Imagine a global network of youth leadership programs dedicated to equipping emerging social entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to dramatically increase the impact of their social change work. And what if that network enabled young leaders to collaborate with their peers—locally and internationally—like never before? The YouthActionNet® Global Network is now a reality thanks to the vision and commitment of Laureate Education, Inc., a global leader in making quality higher education accessible and affordable so that more students can pursue their dreams.

In 2005, the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation began supporting the expansion of IYF’s YouthActionNet initiative, a leadership development program that strengthens the skills and impact of young social innovators. As the result of a strategic partnership designed to offer national YouthActionNet® programs throughout the Laureate International Universities network, a pilot program was introduced in Mexico by the Universidad del Valle de México. Since then, similar programs have been launched at other Laureate institutions, including the Universidad Anhembi Morumbi (Brazil), Universidad Andrés Bello (Chile), Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (Peru), Universidad Europea de Madrid (Spain), and Istanbul Bilgi University (Turkey), which have collectively recognized and supported 175 young social entrepreneurs to date.Through a Commitment to Action announced at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative, Laureate pledged to fully fund the YouthActionNet global program and launch 13 YouthActionNet national programs at Laureate institutions in partnership with IYF by 2014.

Deeply rooted in the context where they operate, national YouthActionNet® programs select youth leaders to participate in an intensive training experience that can include a 10-12 month-long fellowship, small grants, networking opportunities, technical support, and mentoring. Young leaders also benefit from public recognition and advocacy opportunities.

One of the young leaders to participate in the Brazil program—26-year-old Cecília Mendes Barros—empowers disadvantaged youth in São Paulo to rehabilitate historic buildings. Through the fellowship she received at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi, Cecília took part in a four-month course led by professors and local experts and received a grant to support her social change work. Cecília is one of more than 420 young leaders around the globe to benefit from the support of YouthActionNet.

For Laureate, investing in today’s young leaders isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s a smart way of leveraging the creative ideas and passion of today’s youth to achieve far greater impact.