Digital Development



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As seen at the Microsoft Global Nonprofit Leaders Summit!


Recognizing that young people live, work, learn, and play in an increasingly digital world, IYF invests in the development of leading-edge digital programming to meet today’s young people where they are—and to help them get where they want to go.

Principles to keep young people at the center of our work

We view technology as a powerful tool for reaching more young people, facilitating collaboration, and increasing impact. When we use technology in our programs, we start with our intended goals and the challenges we face. Our digital interventions exist to bolster our cause and overcome the barriers. We are guided by the nine Principles of Digital Development and are particularly focused on three:

  • Designing with the user. We incorporate youth perspectives with focus groups, user testing, social media polling, and iterative designs so that our offerings align with the real needs and wants of young people.
  • Being data-driven. We run A/B experiments to see what works, dive deep into our online engagement figures to understand what resonates, and draw on our Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning expertise—moving beyond impressions to impact.
  • Addressing privacy & security. We collect as little personally identifiable information (PII) as possible, use only vetted secure technology platforms, and communicate to youth when and how their data is being used.

Building on 10+ years’ experience to enhance digital programming

At the core of IYF’s digital work is our online training and eLearning offerings. Notably, IYF delivers our Passport to Success life skills program to learners over video conference platforms and with chat apps like WhatsApp. In both cases, program content is deliberately tailored for each specific experience. In addition, our Learning Management System, Atlas, helps prepare instructors while our Virtual Workbook gives learners a digital home for their notes and assignments.

Digital Skilling

Digital expertise that extends beyond eLearning for maximum impact

  • Behavior Change Communication. IYF and its partners employ diverse communication technologies as a way to deliver information and encouragement effectively. Depending on the audience, a program might include text messaging, WhatsApp, automated voice calls, or radio communication. IYF experts design and deploy tailored communication strategies that engage youth and then test the delivery mechanisms, content, and frequency that work best. Ultimately this work encourages positive behaviors like community participation, skill development, and job seeking. They operate as both stand-alone campaigns and as a way to drive youth to IYF’s broader eLearning programs.
  • Digital Skilling. IYF prepares youth globally for careers across many sectors, including the IT sector -- pairing trainings on discrete technology skills with critical life skills that are also needed for professional success. Notably, IYF coordinates the training of young people on Google, Microsoft, and Cisco content in Mexico, Colombia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Panama. IYF also led work with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation focused on strengthening the digital skills approach within South Africa’s national higher education system.
  • Data Analysis Services. IYF collaborates closely with partners in the education and non-profit sectors who are eager to introduce more data into their priorities and decision-making to ensure that their resources are having the greatest impact possible. We draw on our expertise in data collection, analysis, and visualization, helping partners draw insight from their existing data, set priorities, and visualize progress to a broader audience.
  • Youth-centric Design for Digital Products. Digital products of all kinds—from websites to training programs to mobile money services programs—must reflect the needs and interests of the users. IYF assists partners to design their products not only with youth in mind, but also with youth input and participation during product development. We always put young people at the center, and we help our partners to do so, too.
  • Community Building Platforms. IYF engages with young people on their terms and in spaces, physical or virtual, where they already live. This means that IYF builds and supports youth to build constructive digital environments on WhatsApp and social media platforms for peer-to-peer learning, social activism, and skill development. IYF also works with youth to understand the power and pitfalls of these platforms.

Award-winning digital life skills courses meet youth where they are

  • PTS Traveler is IYF’s free, online, game-based life skills course. Together with our partners at the PepsiCo Foundation, we adapted Traveler from over 45 hours of in-person PTS lessons, drawing on tests with more than 1,000 young people across eight countries. The course takes young people on a virtual tour of the world—and the job market. While learning in-demand life skills, they can explore jobs in growth industries. To meet young people where they are, Traveler was developed for easy use on smartphones and was built to be “gender smart,” taking into consideration and meeting the different needs of different genders.
  • PTS Concierge is IYF’s free, highly interactive, online life skills course tailored to the hospitality and tourism industry. PTS-C supports young people to gain the skills needed to be successful in this critical industry that historically accounts for 25 percent of all net jobs in the world and is predicted to create 80 million new jobs in the next decade. Developed with support from the Hilton Effect Foundation, the course advances IYF and Hilton’s previous work that has had a significant impact on the retention, performance, and promotion rates of youth in related programs.

Intentional design to mitigate technology risks and inequalities

We recognize that technology can and has caused tremendous harm to young people around the world. Given the rapidly changing technology landscape, few people of any age are equipped with the tools needed to navigate the world in which we live. Our digital work and our programs deliberately address this with discussions and trainings on the role of social media, artificial intelligence, misinformation, and algorithmic biases in the professional and personal lives of young people. Technology can also exacerbate inequality by providing greater access to training to those with greater access to advanced hardware and internet. For that reason, IYF’s digital offerings leverage technologies that are broadly accessible in a particular community. Sometimes that means mobile-first websites, other times text messaging, radio, or WhatsApp.

Technology that empowers, enables, and elevates

Just as IYF recognizes investments in young people as investments in our collective future, our digital work is also forward-looking. We know that being a good partner, neighbor, and citizen extends into our digital lives, so we empower youth with the skills they need to excel online, understand the (mis)information they encounter, achieve gainful employment, and advocate for themselves.

We also see educators and instructors as the superheroes they are. As a result, we are providing them the superpowers they deserve—digital tools to train more effectively, manage classrooms more efficiently, and engage with youth more deeply. 

As technology becomes further integrated into the education and employment of young people, IYF will work alongside them, leveraging technology to transform their lives. 

Our Digital Development Capacity Statement

Digital Assets



Blog Posts


To discuss Digital Development at IYF or to inquire about Digital partnerships, please contact Eric Couper, Digital Development Director.