Today I'm in Calgary, Canada, attending the Youth for Development, Development for Youth conference hosted by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Canadian International Development Agency, University of Calgary and Microsoft. You can watch the event live here.

 

"Youth Fund in Bolivia - the "Tuja Digital" program"

My primary reason for being here is to join IDB President Moreno in announcing the second phase of the Youth Fund initiative, bringing another $2.8 million (US) to organizations in Latin American and the Caribbean focused on youth empowerment.  I am proud to participate in the announcement, building on the success of the initial round of the Youth Fund, which ultimately benefitted 18 projects in 16 countries, reaching over 3,000 youth.  But what I really want to reflect on is the partnership we have built over the years with IDB. 

Our common focus on empowering youth was the starting point and serves as the foundation for much of our partnership activities.  IDB and Microsoft are also organizations that do things at significant scale, so the ability to bring our resources together for a regional program was of utmost importance.  We have a common focus on building local capacity in existing organizations, we don't create new organizations to implement programs and the Youth Fund reflects that.  This lead us to a model that was developed over the course of many meetings and conversations, ensuring that the objectives of both organizations are met and that we are very clear on the expected programs results.  In my opinion, it is this level of transparency that defines a successful partnership.     

The second phase of the Youth Fund is not only a significant expansion - we are hoping to double the number of grants - but it is also focused on a critical issue today; providing youth with the skills they need to get jobs and increase their economic opportunities.  As in other regions in the world, unemployment among young adults in Latin America and the Caribbean is far above the average across the broader population.  Many youth enter their working years without the skills needed to be successful in a job and these skills will be the differentiator for them.  We hope that the Youth Fund will continue to open new opportunities for thousands of individuals, positively impacting many more in their families and communities.

I'd also like to note a recent study published by the great team at the University of Washington Center for Technology and Social Change (TASCHA) that highlights the impact of technology skills training on at-risk youth and people with disabilities in five countries in Latin America.  The policy recommendations for greater involvement of employers and models for long-term support are spot on.  The report can be downloaded here