Microsoft chose to work with IYF in many countries because it is an effectively global and appropriately local organization.— Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Global Community Affairs, Microsoft Corporation

In April 1990, the International Youth Foundation was born with a mission to prepare the world's young people to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens. Central to achieving its vision on a global scale was IYF's intent to build—from the ground up—an international network of organizations working to ensure that youth anywhere on the globe could receive a quality education, learn the skills needed to get a job, and ultimately become engaged in their communities. With a staff of five, IYF embarked on a journey to locate its first partner.

In 1991, Ecuador became that first country in what would eventually evolve into a global network of national organizations. Many among the ranks of those earliest network members were institutions that IYF helped found, including those in Poland, Germany, and Ireland. It became apparent, by 1997, that a faster pace of growth was necessary in order for the network to drive sustainable change. It was at a meeting of the Board of Directors, along with early IYF supporters that year in Bellagio, Italy, that the decision was made to expand the network from then eight members to reach fifty over the course of the next few years. By partnering with carefully selected institutions, instead of founding new organizations, such growth would be possible.

Fast forward to 2010.

Today, with a staff of 100, IYF has now engaged 175 active partners in 78 countries. Through this network, IYF has mobilized US$163 million cumulative grant statistics as at December 31, 2009) in grants benefiting youth in all parts of the globe. True to its founding vision, IYF and its partners are focusing on building the core life skills of young people—sustaining programs with the greatest potential to help youth make healthy decisions, earn a livelihood, and become active members of society. As a result, IYF is a growing force for change—what was once a dream is a growing reality. Read more about the IYF Global Partner Network.

What lies ahead?

In October 2010, the IYF Global Partner Network will convene in Washington, DC. While offering an opportunity for the group to reflect upon and celebrate its achievements, this meeting will more importantly focus on the work that remains to be done—how best to leverage the lessons from the past two decades to shape new efforts and investments in the years ahead. And so the IYF journey continues.