The International Youth Foundation (IYF), in partnership with the  US Agency for International Development (USAID), announced Wednesday a new four-year initiative to improve the employment, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement opportunities for Palestinian youth.

The launch was attended by Secretary General of the Palestinian Authority Government Cabinet Dr. Naim Abu Hommos, representing Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad; American Consul General Daniel Rubinstein; USAID Mission Director Michael Harvey; and the President & CEO of the International Youth Foundation, Bill Reese. The new initiative will benefit up to 10,000 Palestinian youth through training and work opportunities.

Youth Entrepreneurship Development, which supports President Obama’s vision of promoting economic development and opportunity, as outlined in his speech in Cairo in 2009, as well as the goals of the 2011- 2013 Palestinian National Youth Strategy, will help young people ages 14 to 29 gain the appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to secure jobs or to start their own businesses. Partnering with relevant Palestinian institutions, the program will develop and implement high quality, results-oriented and sustainable livelihood initiatives. The program will also award short-term grants to Palestinian organizations to implement innovative youth employability and entrepreneurship programs within the next several weeks.

“Through Youth Entrepreneurship Development, our long-term goal is to inspire and equip young Palestinian men and women to follow in the footsteps of Palestinian men and women entrepreneurs, becoming agents of positive change through their involvement in civil society, economic development, and their communities.” said Consul General Rubinstein.

“Young people across this region are expressing their deepest desires for greater economic opportunity. We are pleased to be working with local organizations and businesses here to address the staggering employment needs of Palestinian youth—more than a third of whom can’t find work,” said Bill Reese.

“USAID is proud to support this program to help Palestinian young people to set the direction of their working careers. USAID funds several initiatives that support youth development and improve the quality of their education. Our goal is to provide young people with the tools they need to play positive and constructive roles within Palestinian society,” said Michael Harvey, USAID Mission Director.

Of the youth expected to benefit from the $15 million initiative, some 1,000 will participate in community service training, with 80 youth-led community initiatives benefitting; 600 will complete meaningful internships; and 500 young entrepreneurs will acquire the necessary skills to be successful.