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, seventeen grants have been awarded.
The objective of the most recent RFA and grant program is to engage low- and middle-income country youth-serving and youth-led organizations in efforts to collect and share learning, and to capture new evidence and approaches to improve young women’s economic opportunities.
The following grantees were selected:
• Asante Africa Foundation
• Disabled Women Empowerment Center
• Dream Factory Foundation
• Kibera Community Empowerment Organization
• Safeplan Uganda
• The Biz Nation
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
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 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
Young Women Transform Prize
Disabled Women Empowerment Center (DWEC) Kaski, is an organization run by and for Nepali women with disabilities. They encourage full participation, inclusion, and contribution of women with disabilities in the community and run programs to protect their rights, and to improve their social, political, educational, economic and psycho-social status. The Young Women Transform – Creation Prize will support their work with the proposed project, “Accessible training and entrepreneur incubation project for girls and women with disabilities” in the Pokhara, Kaski district of Nepal.
Asante Africa Foundation educates East African youth in “last mile” communities to tackle life’s challenges, thrive in the global economy, and catalyze positive change. The organization partners with local communities to address the root causes preventing children from receiving a quality education and provide skills to apply their knowledge beyond the classroom. The organization’s areas of focus include keeping girls in school and on the path to success, ensuring strong academic learning and student-centered teaching, and young people developing a life plan for themselves with job readiness and small business skills.
The Recognition Prize enables Asante Africa to conduct a system level evaluation of their Girl-Led Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Program. Critical focus is placed on longer-term impact of the program in leadership, job readiness, and entrepreneurship skills of youth through extracurricular, collaborative, hands-on activities as well as active community engagement by encouraging sharing of their knowledge within their communities.
The Dream Factory Foundation empowers youth from marginalized and underprivileged backgrounds to transition successfully into adulthood and make a full contribution to society. The Creation Prize will support the innovative Emergent Business and Coding Academy, which combines computer science, digital, business, and job-readiness skills training with actual job experience. The business component of the academy is accredited, providing participants with a post-school qualification–-the first such program in South Africa–that allows traditionally underrepresented young women to tap into the growth potential in the digital sector in South Africa.
The activity will contribute to eliminating the causes of poverty on a grassroots level by providing socio-economic support and economically empowering young women so that they may become economically active and independent citizens, thereby lowering their degree of vulnerably to contracting HIV. Dream Factory Foundation also expects to provide young women the opportunity to develop their personal and professional skills, enhancing the likelihood that they are able to obtain jobs in the traditionally male-dominated technology and computer science industry and/or start their own sustainable entrepreneurial initiative.
KCEO’s youth-led Young Mothers Incubation program in Kibera, Kenya provides a safe space for young mothers living with disabilities and for those who have been subjected to stigma, discrimination, and sexual abuse. This safe space allows these young women to share and interact with each other; meet successful women with disabilities and human rights advocates; and explore the opportunities available for women with disabilities in Kenya such as relevant social services and platforms for empowerment through linkages with the National Disability Society.
The Young Mothers Incubation has received the Recognition Prize for its innovative work empowering young mothers with disabilities to rebuild their self-esteem; improve their literacy; and hone their leadership, digital literacy, and entrepreneurship skills; and for its efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination facing these young mothers through its engagement with the local community.
Safeplan Uganda is a youth-founded and focused organization addressing the challenges youth face in finding employment opportunity. The goal of Safeplan Uganda is to empower young people through skills and awareness training to enhance their potential in becoming responsible citizens. The organization uses economic empowerment activities as a tool to provide a lifelong source for sustainable livelihoods.
The Young Women Transform – Recognition Prize recognizes the Budongo Women Bee Enterprise initiative led by Safeplan Uganda. The main purpose of establishing Budongo Women Bee Enterprises was to address women’s economic needs through cooperative bee farming, where women are supported with basic skills and tools in bee farming as they address climate change through environmentally friendly activities. Through the prize, Safeplan Uganda will expand the activities that benefit women’s economic transformation.
The Biz Nation’s Young Women Productive Education Program addresses barriers to young women’s economic empowerment in impoverished regions of the Caribbean coast in Colombia through providing young women entrepreneurship, innovation, and vocational training. To provide young women with access to technology they do not have otherwise, and to train them in this technology, The Biz Nation partners with local educational institutions and organizations to provide the young women with computers and internet access free of charge in underserved communities, so that the women do not have to travel to access these resources.
With the Recognition Prize, the Biz Nation will create a course or number of courses for its online platform about effective education in particular communities. This will allow them to share lessons both locally and globally whilst simultaneously collecting feedback and ideas to adapt programs. The Biz Nation will also build on its successful track record hosting convening events to facilitate international events with educators, partners, and organizations working in young women’s education and empowerment to present its program findings, outcomes, and lessons learned.
Visionaria Network is a non-profit with a mission to activate visions for sustainable development. Visionaria programs combine hands-on learning experiences and a “Visionaria” (female visionary) mindset to empower young people and entrepreneurs around the world to envision and dictate their own futures, and the future of their communities.
The Young Women Transform –Creation Prize will enable over 500 girls to participate in the Visionaria for Schools program in 2019, support the Visionaria team to design student portfolios that demonstrate students' growth in core employability competencies through the program, and host a new employer-focused Job and Employability Fair in Cusco, Peru.
The Visionaria for Schools program (VfS) in Peru, spurs young women to be change makers in their own lives and communities. It does this by enabling youth to develop agency, critical thinking, interpersonal and higher-order thinking skills; and by engaging youth in sustainable development projects with other leaders in their communities.
Evidence for Youth Civic Engagement in Effective Peacebuilding or C/PVE
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.
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.
Understanding youth-led civic engagement in peacebuilding: Examining the context and contributions of young peacebuilders in Afghanistan, Libya, Sierra Leone and Colombia
UNOY Peacebuilders documented and examined young people's roles in peacebuilding and studied the factors that enable or/and constrain these roles. The youth-led participatory action research took 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 examined 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 also provided youth research capacity building through training in the four countries. Research findings were used to develop a series of policy briefs in order to inform policies and programming related to youth participation in peacebuilding. In addition, young researchers wrote blogs about their experiences.
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.
Evidence for Gender Transformative PYD
- Establish and build the skills, knowledge and capacity of a group of girl researchers who can provide research services to the broader development community;
- Demonstrate the capacity of adolescent girls as researchers and the impact of investing in their empowerment; and
- 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)
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.
Document Innovative Work in PYD
This grant, in partnership with JA Worldwide's global network, worked 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 defined 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 highlights 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 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 provides insights on how to shape youth engagement within a program framework that is culturally responsive.
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.
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.
Evaluating Cross-Sectoral Youth Programming
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.