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Youth Leadership

We champion a generation of young leaders. The IAYG family’s extensive commitment to youth leadership spans every stage of youth and in every part of the world. Organizations in the IAYG family educate young people to advocate and lead, create avenues of youth leadership and engagement, remove societal barriers to youth leadership, and directly mobilize young people on every continent to take action – to the benefit of better societies for all people.

Every Child Deserves the Chance to Lead

Young people are not tomorrow’s leaders: they are today’s leaders. The empowerment of young people as leaders in their communities and countries, rather than simply as individuals served, molds more engaged young people, forms more connected societies, and yields better and more inventive solutions. Supporting young people as community leaders is not merely an investment in their future – building critical skills, encouraging better decisions, and improving educational outcomes – but in more inclusive, forward-looking communities with stronger societal leadership. And the evidence is clear: children and youth, when given the opportunity to lead, can tackle the toughest challenges, take on the deepest societal responsibilities, and lead children and adults alike to achieve shared community goals.

In many parts of the world where the IAYG family works, high youth unemployment and youth involvement in organized crime remain serious issues. Whether young people are treated as individuals with agency, responsibility, and the potential to create change can be the difference between a generation of engaged leaders, or a generation of disenchanted youth disposed to crime and poverty, destabilizing societies that already face deep endemic challenges.

Likewise, in humanitarian crises the IAYG family responds to on the ground, investing in young people as societal leaders – vested with responsibility and educated to lead – is at the centre of our work to combat radicalization, encourage tolerance, strengthen shared community identities, connect young people more closely to their communities, and encourage growth and reconciliation in communities torn by conflict. 

However, there remain extensive barriers across the world to youth leadership: few avenues of engagement, societal resistance, and gaps in opportunity, exacerbated by socioeconomic disparity. Giving young people the tools to lead – and convincing societies to led them take the lead – remain critical focus areas moving forward.

Our Focus

We work as the global champion of young leaders: building a pipeline of youth leadership at all levels, from education to mobilization. The IAYG family’s work in youth leadership, which includes the IAYG family’s deployment in humanitarian crises, builds societies receptive to youth leadership and directly mobilizes a generation of youth to lead. In addition to technical support to governments for expanding education and opportunity in youth leadership, the IAYG’s commitments focus on:

  • Expanding education that supports youth leadership: as part of our broad-based commitment to education that builds globally connected, culturally aware, tolerant young people with the opportunity to lead, IAYG works at every level of education to provide young people with the global understanding and understanding of children’s rights needed to take leadership – including helping direct national policy in partnership with national governments representing more than five million students.
  • Creating avenues of engagement: in the issues that matter most for young people, organizations within the IAYG family create pathways for youth engagement. From the National Campaign for Youth in Education Policy, an IAYG joint-venture institution in the United States that extends access and engagement in global education policy, to IAYG family-funded environmental engagement initiatives in the Developing World, we work everywhere to create opportunities for youth to lead.
  • Changing societal attitudes: societal attitudes and barriers are frequently among the highest barriers to youth leadership. In schools, community centres, houses of worship, and other shared spaces, IAYG family organizations work at the local level to expand understanding of youth leadership, appreciation of its value, and build community-based coalitions to support young leaders.
  • Mobilizing and organizing young leaders: the IAYG family builds some of the world’s largest and most expansive organizational platforms for young leaders – directly channeling their passion into impact all across the world. In communities worldwide, IAYG family organizations like the Global Initiative for Youth Service are mobilizing young leaders on an unprecedented scale.
  • Investing in promising youth leaders: Through family initiatives like Juvenext, the IAYG family additionally selects promising young leaders from across the world, sponsors their work, and scales their impact.

The IAYG family’s expansive institutional commitment and leadership in advancing youth leadership is shared across all IAYG family organizations, local affiliates, and partner institutions. Together, the IAYG family and its partners are building a world where every young person can lead.

Learn more about the IAYG family’s work in youth leadership:

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