Generating, Testing, and Scaling Innovative Solutions to Global Youth Employment

RTI International
The magnitude of the global youth unemployment challenge is enormous. Few dispute that the field is desperate for innovation. But how do we generate, test, and scale good ideas?
The RTI International-led Global Center for Youth Employment (GCYE), in partnership with the Ford Foundation, hosted a two day Ideathon on June 15th and 16th to co-design and invest in innovative collective impact solutions to the global youth employment challenge. The Ideathon was held at 1776, a start-up incubator in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard and drew a diverse crowd of youth, NGO, private sector, and academic leaders.
Call For Ideas                                               
From an open competition that saw 200 on-line submissions from 25 countries, 16 ideas were selected by a panel of GCYE members and invited to “pitch” at the Ideathon. After a round of voting from event participants, five ideas were selected to receive funding from a pool of $250,000 and to work in partnership with Center members to support, test and evaluate ideas.
  • Lynk, a digital platform to promote job security, fair wages, a safe work environment, and the opportunity for career growth in Kenya’s informal economy;
  • Harambee’s model to aggregate information across South Africa’s labor market to more efficiently match youth to the labor market;
  • Ten Youth Mentoring, an affordable online tool to accelerate the adoption of high impact mentoring for young workers;
  • GRID’s JobSensei, a mobile game to educate and empower youth to hunt for jobs; and
Youth Engagement
The GCYE partnered with Restless Development, a NGO dedicated to advocating for and supporting youth engagement, to implement a leading edge youth engagement approach at the Ideathon. With the help of this GCYE member, youth from Atlas Corp and the MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Think Tank, youth were engaged at every step of the process – from selection of the ideas to providing guidance on the development of the solutions.
Collective Impact
The power of GCYE is the collective knowledge of its members. In this spirit of collaboration, members formed "idea teams" at the Ideathon to deliberate, shape , and design growth strategies to best translate the five selected ideas to scaled impact. The Ideathon concluded with a final pitch of the adapted ideas to a panel of judges, including foundation representatives, business entrepreneurs, and NGO leaders, who gave their feedback on the growth plans. Next steps include the continuation of collaboration among Center members to further develop the ideas and their implementation road maps. The Center provides a range of financial and non-financial (coaching, mentorship, targeted consulting) resources to the ideas it supports.
The Global Center for Youth Employment, created and managed by RTI International, is a virtual learning and action incubator that brings together a broad, diverse coalition of allies to identify and nurture innovative youth employment solutions. The Center consists of over 50 members, including Accenture, LinkedIn, JPAL, World Vision, Plan Intl, Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee, and other NGOs, private sector partners, and academic researchers.
Written by Eric Johnson