With a focus on addressing challenges in some of Mexico’s most violent and crime-ridden communities, a new program of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) will benefit highly vulnerable youth by strengthening and expanding after school and summer programs, creating safe spaces for them to meet, and preparing them for viable futures through jobs and/or entrepreneurship.
The goal of the program is to ensure at-risk youth have opportunities to stay in school, access the job market, and gain the life skills they need to be productive members of society by leveraging private sector resources and boosting community involvement. It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of youth ages 15 to19 do not attend school in Ciudad Juarez, while Tijuana acts as a hub for drug and weapon trafficking. Over 15,000 people have died due to drug related violence in Mexico since January 2007, with much of th at violence taking place along the US/Mexico border.
Youth:Work Mexico, with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to reach a minimum of 5,000 vulnerable youth, ages 6 to 28, with age appropriate after-school activities and skills training for jobs and self employment.
“These are very tough communities where young people feel they have few alternatives other than joining a gang or becoming engaged in criminal activities,” said Bill Reese, President and CEO of the IYF. “This program will give them a chance to choose a more positive path by staying in school, getting a job or starting their own businesses.”
Youth:Work Mexico is supported through IYF’s global Youth:Work initiative, which helps USAID bureaus and missions to easily access IYF’s proven youth employability programs, services, and expertise. Funded by USAID, Youth:Work’s job and entrepreneurship training programs are also benefiting vulnerable youth in Jordan, the Caribbean, and Latin America.