Global Highlights: USAID Youth Programs


YouthMap Africa (Regional)

YouthMap is a four-year project designed to assess the challenges facing youth in sub-Saharan Africa as well as the most promising opportunities to address these challenges and promote youth development. USAID is supporting holistic assessments on the conditions of young people and the status of the schools and public services for youth in eight countries. Assessments have already been completed in Senegal and Uganda and underway in southern Sudan and Mozambique. Based on the comprehensive information collected in the assessments, USAID’s YouthMap Innovation Fund will provide seed grants in each country to address gaps in existing programs as well as replicate and scale up successful innovations related to education and economic growth. In this way, USAID’s seed grants will support activities led by youth, for youth and make a real impact on the issues that affect youth locally.

Yes Youth Can! (Kenya)

USAID is engaging Kenyan youth in local and national issues that affect them through the newly developed $45 million initiative, Yes, Youth Can! Youth are able to develop their entrepreneurial skills, access employment opportunities, and empower themselves to be positive forces for change in their communities. USAID is building the capacity of grassroots youth organizations to promote youth voices in local and national policy dialogue, participate in inter-ethnic coalitions, and create new livelihoods for youth.

The Mali Out-of-School Youth Project (Mali)

USAID’s Out-of-School Youth Project in Mali works with 10,000 youth in 200 villages to provide quality basic education services, technical and vocational training, as well as training in entrepreneurship and leadership. The program targets youth aged 14 to 25 who are un-schooled or out-of-school and have no or marginal literacy skills. USAID works closely with government ministries on youth policy issues, improves existing job training mechanisms and the transitions from training to full-time employment, strengthens the capacity of youth associations, and works to create opportunities for youth to secure sustainable incomes. By linking investments in youth entrepreneurship with volunteerism and community service, the project seeks to create stronger, more resilient communities. This is especially important in places such as the Timbuktu region of the North, where terrorism, drug trafficking, and recurrent drought threaten regional security.

The Rwanda Youth Project: Information Technologies Empower Youth (Rwanda)

USAID is linking youth to employment in Rwanda through enhanced training and advanced use of information technologies. Through the Project, approximately 2,000 youth have already been trained and employed.  USAID reaches out to youth in innovative ways, including a radio talk show on youth entrepreneurship and youth employability skills and an SMS text message system that advertises new income-generating opportunities. The program also uses interactive radio instruction and interviews with role models and young entrepreneurs to provide key information for youth job seekers. Lastly, the program facilitates job-matching through the development of a job-search website that includes a database of job seekers and employers.

Entertainment Education to Promote Livelihoods (Somalia)

In Somalia, USAID is reaching out to youth in an innovative way to help them acquire financial literacy skills and find appropriate jobs in their communities. A soap opera has been specially designed to educate listeners in an engaging format, which is a proven method of disseminating important information to young audiences. The production is broadcast in the Somali language using MP3-enabled mobile phones. Phones are distributed to provide free access to cellular content for groups of listeners, and offer several advantages over radio due to Somali radio broadcasting restrictions, the possibility of radio station shut-downs, and radio disruptions due to unrest or poor reception quality. In the series, youth are asked to think about what they want to achieve both personally and professionally, and then to create a plan for reaching those goals. A related program in Somalia develops and broadcasts primary education programs for grades 1 to 5 via FM and shortwave radio. It also provides teacher training and educational materials to community schools, and small-scale rehabilitation of educational centers.

Middle East

Promoting Youth Civic Engagement and Non-Traditional Actors (Yemen)

This project is a two‐year, $3.6 million effort designed to (1) strengthen the role of community actors in positively influencing Yemeni youth and (2) support the establishment and expansion of youth sports and recreational opportunities. The program will promote and facilitate positive relations between youth and moderate community leaders; renovate selected youth clubs; and support the expansion of youth sports and recreational programs, including training coaches and sports officials, equipment grants, and establishing sports leagues and formal competitions.

Youth: Work Jordan (Jordan)

$30 million community‐based five–year initiative that seeks to improve the life and job prospects of highly vulnerable youth. The goal is to improve and expand community based social services, with an overarching focus on promoting the employability and civic engagement of Jordan’s youth.

Middle East Youth Media Initiative (MEYMI) (Egypt)

USAID and Alkarma Edutainment, a leading Egyptian production firm, have teamed up with the region’s largest satellite broadcaster to produce a compelling and educational drama for the region’s 100 million young people.  “The University” is an Arabic young‐adult drama series, which follows a group of students at a university in the Arab region as they deal with the pressures of life, family, and school in a global society. The character profiles and story lines are based on intensive polling and focus group research with more than 3,500 young people across the region. The program was developed using a team of writers from across the region and consultants from the BBC and Hollywood.

