For more than 30 years, IYF has connected the public and private sectors to powerhouse local partners to inspire, equip, and support young people in more than 100 countries.
What’s been the impact?
Young people touched by IYF’s vast network of local partners have secured decent employment in fields ranging from hospitality to mechanical engineering, launched or grown entrepreneurial endeavors, led transformative change in their communities, and risen to meet the challenges of our time. I’ve worked in the youth development space my whole career—including 25 years at USAID before joining IYF five years ago—but after all this time, the return on investment when young people are leading the way never ceases to inspire me.
There’s been a lot of inspiration to go around at IYF in 2022.
Throughout the global pandemic, IYF expanded its digital solutions to meet the needs of the young people we serve, ensuring their education and training journeys were not disrupted. I’m proud to share that in 2022, our digital leadership curriculum, Supporting Others and Rising (SOAR), earned three Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards! We were awarded a Gold Medal and two Bronze Medals for Best Use of Blended Learning; Best Learning Program that Supports and Promotes Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and Best Unique or Innovative Leadership Program, respectively. In addition, IYF’s Digital Development team, working with our amazing Summer 2022 Interns, created a series of “do-it-yourself style” videos designed to educate and inform about the Principles for Digital Development.
And that’s just the beginning.
In Meeting the Moment, IYF’s second annual Impact Report, you’ll find key areas of IYF’s impact and growth in 2022. You’ll read about our Transformation 2025 strategy refresh and learn why we decided to dive deeper into climate change, entrepreneurship, and mental health. You’ll meet participants, partners, and IYF team members from programs in Latin American and the Caribbean and Africa, hearing their stories and perspectives in their own voices. You’ll find data that demonstrates the impact an investment in young people can make. Although today’s challenges are daunting, young people are meeting the moment every day!
I hope you find our 2022 Impact Report useful, informative, and inspiring. Above all, as the new year approaches, I hope you’ll find a renewed sense of purpose and passion for the transformative work we’re doing together.
President & CEO
IYF’s Transformation 2025 Strategy is a living document, one that is continuously reviewed and adapted to changing circumstances. To deliver on the organizational mission and vision of a world where young people are inspired and equipped to realize the future they want, IYF is doing what it’s always done: listening to young people and responding with action.—Joseph M. Matalon, IYF Board of Directors Chair
During the early months of the pandemic, IYF refreshed its Transformation 2025 strategy to support young people around the world, many of whom were already stepping up to address the crisis in their own communities and beyond. In 2022, we revisited our strategy again because while it is important to be responsive to unforeseen and unprecedented challenges, it’s also important to be proactive and look over the horizon.
As an organization, IYF is committed to deepening and expanding our approaches, capabilities, models, and interventions to best meet the needs of young people today. IYF’s 2022 Strategy Refresh maintains the integrity of Transformation 2025’s core, foundational objectives—Youth Agency, Economic Opportunity, and Systems Change—while incorporating and leaning into issues that are important to young people within each of these core objectives. Based on knowledge and data from the communities in which we operate, three issues emerged as especially urgent: Climate, Entrepreneurship, and Mental Health & Wellbeing.
At IYF, we believe that a healthy climate is a basic human right for young people everywhere—it’s something to which they are entitled, and something they need to reach their full potential. Moreover, addressing the climate crisis is part and parcel of IYF’s mission of equipping and inspiring young people to create the future they want for themselves, their communities, and the world.
We are committed to enhancing the resilience of communities and the environment through sustainable livelihood and social equity programming.
If we want to give today’s young people a chance to create the future they want, we need to address climate change. That’s why we’re incorporating a sustainable development framework, which recognizes the interconnectedness and interdependencies of economic growth, social equity, and environmental protection, into our technical approaches and programming. This approach is similar to the one adopted to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aligns not only with IYF’s foundational strategic objectives, but also with our dedication to advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
We are committed to enhancing the resilience of communities and the environment through sustainable livelihood and social equity programming. Capacity strengthening has always been part of IYF’s approach to partnering with local organizations, and now we’re expanding that to include strengthening the capacities of young people and their communities to absorb, adapt to, and transform in response to minor, moderate, and extreme climate-related shocks. This entails a focus on sustainable agriculture, food systems, livelihoods programming, green jobs, and working toward a sustainable economy through our systems change approach.
