The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded  the International Youth Foundation (IYF) an additional US$ 2.5 million to support Phase II of its Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP), which has demonstrated steady progress and strong results in its youth employability programs in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St. Lucia. Launched in 2008, CYEP equips vulnerable youth with the technical, vocational and life skills needed to develop sustainable livelihoods. The new funding, which doubles the original grant, will enable the program to scale up its activities in all three countries by expanding its network of partners and its menu of services. As a result, an additional 1,100 at risk youth will benefit.

“Through this new two-year grant, USAID is not only demonstrating its ongoing commitment to help more Caribbean youth join the workforce or start their own businesses,” said Bill. Reese, IYF President and CEO. “They are also confirming that we’re on the right track in terms of the effectiveness and impact of these programs to expand opportunities for vulnerable youth.”

The goal of Phase II is to provide greater access to the job market and opportunities to start viable micro-enterprises to youth, ages 17 to 25, who have dropped out of school, are unemployed, or underemployed. Among the objectives of the program are to ensure: at least 40 percent of those who complete the training are placed in decent jobs or start their own businesses; half of the participants who have left school are re-enrolled in an educational training programs or have gained additional schooling credentials; and 90 percent of employers report satisfaction with their entry-level employees. This renewal brings the total number of beneficiaries of the program to 2,200 youth.

Through CYEP, IYF will continue to provide short and effective job training, career counseling, remedial education, community engagement opportunities, and entrepreneurship and placement services. Recognizing that stronger local organizations will contribute to a stronger youth workforce, IYF will also provide capacity building support to an expanded network of local organizations working on CYEP initiatives.

CYEP is a project of Youth:Work, a five-year, USAID-funded global initiative that enables USAID bureaus and missions to easily access IYF’s proven youth employability programs, services, and expertise.