Photo by Eyoel Kahssay on Unsplash

As International Youth Day draws near, IYF is excited to announce our cadre of Global Youth Resiliency Fund (GYRF) awardees—28 young leaders, hailing from 15 countries, working across six areas of impact.

Designed to put funds swiftly in the hands of young change makers, the GYRF is founded on the belief that young people can, will, and must play a pivotal role in responding to the Covid crisis and rebuilding their communities—and the world. Thanks to generous donations from partners including the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Burberry, each awardee will receive $10,000 in funding to support their critical work. 

“All through the pandemic, young people have been stepping up to tackle unprecedented challenges and respond to urgent needs,” said IYF’s President & CEO Susan Reichle. “In fact, they were the impetus behind the creation of the Global Youth Resiliency Fund. The 28 grantees selected to receive funding are truly impressive—they illustrate exactly what ‘youth-led impact’ means and how young people are making huge contributions in their own communities and beyond. Their work is critical—not only to post-Covid recovery efforts, but also to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

One awardee, Dysmus Kisilu, is working to transform food systems in his home country, Kenya. Food insecurity is a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa, and it’s an issue that touches myriad impact areas including health, environment, and economic empowerment. Solar Freeze, the organization he founded, “is pioneering potable cold storage units powered by solar energy for rural smallholder farmers of perishable produce. … This innovation," Dysmus explained, "extends the freshness of fruits, vegetables, and other perishable food from two days to more than 40 days.”

"Young people can contribute by getting their hands in the soil, by doing things like planting trees and ensuring that they consume sustainably produced food. They have the power in their hands to change the way food is produced and consumed."

The theme of International Youth Day 2021 is Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health. While there's a lot of hard work to be done, Dysmus is hopeful. “The future of transforming food systems is pegged on what the youth do in the agriculture sector," he said. "I believe with innovation, especially with regards to the productive use of assets that are climate smart (such as solar cold storage and solar irrigation kits) the developing world will be food secure.”

There are other ways that young people, in their daily lives, can contribute towards human and planetary health. “Young people can contribute by getting their hands in the soil," Dysmus said, "by doing things like planting trees and ensuring that they consume sustainably produced food. They have the power in their hands to change the way food is produced and consumed.”

Other resiliency fund awardees are working in these areas: education, health (including mental health and sport for development), economic empowerment, environment, social Inclusion, and civic engagement.

Learn more about each awardee, their organizations, and how the Global Youth Resiliency Fund will help advance the amazing work they're doing to create a better future for us all.