IYF works with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centers to incorporate skills training for the green economy.
The transition to a low-carbon economy is transforming the labor market that young people will enter over the coming decade, so we are invested in training youth for the green jobs of the future. IYF works with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centers to incorporate skills training for the green economy. To prepare young people for opportunities in the green economy, IYF has developed programs focused on the largest greenhouse gas emitting sectors, including energy, transport, food security, and agriculture.
At IYF, we are “transforming lives, together.” That means acknowledging that development work is bigger than any one individual or organization. With this in mind, we are joining three strategic climate alliances: the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY), and the Climate Action Network. In this way, we hope to elevate the concerns and voices of young people, who are too often excluded from the global discourse on climate change.
In many developing economies, the most viable option for youth livelihood is entrepreneurship, with eight out of 10 young people needing to become entrepreneurs because of the lack of formal employment. Building on our Economic Opportunity objective, IYF is committed to supporting young people using multiple solutions and economic pathways, including entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.
The overarching goal of our strategic focus on entrepreneurship is to support the creation and growth of youth innovations, businesses, and enterprises.
The overarching goal of our strategic focus on entrepreneurship is to support the creation and growth of youth innovations, businesses, and enterprises through business and technical skills development, access to finance, and by fostering a local business enabling environment. In so doing, we’re leaning into Youth Agency by equipping and inspiring young people to be agents of change in their own social and economic lives. Moreover, the focus on creating an enabling environment aligns with our Systems Change objective, allowing us to achieve greater scale through policy reform.
Take a moment to explore our impact in:
We’ve developed a dozen resources for entrepreneurship programming—including curriculums and manuals, research instruments, and toolkits—that can be leveraged and adapted for existing and future work.
IYF has addressed the concerns young people have about mental health and wellbeing through our programs for years. In fact, young people crafted and advised some of our earliest solutions such as building in crisis support services in high schools, providing free bi-lingual teletherapy, offering free yoga classes, and acknowledging the differing mental health needs by gender.
As part of IYF’s BHP-funded LEAPS program, for example, we equipped and inspired a group of high school students in Northern Louisiana called the Teen Advisory Committee (TAC) to step up and tackle mental health at the policy level, making real, lasting change in their own community. By partnering with a local organization called Communities in Schools to provide in-school resources and engagement for at-risk students in West Texas, IYF supported teens on the edge of dropping out to stay in school and deal with challenges in productive ways. Moreover, we know the need to address mental health is growing due to the impact of the pandemic, as well as increased stresses and turmoil globally, and that’s why we’ve partnered with youth-led organizations like Golden Boots, a nonprofit in Uganda that uses “the power of sport” to improve the lives, health, and mental wellbeing of young people in Kampala.
IYF has several assets that increase young people’s knowledge and skills around mental health and wellbeing. Our flagship life skills curriculum, Passport to Success, has both in-person and online lessons focused on mental health. Specifically, Passport to Success Explorer (PTSE), the online PTS curriculum used by participants in our McDonald’s-funded Youth Opportunity initiative, includes interactive lessons to teach about the importance of self-care, provide tips for finding balance, and facilitate healthy self-reflection. Similarly, our award-winning SOAR leadership curriculum provides young people with instruction on how to take care of themselves in various aspects of their lives–professional, educational, emotional, spiritual, and social. We also provide resources for adults who work with or employ young people, ensuring that they understand the impact of trauma and are sensitive to and can support the needs of these young people.