The Palestinian Youth Empowerment Program (Ruwwad) (Palestine)

A 6 year $17.75 M program that builds the leadership capabilities of Palestinian youth by engaging them in four types of community service learning: civic engagement, economic opportunities, leadership skills, and sports and culture. Ruwwad also strengthens a network of Youth Development and Resource Centers (YDRCs) and affiliated clubs located throughout the West Bank and Gaza in order to prepare Palestinian youth for future leadership. The program has engaged more than 3,000 youth leaders and volunteers in leadership training and youth‐led community service projects, implemented more than 55 youth‐led community service projects, provided more than 120 paid internship opportunities in the YDRCs and other local organizations and trained more than 500 youth in information technology programs.

Latin America and the Caribbean

A Ganar (Regional)

Global development alliance that trains youth in market‐driven employment skills through sports‐based methodology. Complementary classroom activities equip youth with basic reading, writing, math, technical skills, and private sector internships. In FY 2010, a total of 690 youth from Jamaica, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines completed A Ganar training and 70% of graduates have either secured employment, returned to the formal education system or started their own business. The program has also successfully leveraged $1.84 million in counterpart funds during the first two years of implementation. In FY 2011, USAID approved a $7.5 million expansion of the program to deepen activities in the Caribbean, to expand the program to Central America, and to conduct an impact evaluation of the program. The Nike Foundation and the IDB also fund the program in 7 additional countries in the LAC region.

OAS Crime Prevention Program (Regional)

Provide innovative media partnerships for at‐risk youth in order to increase social, educational, and economic opportunities. In its first full year of implementation, Armando Paz has engaged 400 young people (100 each from Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua) in live forums to identify the principal challenges faced in each country and to present and pursue ideas to reduce violence. These forums have been well‐received and publicized through multiple media, including radio, Internet, and MTV, spreading the message of peace throughout the region.

Eastern Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (Regional)

This program focuses on providing youth (17‐24) in the region, particularly those‐at‐risk as a result of dropping out of school or not achieving the requisite school leaving certification, with training opportunities to enable them to become employable and contribute positively in the region. Assistance is provided across several areas of the youth development process including:  Training in life skills, technical and vocational skills, Numeracy and literacy support as needed for youth being trained, The strengthening of partnership between training institutions and the providers of labor including the private sector to ensure greater relevance in skills to match the demand of the market.

Enter Jovem Plus (Brazil)

It is crucial for Brazilian youth from disadvantaged communities to develop job skills so that they can avoid chronic unemployment. The USAID/Brazil youth employability program, known as Enter Jovem Plus, establishes partnerships with the private sector to offer training to young people aged 16 to 29. The program applies a training approach that combines digital inclusion and English, technical and communication skills, social and professional preparation, and proactive attitudes and ethical behavior. Through the partnerships with private companies, the Enter Jovem Plus Program seeks job openings and opportunities for the young people to participate in selection processes, and provides mentoring for young employees and their employers to build a long‐term relationship.

Major League Baseball-Dominican Development Alliance USAID Incentive Fund (Dominican Republic)

This unique alliance with Major League Baseball (MLB) improves the quality of life in Dominican communities by channeling donations for community development from MLB teams, players, and fans. The project focuses on education, health, youth development, life skills training for at‐risk youth and economic development activities.  In FY 2010 this project benefited 2,612 at‐risk youth by providing extracurricular activities focused on art and technical skills to reinforce academics outside of the school day.

Europe and Eurasia

Using the Development Credit Authority (DCA) to Support Young Entrepreneurs (Kosovo)

Banks are often reluctant to lend to young entrepreneurs because they lack credit history, have insufficient collateral, and have no history of profitability. USAID/Kosovo’s Young Entrepreneurs Program invested $246,000 through the Development Credit Authority (DCA) spurring a local bank to lend up to $2.1 million to Kosovar youth aged 18-35, fostering entrepreneurial opportunities and stimulating local economic growth and job creation. 

Youth Development Competencies Program (YDCP) (Russia)

The YDCP provides young people with an opportunity to contribute to their communities while developing the skills and abilities they need to become successful adults and engaged citizens.   Seeing youth as resources, YDCP engages the entire community in youth programs and policy.  Activities include recruiting innovative youth projects from across Russia, promoting the expansion of successful youth projects, facilitating peer-to-peer mentoring and collaboration between youth, promoting effective youth programming and policy in Russia.  Impact thus far includes: over 1000 young people trained and engaged in implementing community projects in 10 regions of Russia, over 150 community youth projects supported, over 20,000 people benefiting from YDCP project activities in Russia