Apply for funding

International Youth Day: Innovating to leverage the potential of all generations

Posted 12th August 2022

Today, on International Youth Day, the United Nations recognises efforts of the world’s youth, aged between 15 and 24 years old, in enhancing global society. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that young people make in education, employment, conflict resolution and social justice. This year’s theme, Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages, emphasises that action is needed across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind.

Yet of the 1.8 billion youth in the world today, half survive on less than $2 per day. The late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, recognised the opportunity and potential of young people and the risk of marginalising them.

“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation,” he said. “Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished.”

GIF seeks to achieve impact by finding and funding evidence-backed innovations with the potential to transform the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people, including youth. This is why we chose to invest $600,000 in Educate!, which tackles youth unemployment by partnering with youth, schools, and governments to design and deliver education solutions to equip young people in Africa with the skills to succeed in today’s economy.

Rigorous external evaluations of Educate!’s flagship in-school model in Uganda have found that this solution leads to improved incomes, transferable skills, and other education and gender equity-related outcomes, especially for young women. This in-school innovation includes a 35-lesson course on leadership and entrepreneurship, one-on-one mentoring sessions focused on personal development and business clubs designed to help scholars design projects that generate income.

To increase sustainability and scale, Educate! also supports governments in integrating core components of this proven skills-based curriculum into national education systems, and has done so in Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. This year, Educate! launched a new model for out-of-school youth: industry and target group-specific skills bootcamps for youth who cannot access secondary school.

Before school closures in March 2020 due to the onset of COVID-19 in East Africa, Educate! measurably impacted 46,000 youth annually across Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. An additional 431,000 youth were reached indirectly by participating in business clubs with scholars, curricula reform and teacher training with the government. The GIF-funded Randomised Controlled Trial showed that Educate! graduates improved soft skills such as creativity, grit, ability to manage stress, and self-efficacy relative to non-Educate! graduates.

Educate! graduates are more likely to complete high school, with young women at 7.9% — enough to virtually close the gender gap. Female graduates are also 25% more likely to enrol in tertiary education and are 22% more likely to select business and STEM majors in university.

Another GIF investment is on a mission is to end sexual violence against women and children globally by delivering a dual-gender sexual violence prevention intervention to boys and girls aged 10-20 in schools and community safe spaces.

No Means No Worldwide (NMNW) has developed a curriculum called IMpower, which aims to end the cycle of violence by teaching boys to respect women and girls, and to empower girls to stand up for their rights. It also provides aftercare support to survivors to prevent them from being harmed again.

GIF has provided grants totalling over $2 million to NMNW to support the expansion of its curriculum. To create far-reaching impact, NMNW will need to partner with other organisations and provide them with tools to effectively deliver the No Means No programme to millions of girls and boys. GIF funds will be used for partners’ trainings, staffing of NMNW towards servicing partnerships effectively, and building organisational support systems.

The training includes explanation of the assault continuum, verbal and basic physical strategies for self-defence, and six hours of role playing. The curriculum has so far been delivered to approximately 300,000 girls and boys in Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi.
The programme is designed to enable girls to increase their skills in assertiveness, boundary setting, and understanding of their rights, and develop the verbal and physical skills to defend themselves in an attack.

Boys increase their gender-equitable attitudes, learn skills to defend equality, avoid violence, ask for consent, and intervene when witnessing or anticipating sexual assault. NMNW also works to increase girls’ and boys’ disclosure of experiences of sexual violence and provide referrals for comprehensive support.

At GIF, we have invested in more than 50 innovations throughout the developing world and expect them collectively to improve the lives of more than 135 million people by 2031. By providing training and changing attitudes, GIF investments are giving young people the opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.


Photo credit: Nadja Wohlleben, Photojournalist and Documentary Photographer