In the coming years, IYF looks forward to enhancing our resources for mental health for young people as well as for the systems serving young people—specifically schools and employers. We will build digital solutions as well as measurement and evaluation resources tailored to mental health and wellbeing to improve our understanding of needs and to reach greater impact and scale on this critical topic.
In addition to Climate Change, Entrepreneurship, and Mental Health & Wellbeing, IYF’s Strategy Refresh team is exploring other youth-responsive strategic areas to deepen our Transformation 2025 Strategy to meet the moment.
For updates on our 2022 Strategy Refresh and other topics, make sure to follow us on social media and sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Since early in IYF’s 30-year history, our work throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has been central to achieving our vision of creating a world where all young people can thrive. The first member of our global partner network was from Ecuador, and through cornerstone programs like entra21* and New Employment Opportunities** (NEO) to more recent programs such as FedEx-funded Jóvenes con Entrega and Google-supported Google IT Support Professional Certificate, our commitment to young people in the region is part of our DNA.
We’re proud of the legacy of impact we’re building throughout the region, especially in the lives of vulnerable and historically underserved populations of young people, including young women. En Trayecto is a Citi Foundation-funded program that for two years has added to this legacy by working with marginalized youth, ages 18 to 29, in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico to develop in-demand technical skills and relevant life skills that will help them secure decent jobs in sectors including logistics, information technology (IT), and manufacturing.
*Funded by USAID, IDB Lab, Argidius Foundation, Caterpillar Foundation, International Development Research Center (IDRC), ITDG - Practical Solutions, Ministry of Labor in Argentina, Nokia, TK Foundation, Walmart, Municipality of Medellin, National Training Institute of Chile (SENCE)
**Funded by Inter-American Development Bank, IDB Lab, Arcos Dorados, Australian Aid, Caterpillar Foundation, CEMEX, Forge Foundation, Microsoft, SESI, Walmart
Like other IYF programs in the region, En Trayecto supports young people from vulnerable populations, including young women, too many of whom face challenges such as low formal employment rates (only 17.8% are formally employed) and high rates of violence (71% have experienced some type of violence). Below, you’ll learn from an En Trayecto coordinator of trainers and a program participant about how they are facing, and overcoming, gender stereotypes that threaten to hold young women in the region back from discovering and unlocking their potential not only in employment, but in life.
According to Ana Lucía, a trained social worker who serves as a coordinator of trainers for the En Trayecto program, more and more professional opportunities are opening for women in Chihuahua. However, she cautions, there are still gender barriers and stigmas that can be serious obstacles to women pursuing their dreams.
Often, Ana explains, the strongest barrier relates to the kind of work women are expected to do, based solely on their gender. She hears it all the time from program participants. “Many of them talk about having to take care of the children and household,” she says, “in addition to helping cover household expenses. It’s a stigma that they have been carrying from the beginning of their lives, a barrier that has been imposed on them even at home.”
Pursuing a career—especially one in a male-dominated sector like manufacturing or logistics—is traditionally not seen as a viable option for young women in Chihuahua.
Young women have, or can develop, all the skills and capacity they need to do whatever they want. When they are given the opportunity to trust in themselves—that’s when they start to accomplish great things.
En Trayecto has been able to influence these issues in several ways, including frank discussions about gender equity with the girls and young women in the program. Many of the En Trayecto trainers, Ana says, are women. Because of this, she explains, female participants report feeling safe to express their concerns, dissatisfactions, challenges, and experiences without feeling judged.
"Young women have, or can develop, all the skills and capacity they need to do whatever they want,” Ana says. “When they are given the opportunity to trust in themselves—that’s when they start to accomplish great things."
According to Ana Lucía, this growth and sense of what’s possible comes not only from the technical skills En Trayecto participants—both men and women—learn through the program. Importantly, it’s also the life skills they develop through IYF’s Passport to Success (PTS) curriculum—like decision making, conflict management, and respect for self and others—that make all the difference.
Now, meet a young woman from the En Trayecto program, Janice, who is facing and overcoming similar obstacles in her own life.
