Making the case for investing in youth is something I do every day. Few would disagree that young people are to be valued and supported in their journey to a productive adulthood. Yet too often statistics, policy priorities, and media headlines communicate a far different reality. Changing this reality—and telling a new story of the world’s youth—has been at the heart of the International Youth Foundation’s (IYF’s) work for 25 years.
Our dominant narrative is one of possibility. Far from viewing young people as problems to be solved, we value youth as potent allies and problem solvers. IYF was founded on the premise that much has been learned about ‘what works’ in addressing young people’s needs. Our job is to increase the effectiveness, scale, and sustainability of these proven approaches.
IYF CEO Bill Reese with 2014 Laureate Global Fellows Peggy Mativo, Cherrie Atilano, and Daniel Uribe
More than 17 million young people have benefited from IYF’s work around the world—so far. But numbers tell only part of the story. Through building an expansive community of partners—local civil society organizations, global companies, government, philanthropic donors, and foreign aid bi- and multi-lateral agencies—our efforts to prepare young people to be healthy, productive, engaged citizens have produced a profound ripple effect that expands year after year.
Below is the story of how IYF has changed lives, shifted attitudes, and influenced systems because—stated simply—youth matter.
IYF at 25: A Timeline
[Our partnership with IYF] is engaging employees and leadership in a meaningful way and providing a great service to unemployed youth in giving them the tools they need to find success. That is a powerful combination that we are very proud to be a part of.
With the International Youth Foundation, we’ve found a partner with whom we can have frank dialogue about needs, challenges, and opportunities. This communication and understanding—vital to a successful partnership—allow us to more effectively address the complex issue of youth unemployment.
We believe building partnerships between the public and private sector, civil society, as well as leveraging the know-how of international organizations such as IYF, can help jobseekers access economic opportunities and better prepare them for the job market.
IYF Programs not only expand employment opportunities for youth, they also contribute to the growth of our business and industry as a whole.
Changing Young Lives
Life skills training empowers youth at home, at work, and in their communities. How do you encourage a young person who has grown up in challenging circumstances to be confident and to pursue new opportunities in an environment that too often reinforces low expectations? IYF’s signature Passport to Success® life skills program has transformed how young people in 30+ countries view themselves and their ability to achieve brighter futures.
YouthActionNet’s Journeys of Social Change yearbook highlights the movement of youth to the forefront of social change with stories of creative problem solving.
We’re passionate in our belief in youth as problem-solvers and leaders.
IYF’s YouthActionNet® initiative has created one of the world’s largest networks of young social entrepreneurs. The more than 1,200 young founders/CEOs in 90 countries that we have supported are pioneering solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges.
Building Effective Partnerships
It’s possible to achieve far more together than alone. That’s why we’ve spent 25 years partnering with leading global companies, governments, international aid agencies, and foundations. And on-the-ground, we always work with locally-rooted national organizations.
New Employment Opportunities (NEO): This multi-stakeholder alliance brings together the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank and major employers including Caterpillar, CEMEX, Microsoft, and Walmart. We’re on track to provide job training and placement services to one million youth in the Americas.
Zimbabwe:Works: We’ve brought together partners unaccustomed to working together: USAID, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Embassy of Sweden (Sida). As a result, more than 22,000 young people—particularly young women—will benefit from technical and entrepreneurship training.
Hilton-IYF Partnership: This long-standing partnership is an example of how our work with dozens of global companies has advanced both business and social goals. Using our Passport to Success life skills training in its properties around the world, Hilton is one of a growing number of companies that have come to IYF for turnkey solutions to their training needs.
We’ve influenced the World Bank’s youth employment agenda, including helping to design and lead a new multi-stakeholder alliance—Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE). This coalition launched in 2014 is committed to providing job opportunities for 150 million young people around the world by 2030.
The groundbreaking Global Youth Wellbeing Index, created in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Hilton Worldwide, informs and guides smart investments and effective policies.
Through a global network of 21 youth leadership institutes, YouthActionNet® has galvanized a growing community of public, private, and civil sector leaders in support of youth-led social change.
Below are four IYF resources that capture youth needs and opportunities.
Strengthening Local Self-Reliance
IYF works hand-in-hand with local partners to develop effective, sustainable, and scalable solutions for youth. Our legacy includes building the capacity of hundreds of youth-serving organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies to better meet youth needs. Making services “youth-friendly” is critical to our approach.
In doing so, we’ve produced an array of readily adaptable tools, curricula, and resources. Such tools are helping to assess youth and employer needs, train young people and practitioners in essential skills, and connect underserved youth to jobs.
These recent publications offer a snapshot of the scope and depth of understanding that IYF offers youth development practitioners.