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Harnessing Youth Leadership in Peace and Prosperity

The Generation Change Fellows Program strengthens youth leaders’ peacebuilding skills while creating a community of practice.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Based on successful pilot programs, USIP will bring to scale the Institute’s engagement with youth as agents for peace and prosperity. The specifics of the approach will be co-created with USIP youth partners who are Generation Change Fellows, to ensure youth are directly informing the design, implementation and evaluation of programming. The objective of this approach, including several connected projects, is to strengthen the capacity of youth leaders build peace and prosperity by engaging their communities in processes that identify problems as well as solutions and provide for the implementation of initiatives to address these problems. Youth-led Participatory Action Research (PAR): In 2017 USIP piloted a youth-led Participatory Action Research project to elevate the role of youth in research and agenda-setting. The program developed participants’ capacity to design and implement community-driven research on issues including countering violent extremism and youth engagement in political processes. Youth-Led Dialogue Design and Facilitation: Building upon USIP’s Generation Change Fellows Program, the Institute will train youth leaders to design and facilitate community–based dialogues. Fellows will complete USIP’s online course on designing community-based dialogue and will then participate in a training on dialogue facilitation. USIP will collaborate with Fellows to implement youth-led, community-based dialogues through USIP’s Youth Peacebuilding Fund. Youth Peacebuilding Fund: The Progress Study on UNSCR 2250 reveals that funding for youth-led peacebuilding initiatives remains a barrier to youth participation in peace and security efforts. Opportunities for flexible funding is in greater demand in conflict-affected communities because of the need to adapt to changing dynamics. USIP will launch a Youth Peacebuilding Fund to enable youth who have participated in the above programs to pilot new peacebuilding programs.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Through the Generation Change Fellows Program, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) strengthens youth leaders’ peacebuilding skills while bringing them together to build a community to help them achieve social change. The program carefully selects small cohorts of dedicated peacebuilders aged 18-35 through a highly competitive application process. Tackling some of the world's most difficult challenges-from countering violent extremism to enhancing gender equality-these peacebuilders have founded or manage youth-led peacebuilding organizations. While Generation Change Fellows are our beneficiaries, they are also our implementing partners. They implement youth-led peacebuilding programs that reach thousands of secondary beneficiaries each year.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Best practices in the field of Youth, Peace, and Security suggest that strengthening youth-led organizations to implement locally developed peacebuilding programs is the most effective way to engage youth in creating grassroots change. Through our youth programs mapping, we identified two unique value propositions of GCFP. First, there are very few organizations that focus on engaging youth-led organizations and there is only one other organization working with youth-led organizations focused on peacebuilding. Second, there are no other organizations offering long-term, sustained engagement and capacity building for leaders of youth-led peacebuilding organizations. USIP's Generation Change Fellows Program fills this gap and elevates the role of youth in building peace and prosperity.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Full Scale Roll Out: I have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

USIP has claimed a unique position in the youth and peacebuilding space, through a multifaceted approach to engaging youth in peacebuilding that includes programs, policy, and partnership.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Evidence suggests that youth can and do play active and valuable roles as agents of positive and constructive change. Youth demonstrate openness to learning, are more future-oriented, more idealistic and innovative, and are more willing to take risks – all of which contribute to their power and potential as peacebuilders. Many young people living in conflict-affected communities facing the above challenges are taking proactive approaches to resolving conflicts within their communities.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

At 1.8 billion, today’s generation of youth aged 10-24 is the largest the world has ever known. Six hundred million of these youth live in fragile or conflict-affected contexts. As youth navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood, they are more easily influenced by external parties, narratives, or ideologies. Circumstances affecting countries across the globe including corruption, high unemployment rates, and discrimination enhance the likelihood of youth partaking in activities such as violent extremism. USIP partners with youth as critical stakeholders and partners to ensure that youth are included and engaged in peace and prosperity efforts in a meaningful way at all levels. This approach supports youth leaders as they transform their local communities. Seeing youth as partners, allows USIP to support youth from behind as they lead peace and prosperity efforts in their communities. Is is through that lens that this expansion will be implemented

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

GCFP carefully selects small cohorts of dedicated peacebuilders aged 18-35 through a highly competitive application process. These cohorts of youth leaders become USIP's implementing partners in our youth, peace and security programs. The program is currently active in Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria), Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan) and the Middle East (Jordan and Yemen), and Latin America (Colombia and Venezuela).

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Even the most dedicated young leaders face challenges and burnout as they work to create change. USIP developed the Generation Change Fellows Program (GCFP) to counter this isolation through a family-like community of practice, to augment the existing knowledge and skills of participants through mentorship and training, and to partner with them in community-led peacebuilding initiatives. The expansion of this program builds upon a deep relationships with youth peacebuilders.

Geographic Focus

The expansion will deepen existing programs across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The program expansion will be implemented, using a scaffolded approach, over the next three years (36 months).

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

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