Janice is 24 years old, a single mother of two and resident of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and a recent graduate of IYF’s En Trayecto program.
In Ciudad Juarez, 18.1% of young people like Janice are behind in education and 54.4% of women between the ages of 15 and 29 have experienced some type of violence—physical or emotional—in their community. It can be challenging in the city, Janice shares, especially “when you are not accompanied by a man, whether it is your father, your partner, or another male relative.”
The economy of Ciudad Juarez includes more than 40,000 companies. The only sector that grew during the pandemic was the manufacturing sector, which is made up of approximately 380 companies. It’s a sector that requires people trained in logistics to offer reliable, state-of-the-art services to help design and manage supply chains internationally.
Although it’s a traditionally male-dominated sector, Janice saw it as an opportunity that would allow her to get a good job in a short time. Like many young women, Janice juggles multiple responsibilities like childcare and other household duties, so she was attracted to the relatively short duration of the course.
En Trayecto changed my way of thinking, especially about continuing my studies. I thought, why shouldn’t I do it? What it left me with the most was the desire to grow and have responsibility.
Janice entered the En Trayecto program at the beginning of 2022. By the time Janice graduated from the program, she had developed in-demand technical skills and knowledge in areas such as technology in logistics, operational efficiency indicators, and inventory management.
Like many of IYF’s programs around the world, En Trayecto also includes training in life skills using IYF’s flagship Passport to Success curriculum. For Janice, this proved to be a revelation. "En Trayecto changed my way of thinking,” she shares, “especially about continuing my studies. I thought, why shouldn’t I do it? What it left me with the most was the desire to grow and have responsibility."
Despite her busy life, Janice won’t stop pursuing her dreams. Currently, she lives independently with her daughter and son, works as a saleswoman in a store, and Saturdays are dedicated to her studies to finish high school. As a result of the En Trayecto program, her new goal is to enter college and ultimately obtain a good position in the logistics sector.
"I know that achieving my goals is a process,” she says. “That excites me—to advance, little by little, is what motivates me the most right now."
In Zimbabwe, the repercussions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are experienced most severely by children and young people whose lives have been upended and made more vulnerable in myriad ways—including, too often, the loss of parents who ordinarily provide guidance, care, and basic needs like food and a place to call home. Fortunately, in many cases there are other adults who can step in to assume a caregiver role—a relative, for example, or close family friend. But even in those cases, if young people and their caregivers are to thrive, support is critical. That’s why the Pathways program—funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)—was so important.
Launched in 2018, the program set out to support Zimbabwe’s HIV and child protection systems so that vulnerable young people and their caregivers can become and remain healthy, stable, safe, and educated. IYF’s Household and Economic Strengthening (HES) component was an essential part of the Pathways program because health and stability are so closely connected to a person’s ability to earn a living that allows them to meet basic needs. After four years of investment and partnership, IYF is proud of the sustainable impact the program made in the lives of more than 100,000 people.
As part of the Pathways project, IYF’s Household and Economic Strengthening (HES) approach was family-focused, child-centric, and community based. Together with the project’s local partners, we focused on two closely connected groups—orphans and other vulnerable children, and the caregivers who provide for their needs.
Across nine districts in Zimbabwe, we equipped and supported caregivers with 56,501 services, including market-demanded skills training and the wraparound support they need to secure a decent living and care not only for the children in their charge, but also for themselves. In addition, 38,717 interventions were provided to adolescent program participants, with the addition of IYF’s Passport to Success life skills curriculum that helps develop skills like problem solving, conflict management, and healthy decision making.
As impressive as these numbers are, it’s the stories of the people, families, and communities that bring the impact of the Pathways program to life.
For many Pathways participants, HES interventions and wraparound support unlocks an entrepreneurial mindset. That was certainly the case with Zuzani Musa, a caregiver participant from the Mazowe District. “I learnt a lot,” Zuzani explained, “especially about making decisions related to product demand and innovative marketing to expand my business."
