Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Project Scotland Continues Despite Funding Cut

Scotland’s national youth service program, Project Scotland, was a roaring success, impacting youth and their communities across the country, until it received a major financial blow in April 2008. Despite efforts to lobby the government through petition and protests, the SNP government in Scotland passed legislation to drastically cut the program’s funding. The legislation reduced funding from £6.5 to £1.4 million in 2008, and then plans to effectively cease all funding in March 2009. †

Why was the funding cut for such a promising initiative? Representatives for the SNP party claim that they intended to direct the funding toward a wider range of organizations. Yet key findings of the report by Roger Tym & Partners, a leading economic development consultancy, concluded that Project Scotland is worth at least £21.4m a year to the Scottish economy. In addition, it is 10 times more effective than Jobseekers in helping young people into sustainable, long-term employment, it saves the government £1.7m a year in welfare spending, and it delivers benefits to partner organizations of £9m a year.

Despite the budget cut, Project Scotland will continue to serve as an independent organization and has taken innovative steps to secure alternative financial backing. According to its website, Project Scotland has launched a new fundraising program called Catalyst for Change, hoping to pair 50 businesses with 50 local volunteers. Companies involved in Catalyst for Change are asked to pledge £3,000 to sponsor a young person’s training and six-month placement. In return, the business receives updates about the trainee and community’s experience as well as positive press and bragging rights that they have given back to the community. Scottish businesses that are already involved include Weatherford, KCA Deutag and Opito.

Project Scotland, a national youth volunteering charity in Scotland, was known for its contribution to many Scottish communities and its distinctive way of connecting with Scottish youths through the media. The organization was established and funded by the previous Scottish government in 2004, to offer full-time volunteer placements for 16-25 year olds for three to six months in order to help their communities and develop skills for future employment. Project Scotland was also a way to address their country’s disproportionally high amount of dropout students and unemployed graduates.

Youth across Scotland were given a new hope with these unique and exciting opportunities. Scott Palmer of Auchinleck won a 2008 Young Scot award after leading a Project Scotland Initiative in his neighborhood. His team landscaped eight community gardens in their town. He then went on to start and lead Auchinleck’s first youth group. The 19-year-old left the program with a national award, a perked interest in land engineering, and a job offer. Scott and others like him are seeing brighter futures because of their volunteer opportunities, with or without government support.

Their website boasts, “Research shows that young people can and do increase their self-confidence and self-esteem, develop a range of communication skills and improve their ability to work with other people through volunteering. It can act as a catalyst for young people to engage more effectively with other learning or training and, indeed, many young people develop practical skills related to their specific experiences of volunteering.”

The Volunteer Summer 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Y2Y Global Youth Conference 2008

In Conjunction with the United Nations Week celebrations this year, the Youth-to-Youth Community (Y2Y) of the World Bank organized the 'Y2Y' Global Youth Conference 2008 held at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Y2Y is a community of young staff within the World Bank, its' mission is to mainstream youth issues within the World Bank and the broader development community and to engage with young people around the world through a participatory and demand driven approach. The conference is one of Y2Y’s main products and is organized by a dedicated and enthusiastic network of Y2Y volunteers. In previous years, the conference has attracted audiences of more than 300 individuals from around the world.

The conference discussed the holistic approach to youth development necessary to address the growing educational and employment needs of youth. The conference highlighted the importance of this approach by promoting a dialogue among various stakeholders on how to equip youth with the adequate tools and competencies that will enable them to earn a dignified livelihood while positively impacting their communities.

The theme of the conference – Empowering a Generation: Developing Skills and Capacities in Youth – emphasized the urgency to focus on and invest in the needs of young people the world over. The conference sessions featured organizations from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. Representatives from these organizations presented their key projects and engaged in discussions on the challenges, constraints and successes experienced during the implementation and evaluation of their work.

One of the programs highlighted was 'The Girl Effect' —a collaboration between the World Bank, several governments, and the private sector to promote the economic empowerment of adolescent girls in poor and post-conflict countries. Stuart Hogue, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Nike Foundation spoke about how empowering women is fundamental for a country's overall economic stability and prosperity highlighting that "The greatest resource in breaking the cycle of poverty is the adolescent girl."

