In this second contribution to IYF’s learning series focused on Latin America, you will meet 22-year-old Cintia and 19-year-old Coco. These two young people from El Salvador grew up in a culture of violence but were able to overcome their difficult circumstances with the help of an IYF-supported life skills training and community service program.

Youth Building Peace: A Case Study from El Salvador shares best practices and lessons learned from an entra21 project that was implemented by Quetzalcóatl, an NGO dedicated to finding alternatives to violence in the city of San Salvador’s toughest neighborhoods. The small pilot project worked over a six-month period with a limited number of highly at-risk youth to increase their life and job skills and assist them in finding employment. Ninety percent of the 46 youth participating in the program were either former gang members or connected to local gangs.

This case study presents some of the key elements of the program’s methodology, including what program implementers learned about how to reach highly vulnerable youth immersed in a culture of violence, the types of partnerships needed to be successful, and the challenges such programs face in their efforts to help at-risk youth redirect their energies, aspirations and relationships in more positive directions.

Among the lessons identified in this report was the need to tap into young people’s values and abilities such as their sense of loyalty and commitment as a strategy to help them make the transition away from gang violence.

The Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank is a founding partner of entra21.

Read Youth Building Peace: A Case Study in English or Spanish.