As a demographic, over one-sixth of the global population are between the ages of 15 and 24. Because of its sheer size, this group plays a critical role in forging the next steps for global development. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) introduced the Global Leadership and Education Advancing Development (Global LEAD) Initiative in August of 2020 in order to support and empower the world’s youth. Youth help shape the future of their respective nations. As a result, USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative aims to increase youth participation in building resilient and self-supporting communities. The Initiative serves as an umbrella project, with several programs branching out.
Key Subgroups of Global LEAD
- New Partnerships Initiative (NPI): A fundamental goal of USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative is to make connections between young people, the communities they serve and other related groups and organizations. The NPI is a separate initiative led by USAID that removes access barriers to various USAID resources and funding. NPI impacts USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative by allowing for diversification of available partnerships, helping youth connect with the organizations that serve them.
- YouthPower2 (YP2): Part of the process for USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative is to proactively support young people, providing them with training and resources to give them the skills they need to foster healthier communities at the start. YP2 uses what is known as a “positive youth approach,” meaning that adolescents are empowered to participate and play active roles in societal endeavors. Under this model, YP2 works with groups and organizations that are run by youth, or that serve youth. Another program that emerged from YP2 is YouthLead, which puts a strong emphasis on building leadership abilities among youth. YouthLead connects youth with opportunities to engage in service and advocacy projects within their communities. The program also provides information on funding, grants and scholarships so that young people have the financial resources to make positive changes for their futures.
- HELIX: Higher Education for Leadership, Innovation and Exchange, or HELIX, is another mechanism of USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative that supports its mission to encourage nations and communities to prepare themselves on the “Journey to Self-Reliance.” Under this program, the focus is on bettering the capacity of higher education institutions and systems to find innovative solutions to cultivating increased development within communities. Various partners of the HELIX program aim to provide opportunities for global youth to access higher education, such as through scholarships, internships, research and fellowships. USAID believes that having better access to higher education is fundamental for a nation’s development, where a nation can experience sustainable progress by nurturing the cognitive and creative capacities of its youth.
Leaders of Tomorrow
The youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow so it is vital that they are included in the process of bettering communities. USAID’s Global LEAD Initiative is taking steps to ensure that the world’s youth have access to the necessary resources to be able to innovate and lead further international development.
– Melanie McCrackin