Youth @ Annual Meeting 2008

*Cross post from www.youthink.worldbank.org*

October 24, 2008—Why should youth be involved in development discourse? Well, today's young people are the future world leaders, after all! Decision-makers today need to work with youth—both learn from them and help them learn. With some 1.5 billion young people between the ages of 12 and 24 in the world, youth represent a tremendous opportunity to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty worldwide.

This year, for the first time ever, the World Bank and IMF Annual Meetings included a special three-day session devoted to youth! From October 8–10, 18 young leaders from around the world gathered in Washington to discuss their projects, goals, and development concerns. And while many of the sessions were gruelingly long and intense, participants stayed enthusiastic and engaged throughout. The result: the sharing of many great ideas and initiatives, plus tangible action plans for how youth can become bigger players in development.

What They Talked About

Over the three days, participants shared their views on topics including how young people can exercise citizenship and make their voices heard in society, the school-to-work transition, the World Bank's engagement with youth, and an action plan on how youth can be vital partners in development. Below are just a few of the many interesting ideas and comments raised during the sessions:

Mark Garcia of Silliman University in the Philippines, works on a project that aims to increase youth involvement in monitoring transparency in local government. He observed that low self-worth leads many young people to doubt their ability to make a difference. "If they're not convinced that they have value," he said, "they are hard to mobilize."

Ismaƫl Mamadou-Tanko, president of the Youth Development and Peace (YDP) network in Togo, discussed his fundraising efforts to help send girls to school. In his opinion, the solution for helping to educate Togo's youth is investment. "There aren't even enough computers in the classrooms," he said, "and teachers' salaries just aren't high enough."

Renata Florentino, who works on a project to improve cities in Brazil, with and for youth, talked about how important it is to involve everyone. "When you put all the groups together, you can really make a change," she said, adding that while it can take a long time to bring everyone on board, the end result is more participatory and therefore effective.

Action Plan: Teaming Up with World Bank

Participants brainstormed over how youth can be more involved in what the World Bank does, and came up with several tangible areas of interest:

  • Strengthen coordination of youth organizations at the local, national, regional and global level. This includes identifying Youth Advisory Groups, Youth for Development and Peace networks, and national Youth Councils that exist in a particular country
  • Enhance information dissemination and make information youth friendly and localized
  • Youth to get information on projects in the pipeline, and training on how to access information
  • Participation in the country assistance strategy—reaching out to the appropriate staff in country offices
  • Plan for the Youth @ Annual Meetings 2009

It was generally agreed that the sessions also helped to clarify what the World Bank is all about, and what it can and can't do.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Leonardo DiCaprio and other celebs pump up youth vote

*Cross post from Reuters*

Celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire and will.i.am are out to convince young people to vote — and they have made a series of public service announcements for the cause in partnership with Google, YouTube, Declare Yourself and MySpace.

While many of the celebrities have shown their support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, the PSAs are meant to be non-partisan in tone and content, so don’t expect any digs at Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate.

In the first ad, stars including Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Ashton Kutcher, address viewers directly and urge them in a tongue-and-cheek way not to vote, before going on to not only call on the viewers to vote but to make sure they are registered and that their friends, too, are registered and are voting.

The PSA was produced by DiCaprio’s company, Appian Way Productions. This past weekend, we interviewed DiCaprio and he talked about his desire to get young voters to the polls. “My big message on this next election is that, hopefully, the youth movement will come out in full force this time,” DiCaprio said. “Hopefully we will have a true representation of this country because enough young people who care about policies for the next 50 years will go out to the polls and vote for the candidate they think best represents the United States.”

Alot has been made about the youth vote in this year’s election, and Obama has had a great deal of success in engaging young Americans. He even listens to hip hop music. Yet, time and again in U.S. elections, young people have failed to turn out at the polls in the numbers that older citizens do. Maybe this will help; maybe not. But it can’t hurt. If you’re in your 20s, will you vote? The election is Nov. 4.

Click here to watch the videos: http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare/2008/10/02/leonardo-dicaprio-other-celebs-pump-up-youth-vote/

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