Letter from Making Cents International

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to share with you our 5th Anniversary State of the Field in Youth Economic Opportunities publication. This publication is a synthesis of the lessons learned, promising practices, and recommended next steps that more than 400 leaders from 50 countries examined at Making Cents International’s 5th Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference. The conference took place at the National Convention Center in Washington, DC September 7-9, 2011. Practitioners, policymakers, funders, educators, youth, private sector actors, and researchers discussed Breakthroughs in understanding and innovation that are achieving impact, scale and/or sustainability.

We chose the theme Breakthroughs to recognize that as a community of people and organizations working to increase and improve economic opportunities with and for 1.8 billion young people, we must be thinking and acting innovatively. While we have more to learn, our field has already learned a great deal and there’s no time (or resources) to waste on re-learning lessons or re-inventing tools that our colleagues have already created and tested, and are willing to share with us. Arguably, knowledge exchange and partnership building has never been as important as it is now.

The 2011 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference occurred during the Arab Spring, which brought global attention to the challenges and opportunities of millions of young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The employment challenges youth are facing in the MENA region are tremendous, and many organizations shared at the conference the approaches they are taking to cultivate new and additional job prospects for youth while encouraging entrepreneurship as a viable career path. They shared their experiences and ideas, alongside those from other regions, through the following learning tracks:

  • Youth Enterprise Development
  • Workforce Development
  • Youth-Inclusive Financial Services and Financial Capabilities
  • Adolescent Girls and Young Women
  • Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment

The demand-driven learning agenda enabled conference participants to challenge each other, assess current practice, and contemplate how to fill gaps in order to reach more breakthroughs and to reverse global youth unemployment trends over the long-term.

I would like to take this opportunity to express Making Cents’ sincere appreciation to all of the conference sponsors, Global Advisory Committee Members, presenters, exhibitors, advertisers, and participants who committed their time and expertise to the learning program. In particular, I would like to recognize RTI International, the conference’s lead sponsor of the Workforce Development learning track and chapter of this publication.

This publication builds upon the information that was shared via Making Cents’ 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 State of the Field publications, which can be downloaded here. These publications have been downloaded more than 4,000 times in over 200 countries to date, which shows the high demand for this information globally. Making Cents is interested in hearing how the conference and its resulting publication have made an impact on you and the work you’re doing; please let us know via [email protected].

Let’s continue to learn and move the youth economic opportunities field forward. I’d like to invite you to the 6th Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference, which will take place at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Conference Center in Washington, DC September 11-13, 2012. We greatly appreciate the IDB’s partnership in this endeavor. Whether you are a seasoned expert or new to the youth economic opportunities field, you can expect to gain enhanced technical capacity, new partnerships, and access to funding opportunities. For more information, please visit: www.YEOconference.org. We look forward to you joining us, and playing an active role in building the evidence base of proven approaches that have the potential to achieve scale in a sustainable way.


Fiona Macaulay

Founder and CEO, Making Cents International
[email protected]
Skype: fmacaulay