Youth Opportunity: A Global Priority


This blog post originally appeared on the Grads of Life Forbes site.

Inspired by the vast potential these young people represent for their communities, YouthBuild International together with the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, Prudential Financial Inc., and Global Development Incubator,  partnered to host two dozen young leaders between the ages of 18 and 30, from 12 different countries, in Philadelphia for a week of conversation and leadership development. This inaugural Global Opportunity Youth Convening, designed and led by YouthBuild International, brought together young leaders from El Salvador, Haiti, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, United States, Kenya, South Africa, United Kingdom, Jordan, and India, as a first step to building a global youth network that will work with institutional partners to address the challenge of youth unemployment globally.

“There are over 350 million young people in the world today who are not connected to opportunities for training, school, or formal work. This challenge calls for urgent, organized action that must be informed by the lived experience of this global youth constituency,” said Tim Cross, president of YouthBuild International. “It was insightful hearing the analysis and ideas for action from the youth delegates, and we are excited to have launched a permanent network of global opportunity youth who will guide the work as we carry it forward in 2019.”

The youth delegates, who are either disconnected from or recently connected to work and education, represented six different languages and came from rural and urban low-income communities. Participants had the opportunity to build connections and friendships across cultures and share their personal experiences of work and leadership in their home countries. For almost all of them, it was their first time outside their home country and represented an intense week of learning and work but also fun and laughter.

Mercy Matubatuba from South Africa captured the spirit and outcomes of the week very well. “We will go back with a lot of information and bring solutions to whatever problems we are facing in our countries and be the first ones to make a change,” she said. “I am excited to go back and make a change in my community.”

The week was organized as part of an effort to ensure young people help shape the design of a new global initiative – the Global Opportunity Youth Initiative (GOYI) – that aims to work with community leaders around the world to support pathways for youth into decent work. The GOYI will focus on working with local leaders—especially youth— through a collaborative, systems-change methodology to increase jobs and livelihoods for opportunity youth across the globe. The youth delegates’ aspirations and ideas will also influence the creation of a longer-term global opportunity leadership pillar as a central component to the initiative’s work.

Our week in Philadelphia with global opportunity youth left us even more convinced in the talent, passion, motivation, and energy that young people can bring to their communities if their voices and leadership are respected and elevated. Our organizations look forward to working with these 24 young leaders and many more of their peers around the world to create a future of possibility and decent economic opportunity for this generation’s youth.

The Global Opportunity Youth Initiative is being designed by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, YouthBuild International, Prudential Financial, and the Global Development Incubator. These core partners are being joined by other global and local institutions who share a vision for creating greater economic opportunity for youth globally. A more comprehensive description of the genesis and vision of the GOYI can be found in a recently released report: “A Global Opportunity: Get Youth Working.” Read the report here.

If you are interested to learn more, or become involved as GOYI partner, please contact: