As the International Youth Foundation (IYF) kicks off its 20th anniversary this year, we are pleased to announce new programs that expand our youth development portfolio in Latin America and India.  “It seems appropriate that we begin to celebrate this historic milestone by announcing the launch of key initiatives that are benefiting youth around the world,” said William S. Reese, IYF’s President and CEO. “We’re very proud of our track record over the past two decades of expanding opportunities for young people in some 70 countries worldwide.”

One new IYF program is Obra, a USAID-supported initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean aimed at forming multi-sector alliances to raise awareness of youth issues, mobilize resources, and advance young people’s education and employment prospects.  

A two-year $2 million initiative, Obra (“work” in Spanish) is the fourth award made under Youth:Work, IYF’s global youth employability initiative with USAID.  Among the program’s objectives: to better prepare and productively engage 1,000 vulnerable youth through improved educational opportunities, skills training, and job placement services.

IYF has also initiated a new program in India to support that country’s efforts to address the growing job skills deficit among disadvantaged Indian youth ages 15 to 29.  Working with the government as well as key partner NGOs, the Skills for Youth (SkY) initiative continues IYF’s work in India in close cooperation with QUEST Alliance. The program will bring together key stakeholders to identify challenges, build consensus on reform priorities, demonstrate effective program models, and share knowledge and research around best practices. The two-year $800,000 program in India, which will be implemented in collaboration with Education Development Center (EDC), is part of a broader USAID-funded initiative to improve the relevance and effectiveness of a number of current government programs.

Also expanding its reach is the Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP), which will now include youth in St. Lucia and Dominica. The additional $1 million from USAID, in addition to the original $1.5 million, will increase the number of youth beneficiaries from 700 to 1,100 – and expand the duration of the program through September 2011. CYEP, which is part of the IYF Youth:Work initiative,  currently delivers job training programs to young people in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Jamaica.  As part of its long-term commitment to identify best practices in the field, CYEP held a workshop in Kingston, Jamaica in late 2009 that brought together partner organizations and experts in youth employment for a three-day orientation and learning exchange. Says Petula Nash, program director at IYF, “We are placing a significant emphasis on sharing best practices across all our CYEP projects so that as we expand, we continue to invest in what works.”