About us

Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) is an international non-profit, citizen-sector organization founded in 2000. We partner with low-income communities in the U.S. and with rural communities in developing nations to create rich learning environments for youth and women to identify problems, learn about the causes, and apply appropriate technology as they solve critical problems in their home communities.

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The marriage of education and technology has the potential to increase efficiency, provide access to new markets or services, create new opportunities for income generation and give poor people a voice. We teach our students how to become producers, and not mere consumers, of solutions to their problems.

FAQ

 

Q. When and where did YTF begin its work?

A. YTF began its humble origins in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 2001. Nigeria has the third highest number of poor people in the world, after China and India, with a poverty rate of 34.1%. The Niger Delta, despite producing more than 90 percent of Nigeria’s national income through oil and gas, is the most undeveloped part of Nigeria and is resultantly the flash point of youth unrest and industrial disharmony. The high rate of unemployment, environmental degradation, dislocation of the traditional economy and unfair revenue allocation are some of the factors that have given rise to youth unrest in the Niger Delta. The region faces very complex problems of poverty coupled by a pervasive unemployment problem, especially among women and youth groups. The formal and informal sector activities are limited (Niger Delta Human Development Report, HDR), meaning that access to employment and other economic activities is limited. Predictably, the Niger Delta people see themselves as poor in the midst of plenty of riches from oil exploration – the heartbeat of the nation’s economy. Poor local governance, poor social services, HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation are other problems plaguing the region. Young people dominate the Niger Delta population: 62% of the population are aged 30 or younger.

 
 

Q. What does YTF do?

A. YTF is an innovative non-profit organization that uses the power of technology to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in developing countries. YTF creates enriched learning communities where technology affords opportunities for marginalized people in the developing world. YTF builds human capital through the development of innovative programs that use technology as a medium to educate, fight poverty, stimulate entrepreneurship and create a new generation of change leaders.

YTF has a track record of demonstrated success in implementing technology, business and economic development training programs. YTF provides capacity building, advisory services and entrepreneurial development programs that utilize best practice approaches to build multi-stakeholder partnerships among the private, public and non-profit sectors.


 

Q: What is “appropriate technology”?

A: Build it without incorporating their needs and they won’t come. Appropriate technology is technology that can be applied to 90% of the population in developing countries and can be used to research, document and disseminate information about the most basic problems for people living in these countries. Appropriate technology is human centered and human scaled, easily replicable, focuses on locally available resources and is labor intensive but energy efficient. When we use the term “Appropriate Technology” we are referring to mobile phones, the Internet and community radio.

Q. How does YTF decide to work in a specific country?

A. Growth by Acquisition (Proactive Approach): In the Growth by Acquisition model, YTF conducts a macroeconomic analysis of all countries in the region to determine which subset is more appropriate for program implementation. YTF may balance indicators of a country’s needs for its programs (such as high rate of poverty and low literacy) with gauges on the level of peace and stability. In this model, YTF relies on the local community (and/or the government) to provide the basic infrastructure, such as the building, power supply, etc. YTF delivers its repertoire of services including customized training material, human capital and operational guidelines.

Growth by Initiation or Acceleration (Reactive Approach): YTF partners with grassroots organizations interested in replicating the Community Technology and Learning Center (CTLC)-in-a-Box model. The organization or individual that initiates interest, the “franchisee”, co-invests to receive YTF’s repertoire of services including customized training material, human capital and operational guidelines.

 

Q. What is youth bulge?

A. The youth bulge is a stage of development in which a country succeeds in reducing infant mortality rates, but still maintains high fertility rates. The result is that a large share of the population comprises children and young adults who need to be schooled and employed.  Research done by the Brookings Institute, Sub-Saharan Africa’s Youth Bulge. A Demographic Dividend or Disaster (Agbor. J, Taiwo O., Smith J.) provides some good background on this issue. 

YTF’s primary market is our planet’s 1.7 billion youth, ages 10 to 24, of whom 86 percent live in developing countries. In Nigeria, where YTF first pioneered the Digital Village movement, these youth contribute as much as 80% to the GDP. The African urban population is expected to rise by 0.8 billion to reach 1.2 billion by 2050 (United Nations, 2010). This translates into an increased population density in the cities. A large population of under-educated, frustrated youth creates a greater impetus for current measures to promote youth stability and productivity.

YTF Academy is our innovative platform for solving the youth bulge by providing youth with the necessary knowledge, tools, resources and life skills to compete in today’s global economy.

