Chapter 14: Associations in Support of Youth Economic Opportunity

Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD)

The Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD) (http://aiyd.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/hello-world/) is a community of practice and an advocacy force consisting of 24 leading U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations, consulting firms, foundations, and private sector institutions working in the field of international youth development. The Alliance provides an opportunity for engaged organizations and individuals to share and discuss effective practices, and to advocate for and inform policies that support and affect youth. The Youth Alliance calls for international donors, including the United States Government, to make informed and targeted investments to support young people worldwide.

Accordingly, members of the Alliance for International Youth Development urge the international donor community, global businesses, and governments around the world to act in partnership, and to implement the following actions over the next ten years:

  1. Significantly increase investment in programs that support youths’ ability to have productive livelihoods, engage in civil society, and make responsible decisions for themselves and their families;
  2. Work together with a goal to create 500 million new jobs and livelihood opportunities to engage young people in new industries and social enterprises that can help transform the planet, such as new forms of agriculture, water usage, alternative energy, communications, and transportation;
  3. Increase the opportunities for youth in all countries to have access to financial services, new technologies and relevant training that enables them to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities, to launch their own businesses and, in effect create their own jobs;
  4. Multiply the opportunities for youth to engage in organized community service within their own countries and with their peers across the globe to contribute to positive social change while building essential skills;
  5. Establish alternative education programs in every country that enable youth who have dropped out of school (or have not had access to formal schooling) to gain certified competencies in literacy, numeracy, life, and work readiness skills;
  6. Enable youth to have greater access to adolescent and reproductive health services and to family life counseling and guidance services;
  7. Establish leadership training programs that enable young people to begin leading now in their communities and become more effective leaders of tomorrow in their countries.

In 2011, AIYD has served as the civil society convener for interface with the U.S. Government on the development of USAID’s new Policy for Youth in Development and has offered the agency feedback and recommendations on behalf of its members. AIYD is also engaged with key staff at the State Department’s Youth Office and World Bank to explore possible areas of partnership. In addition, initiatives have been launched for compiling member “effective practices” and for shaping a process, through consultations and working groups, toward identifying a set of minimum standards for youth development programs.

To support and advance its mission, the Alliance has developed a strategic partnership with InterAction, the largest coalition of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations working to focus U.S. development and humanitarian assistance on improving the conditions of the world’s poor and most vulnerable.

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI)

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) (http://childfinanceinternational.org) is an international network of government representatives, financial services providers, NGOs, private sector companies, academics and educators who are committed to advancing the common goals and objectives of the global ChildFinance Movement. While there are many initiatives which already exist doing great work in the different areas of financial access and education for young people, CYFI believes there needs to be an effort to coordinate this work through a holistic approach from the local to the global level. Unified, collaborative efforts will be much more impactful than scattered, individualist efforts. Therefore, CYFI aims to initiate, leverage and coordinate a global multi-stakeholder Movement that addresses the economic challenges facing young people, ultimately building a global consensus on the multifaceted, culturally sensitive approach to the provision of Child Friendly banking services and financial, social and livelihoods education for children and youth in all countries of the world.

While the CYFI Secretariat is based in the Netherlands, the CYFI network includes hundreds of partners from countries all over the world. The CYFI network aims to ensure that 100 million children and youth have access to appropriate and low cost financial products by 2015. These ambitious targets will require members of the ChildFinance Movement to collaborate openly on the sharing of learning resources, research initiatives, impact assessment tools, best practices in program and product design and efforts to promote policy and systems changes that allow children and youth to better meet their financial and educational needs.

In practical terms, CYFI members have collaborated through physical meetings and online forums on the drafting of the Theory of Change and the strategic direction of the ChildFinance Movement. Members of the CYFI Inclusion working group have used interactive forums to set the minimum standards and process requirements for the ChildFriendly Banking Certification. Members of the CYFI Education working group have collaborated extensively on the content of the ChildFinance Learning Framework and accompanying Education Kit for NGOs interested in designing financial, social or livelihoods educational programming for children and youth in different regional, cultural or demographical contexts. Members of the CYFI Academics working group have been collaborating on the setting of impact indicators for the ChildFinance Movement along with a report on the state of financial literacy and inclusion programs for children and youth worldwide.

CYFI is also working with government representatives to support the development of national platforms for financial inclusion and educational programming for children and youth in the country. CYFI members have the opportunity to collaborate openly through these national platforms as the execution of this framework in country will involve a coordinated effort to engage representatives from relevant government ministries (e.g., Finance, Education, etc.), financial service providers/regulators/associations, private sector corporations, civil society organizations, teachers associations and academic institutions. The coordination of nationwide ChildFinance Day events, linked with events happening in other countries in the CYFI network, provide a tangible example of how governments, NGOs, financial institutions and media outlets can work together to promote the issue of financial inclusion and skill development for children and youth at both the local, national and global level.

Coalition for Adolescent Girls (CAG)

The Coalition for Adolescent Girls (the Coalition) (www.coalitionforadolescentgirls.org) brings together 39 international organizations that design, implement and evaluate programs that benefit adolescent girls throughout the developing world who are trapped in cycles of poverty. When adolescent girls are educated, healthy and financially literate, they can create lasting change within communities and end generations of poverty. Coalition members seek to influence standards of practice across diverse sectors of programming in development and humanitarian contexts in order to ensure that the needs of adolescent girls are met.

The Coalition provides a unique platform for organizations to:

  • Share information, tools, and resources;
  • Discover points of intersection and opportunities for collaboration;
  • Build technical capacity and strategize on best practices;
  • Raise a collective call to action to key decision-makers influencing the lives of girls around the world.

In addition to quarterly membership meetings, members also come together around common goals and interests in self-designed working groups to move the field of adolescent girl work forward. These working groups vary in scope and purpose, and include:

  • Advocacy, Messaging and Education Working Group
  • Engaging Adolescent Girls Working Group
  • Measuring Success Working Group
  • Technical Tools and Resources Working Group

The collective power of the Coalition has helped to drive change in the international development field, elevating the profile of a population that was historically ignored, and influencing programming, policies, and investments to better support adolescent girls.

In 2011 the Coalition fostered a community among adolescent girl champions and experts, deepened the adolescent girl knowledge base and raised a call to action to improve policy, programming, and funding benefiting adolescent girls through the following efforts:

  • Launched Girls Grow: A Vital Force in Rural Economies by Catherine Bertini and the Chicago Council, the fifth report in the Girls Count series. In continuing to build the evidence base on adolescent girls, this report highlights the potential of adolescent girls to grow their local economies and transform their homes, communities, and countries.
  • Convened an expert consultation on adolescent girls in emergency response settings to explore how to shift the emergency response paradigm to better meet the needs of adolescent girls. This convening brought together a strategic group of researchers, program implementers and funders to discuss the current issues that adolescent girls face in emergency response and humanitarian settings across the globe.
  • Convened coalition members engaged in humanitarian efforts responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa along with key representatives from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at USAID and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the State Department to discuss impact of the crisis on adolescent girls and coordinate response efforts.
  • Convened a listening session with the Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning at USAID to submit recommendations highlighting adolescent girls for the Global Youth in Development Policy.

As an active member of the aforementioned associations, Making Cents encourages readers to become engaged in them as we collectively seek new and more effective ways to support young people around the world. These associations serve as engines of progress in our field, challenging us to raise the bar and find new breakthroughs that we cannot achieve alone.