,” a technical brief designed to aid practitioners in pitching the value of youth engagement to various audiences.

Jointly with the American Evaluation Association Youth-Focused Evaluation Topical Interest Group, they also organized an informative webinar featuring insight from youth evaluators, “Youth Voice in Action: Tips, Strategies, and Advice from Youth Evaluators.” On September 13, this webinar’s panel of presenters, which included inspiring youth voices, shared insights about the positive contributions that youth make to research and evaluation activities, and what the youth themselves learn as a result of participating.

In addition, two of the recipients of grants awarded in 2016 to create a repository of videos that highlight young people sharing experiences of being engaged in youth programs, along with the benefits and impacts of their participation, have submitted their final deliverables (see more details in the Grants Under Contract section).

Youth in Peace and Security COP

The Youth in Peace and Security CoP has recently finalized and published a technical brief, “Promising Practices in Engaging Youth in Peace and Security and PVE/CVE. This brief seeks to identify best practices, bright spots, and possible opportunities to recognize youth as positive agents for peacebuilding and security, rather than stigmatizing them, with a primary focus on preventing violent extremism/countering violent extremism (PVE/CVE). It operates under the hypothesis that youth engagement in positive alternatives to violence should be maximized in order for peace to take hold.

On September 20, the CoP started the first in a series of webinars on Youth, Conflict, and Peacebuilding (YCP), jointly organized with YouthPower Action and Peace Exchange. The webinar, “USAID YouthPower Tools for Positive Youth Development and Peacebuilding”, how PYD features and tools can be applied in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The slides can be accessed on

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Grants under Contract 

Newly Awarded Grants

At the YouthPower Annual Learning Network Meeting, YouthPower Learning announced two new grantees (awarded in response to RFA 002, which was inspired by concepts developed by the Gender and PYD CoP). These grantees were selected from among 35 applicants. We thank all applicants for their submissions.

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).

Waves for Change: Moving beyond data disaggregation: utilizing evaluation systems to promote gender equality in sports development for youth at scale
This project 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.

Grantee Deliverables


Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC)

Understanding how mismatches in youth’s and stakeholders’ perceptions of soft skills can affect a youth’s employment or education outcomes.
The goal of this grant (awarded in response to RFA 001, which was inspired by concepts developed by the Cross-Sectoral Skills CoP) 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. 

EDC has completed its research and the final report, A Study on Cross-Cutting Non-Cognitive Skills: Uncovering Youth’s Values; a photo gallery event shared images captured by youth participants that portrayed the soft skills they valued in context and environment.   

Komo Learning Centres

The Komo Youth-Led Club Documentary Project has created safe spaces for genuine youth voices. Experience a year in the development of youth-led clubs in Uganda.
This grant’s goal (awarded in response to RFA 001, which was inspired by concepts developed by the Youth Engagement CoP) was to produce videos detailing the concept, activities, challenges, and lessons learned of the grantee’s Youth-Led Club (YLC), established in February 2016. 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 were involved in conceiving, designing, and shooting the videos. The final videos are an excellent testament of what youth can achieve through dedication and leadership, and with minimal guidance. 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.

Restless Development

The videos produced under this grant address the benefits, impacts, best practices, and challenges of youth engagement.

Watch the series here.
The videos produced under this grant address the benefits, impacts, best practices, and challenges of youth engagement. The material aims to inspire and influence the development sector regarding the importance and benefits of youth engagement and provide strategies for success. The grantee produced a series of videos on multiple elements of youth engagement through which an audience member can learn and explore. The videos answer a series of key questions and topics, determined by the experience of the grantees and featuring the grantee’s networks of young people who have been engaged in, and lead, the programs.

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Field Updates

USAID and YouthPower IDIQ holder learning sessions

Over the summer, YouthPower Learning organized three webinars with USAID and YouthPower IDIQ holders to facilitate discussions regarding the implementation of PYD in ongoing or recently completed YouthPower implementation projects.

The webinar series, “What Are We Learning About Positive Youth Development (PYD) Implementations?” addresses the following questions:

  1. How are you implementing PYD? Which positive youth development (PYD) features does your project include, and why were they selected?
  2. Can you identify up to three initial benefits of using a PYD approach that you have experienced in your project?
  3. What are three challenges related to implementing a PYD approach? Please identify specific challenges related to integrating PYD in a workforce development (WFD) project? Are there some features that were easier to include than others? Why?
  4. What are more general challenges experienced in the implementation of the project? Do you think use of more PYD features would have helped (or could help) to address these challenges?
  5. What are your three key recommendations for future implementations/implementers based on what you have learned so far?
  6. What would you recommend to USAID in the implementation of future youth programs with similar target populations?  

Resources from these webinars with the following projects, including recordings and slides, are available on

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Editorial Team

Maria Brindlmayer, YouthPower Learning, Senior Knowledge Management Specialist
Cassandra Jessee, YouthPower Learning, Project Director
Christina Zola, YouthPower Learning, Communications Manager
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