Q. What is reverse migration?

A. Young people view migration as an avenue to improve their status, learn new skills and transition into adulthood. Rural youth are particularly disadvantaged; with inadequately developed education skills, many find limited employment opportunities in the urban areas. Most of these youth face a future of underemployment, low-wages, poverty, drugs and crime. Urban areas are overcrowded and overburdened, putting pressure on insufficient infrastructure, schools, health facilities and sanitation. By fleeing their traditional culture, rural youth have become human rights victims with no legal rights. Life in the city has resulted in marginalization and extreme social exclusion.

YTF is an advocate of reverse migration; creating opportunities in rural areas such that young people find relocating to the urban areas less attractive. Our founder recently highlighted the success of one of our clients, Sonny, in a recent Huffington Post interview.  Sonny decided to stay in his community to start an agri-business shortly after graduating from YTF’s TechCommunities program.  Young people are integral to reducing poverty and hunger in developing areas. They are ambassadors of rural development and want to be actively involved in the efforts to lift their communities out of poverty by creating the foundations for economic growth and productivity.

The integration of youth into agriculture and other rural-based economic activities will increase the level of labor productivity and deter an exodus from their communities. YTF works hand in hand with multi-stakeholders, including the government, to provide viable opportunities for youth to stay in their communities. This is accomplished by incorporating youth into national development strategies that promote improved rural living standards.


Q. Why does YTF invest in Youth?

A. They have the longest productivity cycle and are often co-creators of powerful information and communication technology (ICT) solutions.  YTF believes that marginalized youth living, working and going to school in communities in the developing world have extraordinary potential. We envision a world in which our beneficiaries are equipped with adequate tools and resources for preparing them to confidently compete for 21st century global opportunities. Young people are often the leading innovators in the use and spread of information and communication technologies. With the longest productivity cycle, they adapt quickly and are curious learners.

When we involve youth, not as the problem, but as part of the solution, we:

Strengthen young people’s abilities to meet their own needs;
Promote ownership and sustainability of interventions;
Help develop trust and social capital;
Prevent and reduce vulnerabilities to economic, political and socially unstable environments.


Q. Why does YTF invest in Women?

YTF knows that investing in women is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Increases in women’s income leads to improvements in children’s health, nutrition and education. A study in Brazil demonstrated that the likelihood of a child’s survival increased by 20% when the mother controlled household income.  In Nigeria, YTF has trained over 2,000 women entrepreneurs to use mobile value added services to expand their businesses through the Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Mobile Value Added Services program. 

Women are the ‘glue’ of the community. Economic empowerment increases women’s access to resources and opportunities, including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development, and market information. Investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth.


Q. How can I keep abreast with YTF’s work?

A. Our website is the most comprehensive source of information about YTF. It contains information about what we have accomplished, what we have learned and where we are headed.

We have a lot to say at YTF so to make sure you are getting all the latest news. Be sure to sign up for TechDrums, our quarterly newsletter. We also post regularly to the official YTF social media outlets including Twitter, FacebookGoogle+ and our YouTube Channel. No matter where you live or work, we are only just a click away.

Finally, get to know our work beyond the quantitative data and maps. Move to the soft side to learn about the everyday mothers, children, and communities whose lives we change for the better. See photos and stories from the field.


Q. What percentage of my donation goes to the cause versus overhead?

A. This question makes us think that overhead is a negative, that it is somehow not part of the cause. But it absolutely is, especially if it’s being used for growth. We have all been taught that charities should spend as little as possible on overhead things like fundraising under the theory that, well, the less money you spend on fundraising, the more money there is available for the cause.

We believe fundraising is the one activity that has the potential to multiply the amount of money available for the cause that we care about so deeply. At YTF, we have developed what we refer to as the 100% model. 100% of donations you make as an individual go directly to the field; either through matching programs, annual campaigns and employee engagement.   We depend on foundations and sponsors to cover staff salaries, office equipment, rent and supplies. The investments of these donors fuels our long-term mission, our ability to scale as an organization and our mission to continue to use 100% of public donations for work in our community technology and learning centers.

Q. How does YTF monitor and evaluate programs?

YTF is committed to the highest quality programs that provide measurable benefits to youth and children living, working or going to school in the developing world. Research, monitoring and evaluation of YTF’s programs help to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to make program improvements, ensure programs are on target with goals and objectives and provide timely information about progress toward objectives to stakeholders. Program monitoring is achieved through longitudinal tracking of quantitative and qualitative data from school administrative records, data from parent/household, teachers, local partnership surveys, and interviews.

 

Q. How can my company/small business get involved?

A. We partner with corporations for matching programs, annual campaigns, employee engagement and other fundraising ideas tailored to the business’ market and brand. If your company has a foundation, kindly make an introduction for YTF. For more information or to get your company or small business involved with YTF’s programs, please email corporategiving@youthfortechnology.org
 
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