News — June 27, 2016
JCI Takes a Giant Leap in Empowering Young People: The Global Youth Empowerment Fund
By: JCI Secretary General Arrey Obenson
Youth have not always been seen as leaders. However, with nearly 2 billion of the world’s population between the ages of 15 and 30, we can no longer deny their role in the development of our future. Millions of dollars has been invested in research to determine the characteristics of this generation, often referred to as Millennials. However nothing defines the characteristics of any generation more than the events happening around them.
Young people today are the most educated generation the world has yet to see. As stated in The Economist Article “Generation Uphill,” due to better nutrition and mass education, average intelligence scores have been rising for decades in many countries. Although they are the most connected due to technological advances, “Generation Uphill” describes how low voter turnout makes them the least heard in political decisions, including the socio-economic development of our world. The global economy has not expanded fast enough to provide sufficient employment or business opportunities for this generation nor has government policy adjusted to the rising expectations or needs of these young people. Consequently, we are seeing unprecedented levels of youth unemployment. As empowered and educated as these young people are, they oftentimes lack the opportunities or skills that enable them to launch their own businesses, find employment opportunities and contribute to the sustainable development of their communities.
The world must respond to the expectations and needs of these young people without which there will be grave consequences. As stated in The Economist article “Young, Gifted and Held Back,” “Today’s under-30s will one day dominate the labour force. If their skills are not developed, they will be less productive than they could be. Countries such as India that are counting on a demographic dividend from their large populations of young adults will find that it fails to materialize. Rich, ageing societies will find that, unless the youth of today can get a foot on the career ladder, tomorrow’s pensioners will struggle.”
This realization demonstrates how civil society must play its part in engaging, enhancing and channeling the skills of young people in ways that are unmatched. For that reason, JCI is taking a giant leap forward. Through launching the Global Youth Empowerment Fund, JCI will evolve from being an organization that once only provided development opportunities and tools empowering young people to create positive change, into an organization that will also provide funding, mentorship and resources to empower young active citizens and help create this change.
JCI aspires to be the organization that unites all sectors of society to create positive change. To accomplish this long-term goal, JCI developed and is implementing the JCI Active Citizen Framework: a systematic guide to help young people identify challenges within their communities, collaborate with like-minded community stakeholders, namely government, businesses and civil society organizations to craft sustainable solutions. Through this process young people acquire relevant skills that make them active citizens. Mindful of the significant impact the JCI Active Citizen Framework implementation has created, the organization is taking the logical and equally daring leap forward in order to multiply its impact by bringing resources to support the work JCI members do in communities across the world.
Together, JCI in partnership with the SDG Action Campaign (formerly the UN Millennium Campaign) launched the Global Youth Empowerment Fund, which will attract funding from the private sector and accord grants to collaborative, youth-based community initiatives that provide sustainable solutions to community needs. The Fund responds to an urgent need and will inspire young people to get active in community collaborative initiatives that will allow them to acquire the skills and experience that will enable them to be become active citizens and leaders in their communities. The Fund will enable the organization to monitor and measure its impact as well build a database of transformational sustainable project ideas that will inspire young people across the globe. It will also enable JCI to tell the story of how if young people are empowered they can play a vital role in creating a better, more peaceful and prosperous world.
The work of the Fund requires the help of citizens across the world, global citizens. Most importantly for the Fund to accomplish its ambitious goals, it requires a significant amount of funding. Currently receiving commitments from founding donors, in its first year, the Fund will support a small number of projects. Over time, the Fund will grow as more partners and donors are engaged, as we also learn from the outcomes of the first projects funded in 2016. Grants from the Fund will not simply go to charitable projects, but will fund projects that are sustainable, innovative, forward-thinking and aligned to at least one of 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. JCI continues to reach out to individuals, foundations and corporations that see value in the empowerment of young people to join in this campaign to create an opportunity for young people to participate in building a world in which they are actors and not just spectators.
The future unquestionably lies in the hands of young people. It is our responsibility to join forces to empower them. The Global Youth Empowerment Fund is an opportunity to support the need for youth empowerment.
Generation Uphill; the Young. (2016, January 23). The Economist (US).
Young, Gifted and Held Back; the Millennial Generation. (2016, January 23). The Economist (US).