Monday, November 13, 2006

YouthBuild International

YouthBuild International: helping young people from low-income communities to rebuild their neighbourhoods and their lives

13 November 2006

On Thursday 9 November, a meeting to explore areas of linkages between YouthBuild International and CYP was held at the CYP London office.

The meeting was attended by Clayton Peters, Associate Director for International Projects, at YouthBuild International, Cristal Saldanha Stainbank, Youth Development Adviser for CYP, and Diane Mensah-Bonsu, Website Coordinator for CYP.

YouthBuild International is a Boston-based, non-profit organisation that provides technical assistance, training, consultation, capacity-building grants, and other resources to governments, schools, NGOs, and youth groups in the areas of:

* Youth Livelihoods/Small Business Development
* Non-formal/complementary education
* Youth leadership development and civic education
* Linking youth development and community development
* Youth Worker Training
* NGO Capacity building
* Youth programme design
* Housing construction and community revitalisation.

In the U.S.A, YouthBuild supports a network of more than 230 independent programmes, and internationally, YouthBuild is engaged with programmes in Bangladesh, Canada, China, Mexico, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan, and the West Bank/Gaza.

In YouthBuild programmes, unemployed, undereducated and socially-excluded young people aged between 16 and 30 create tangible community assets such as housing, community centres, and play areas, while studying to complete secondary school, learning to be leaders in their communities, and getting support to make positive change. Since 1994, 60,000 YouthBuild students in the U.S.A. have built more than 15,000 affordable homes while preparing for jobs and further education.

In the U.S.A., the bulk of YouthBuild programmes are targeted at youth in inner city areas where school dropout rates can be as high as 40% and 50%. YouthBuild programmes reach out to youths who are experiencing multiple challenges ranging from substance abuse, being in conflict with the law, unemployment and poverty.

Hands-on job training is an essential component of the YouthBuild programme, with the physical construction process “being a good metaphor; the programme is about the low-income youth building houses and other infrastructure whilst rebuilding their own lives in the process” said Mr Peters.

Ms de Saldanha, who, before joining CYP, worked for the Johannesburg City Council where she managed community development programmes for marginalised groups, outlined possible areas of linkages between CYP and YouthBuild. She said there was a synergy between YouthBuild’s expertise in Youth Livelihood/Small Business Development, and CYP’s ‘Youth Enterprise and Sustainable Livelihoods’ (YESL) programme. The CYCI Toolkit, a holistic enterprise training and support model, is in the final stages of revision, and therefore opportunities to share materials about successful youth livelihoods models was a tangible area for collaboration. In addition, she explained that the Youth Affairs Division has just appointed a new Director, Dr Fatiha Serour, who has extensive expertise in sustainable livelihoods through her work in UN DESA. CYP YESL’s programme not only promotes employment and enterprise opportunities for young people, but also provides capacity building programmes which make them more employable.

Ms de Saldanha, who oversees the Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development, explained that Module 11 on ‘Promoting Enterprise and Economic Development’ and Module 13, which focuses on ‘Sustainable Development and Environmental Issues’ were further opportunities, for CYP and YouthBuild to develop collaborative on-line training.

A study of YouthBuild has shown that young people want to be involved in contributing to something constructive to the community, and CYP applauds YouthBuild in that it is able to facilitate that process. The initial meeting between CYP and YouthBuild proved to be a fruitful one, and both organisations will continue to advocate for and contribute to projects that facilitate employment for young people.

For more information, please contact Clayton Peters at

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