IYF Partner Universidad Latina Convenes Nationwide Conference

More than 300 youth and invited guests convened on the campus of Universidad Latina and Centro Miravalles in Costa Rica on May 17 and18 for the Youth Social Impact Forum, the nation’s first ever conference devoted to advancing the role of youth in leading social change.

In 2012, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) partnered with Universidad Latina and Laureate Education, Inc., to launch Premio Yo Creo (I Create Award) to identify and support the nation’s young social entrepreneurs. The program, a part of IYF’s YouthActionNet® global network, has since led efforts to raise the profile of and connect accomplished young leaders to each other and supporting institutions.

“Our goal through the event was to form a community where all interested parties could interact and create synergies for supporting youth-led social change in Costa Rica, and ultimately in the region,” said Premio Yo Creo Program Director Lourdes Brizuela, who praised the Premio Yo Creo Fellows for their role in helping to organize and execute the Forum.

YouthActionNet Fellow and IYF Board Member Dina Buchbinder served as a keynote speaker at the event. Ms. Buchbinder co-founded Deport-es para Compartir (Sports for Sharing), an educational program that teaches children in Mexico to fully develop their citizenship skills through participatory games and sporting activities. “The key is to find your element,” said Ms. Buchbinder, who encouraged attendees to get involved in addressing issues facing their communities.

A panel discussion held on day one of the event featured representatives from the private and public sectors and youth leaders, who engaged an audience of over 200 in discussing the role of youth in social change. Dr. Miguel Gutiérrez, Director of the State of the Nation initiative, provided the context for how social entrepreneurship fits within the nation’s larger development vision.

On day two of the conference, more than 160 attendees broke into groups according to their area of interest (e.g., minority rights, education, the environment, civic engagement) with the goal of sharing strategies and building synergies. The event concluded with a ‘social fair,’ during which youth had the opportunity to showcase their social change activities and invite others to get involved as volunteers, donors, and supporters.

The forum is the first in a series of events that Universidad Latina, which is part of the Laureate International Universities network, plans to host in various locations throughout Costa Rica.