After participating in IYF’s HES training in Entrepreneurship, and with ongoing Business Mentorship support, Zuzani started a business selling clothing and shoes. Before long, she formalized the enterprise by opening a shop in the community.
As compared to before I received trainings, my income has increased, and I am now able to save money.
Like many participants, Zuzani sought and received training in more than one area. Using the information, knowledge, and skills she learned through additional HES interventions that included Agricultural and Technical Assistance, Zuzani further expanded her business to include the raising and selling of chickens.
"As compared to before I received trainings,” Zuzani explained, “my income has increased, and I am now able to save money.”
The proceeds she earned through her diversified business ventures helped Zuzani begin construction on a four-room house. In addition, she was able to buy much needed furniture for her home, and even drill a well for use by her household.
The “Young Stars,” as they are known, are a group of six young people that formed in 2020 following an HES Technical Skills training. They used the start-up kit from their training as a starting point to launch an enterprise manufacturing dish detergent for the community.
After persevering through slow sales due to Covid-19, the Young Stars pivoted their business towards the production of petroleum jelly—a highly-demanded commodity in their community. Furthermore, ongoing Business Mentorship support broadened their understanding of marketing demands and strategies. Inspired by their mentors and equipped with newly developed entrepreneurial and technical skills, the Young Stars have increased product marketability through branding and packaging.
As their business continues to grow, they are already making plans to bring “Young Stars” branded products to a wider market including large supermarkets.
Like the “Young Stars,” the Budiriro Mudhindo group includes individuals all of whom received HES training and then banded together to share knowledge, offer support, and maximize their success.
Members of the group participated in a variety of training areas, including Entrepreneurship, Business Mentorship, Market Linkage, Technical Skills, and Financial Literacy. According to member Elizabeth, “with the training we received in financial literacy, I am able to differentiate between needs and wants, and I can do financial planning for my family.”
The group was able to join a savings and internal lending community (SILC), a local, informal microfinance group common in Zimbabwe and other African countries that helps improve the resources and economic opportunities of vulnerable populations. With a growing asset and support base, the group was able to purchase a maize sheller, with 40 percent of the cost covered by a government subsidy program. With increased business (and profits) due to the shelling machine, the group earned enough to invest in additional equipment, including a mill. Moreover, with a loan application in with the Ministry, continued growth and expansion are certainly on the horizon.
Now, my daughter won’t engage in risky behavior to earn money because at home she sees me collecting cash from our business and knows I am able to support her.
Not surprisingly, group members are excited for what the future holds, not to mention the day-to-day stability that their entrepreneurial endeavors afford themselves and their families. As one member said, “Now, my daughter won’t engage in risky behavior to earn money because at home she sees me collecting cash from our business and knows I am able to support her.”
As proud as we are of the impact we’ve had in 2022, we’re equally excited about the impact we’re going to have in 2023! Below are a few of IYF’s newest partnerships. We invite you to keep an eye on them in the coming year.
Google.org – Initiatives in Colombia, Mexico, and South Africa will enable IYF to equip, support, and empower over 4,000 young people to start and succeed in careers in the information technology (IT) sector.
High Gear - the British High Commission Pretoria has announced expanded support to High Gear as the program enters into Electric Vehicle (EV) competency research and skills development.
Burberry Foundation – This three-year initiative will empower and enable young people to unlock their creativity and drive positive change in their lives and communities. Additional details forthcoming on IYF’s Program Page.
Microsoft, Digital Skills Training – Over the course of a three-year grant period, IYF will integrate core components of Microsoft’s Digital Skills curriculum to complement existing programming, starting in four countries in Latin America: Mexico, Brazil, Panama, and Colombia. Additional details forthcoming on IYF’s Program Page.
Oak Foundation – This three-year initiative will enable IYF to engage a national cohort of young people with learning differences to co-design, manage, and learn from a three-year grant making process. Additional details forthcoming on IYF’s Program Page.