Two Girls, Two Countries, One Thread: Hope for the Future

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Nzambi is 13 and lives in Kenya. Precious, 17, lives in Nigeria. Both girls count YTF’s flagship program – YTF Academy – as their opportunity to not only hone in on their future aspirations, but build a path to reach them confidently.

YTF Academy is uniquely positioned to help youth eliminate a life lived in poverty – often aiming for things they didn’t know were possible. The program operates with a curriculum based on principles and flexes to meet the needs of differing populations and circumstances.

Attitude is first. YTF Academy students are taught to dream. They are guided to tackle issues with a can-do attitude and encouraged to participate actively in the learning process.

Within this empowering context, students are taught to be both innovative and effective. Things like creativity and critical thinking top the list of skills students should walk away with upon graduation.

Health Issue Turns Into Inspiration

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Nzambi is recovering from an infection that started after an ordeal that left her with multiple fractures on her left leg. She can’t play much, but notes her favorite subjects are science and Kiswahili – which she loves to speak.

In the course of her treatment she had to be admitted at the Kenyatta National Hospital for eight months. It is here that she noted the inefficiencies that plague a well-meaning workforce. In particular, she recalls Kenya’s biggest referral hospital having its reception area crammed with patients needing emergency attention.

“I would like to use the computer to come up with systems that would see to it that patients are attended to quickly and appropriately.”

She explains that as much as she likes the computer, she does not get to spend much time on it at home. When she does get a minute, she listens to her favorite musicians. She was particularly pleased to spend extra time at a computer and learn to code “Scratch” during the coding week at with YTF.

Besides a technology solution to facilitate faster admissions and attention in hospitals, Nzambi wants to learn how to use technology to establish easier ways of recording and sharing music videos.

On becoming a producer with 3D printing

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Proud graduate of YTF Academy, Precious holds up her certificate.

Young people in Africa make up nearly 40 percent of today’s working-age population, yet 60 percent are unemployed. Looking to the future, the World Bank estimates that some 11 million youth will enter Africa’s labor market every year for the next decade. 

Precious is a secondary school graduate awaiting admission into university to study nursing. Since enrolling in YTF Academy, Precious has learned to use Autodesk Fusion360 to design and model 3D printed items. Some of her product designs are proudly displayed on Thingiverse. 

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Precious, far left, learning from 3D printing teacher Donatus, middle, about the steps necessary to design 3D printed products.

A mismatch exists between the African education system and the jobs in a knowledge-based economy. Too many young graduates are earning degrees only to find that they are not qualified for lucrative employment opportunities, largely due to the lack of basic, technical and transferable skills.

YTF Academy is changing that by providing youth with marketable skills so that they have choices; as enthusiastic employees or as job creators themselves. 

“Being a student of YTF Academy and learning about 3D printing technology has taught me that as a  young entrepreneur, I can meet my communities needs without depending on any producer or supplier,” Precious explained. “Having these skills will enable me to continue to be relevant in the global marketplace. Maybe one day I will be able to 3D print medical devices and other parts.”

Five Easy Ways to Help YTF This Month

With pride in our work and gratitude in our hearts, here are a handful of ideas of how you can to help us keep driving our mission forward. (Need a refresher on our work? Here’s what we’re all about.)

1. Shop with AmazonSmile 

We know you’re online buying last-minute gifts. No? How about splurging online with your holiday bonus? We feel ya. Just know that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible  purchases to Youth For Technology Foundation whenever you shop on AmazonSmile, so click the link and continue shopping. Easy.

2. Share your tech equipment

Did you know YTF accepts donations of working technology equipment? We’re looking for desktop computers (monitors and CPUs), laptops, printers, photocopiers, overhead projectors, digital cameras and video recorders. In particular, we are always in need of Pentium IV desktops and higher, as well as laptops.

We’re not saying to poke around your great aunt’s basement during your holiday celebrations, but if you happen to find an unused piece of equipment in good working order, we certainly won’t say no.

3. Become a brand ambassador at your company (& match donations!)

We know many companies run workplace giving campaigns encouraging their employees to donate to a nonprofit of choice. This is one way to not only make a financial contribution to YTF, but also to be an ambassador for YTF in the company.

4. Show off your fundraising skills

Did you accidently make a couple dozen extra cookies this holiday season? Have one too many holiday parties on your calendar? Follow the lead of these 2 young sisters in the U.K., who wrote to YTF about a bake sale they were hosting to benefit YTF. So sweet!

5. Remember YTF in your year-end giving.

Did you take on the challenge in #4? Awesome. Is “helping make a positive change in the world” on your New Year’s resolution list? Even better. Donating to YTF is super easy and super satisfying, especially after reading about the people in our community who get a boost up in life, with your help.

Across Africa, A New Generation of Female Entrepreneurs Are Taking Control of Their Lives

Thousands of women entrepreneurs, like Ms. Afoma, benefit from YTF’s programs.

In May 2016, in partnership with and support from MasterCard, YTF told the story of Ms. Afoma at the World Economic Forum in Kigali. She owns Hair Wizard and only 12 years ago she said had “zero money in her pocket.” Today, she is a vibrant entrepreneur having employed over 30 people in her salon.

Ms. Afoma participated in YTF’s Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs Mobile Value Added Services (NWEMVAS). Since the program’s beginning in 2012, YTF has implemented over 1,200 business skills and financial capabilities workshops to 10,823 women entrepreneurs who created approximately 1,050 jobs, began 180 new businesses within the first six months after participation, expanded 450 businesses within the first six months, and generated $6.2 million in new revenue.

YTF trained an additional 1,600 women entrepreneurs in 2016 and is on schedule to train 350 women entrepreneurs and 150 of their female employees in 2017. YTF has added training for female employees of women entrepreneurs since their education levels and employability skills are extremely low. With training, women entrepreneurs are able to guide them in their educational and employability skill attainment. 

Problem-Solving into the Future: The Story of Priscilla

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the world’s next state-of-the-art inventor. Her name is Priscilla. She enrolled in YTF through her school in Nairobi last year and was further encouraged to pursue a computer science degree after high school graduation. Her career choice would be dedicated to inventing “tools that will continue making work easier for humankind.” In other words, her hard work would make other people’s hard work easier. She, like many of us, wishes to make the world a better place. Unlike most people, however, Priscilla can choose a course, no matter how difficult, and stick with it.  

She has the uncanny talent of going over unexpected hurdles that seem to have very little to do with her passion for technology.

“One of the hardest things I have ever found myself doing is passing my history subject in school,” said Priscilla. “I always found history class hard for me but one day I forced myself to study it comprehensively and I passed a very hard paper. Now failure in history is in my history!”

Through her hard work ethic, Priscilla becomes an innovator even with subjects that are not directly related to STEM education. She takes the scientific method and applies its structure to her environment. She observes and measures the extent of the problem on a daily basis. She presents her hypotheses, and after life gives her the chance to experiment with solutions, Priscilla comes out with a sound, firm theoretical solution to whichever problem she chooses to focus on, breaking each aspect of her life into a scientific process.

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Problem: “I come from a community where most people are poor.”

Solution: “If I got the opportunity to change this state, that would create jobs for the youth and change their financial state, I would do it.”

Problem: “Political wrangles promote a country’s instability.”

Solution: “If I had the power in leadership, I would change political systems and the way people fight for power. I would help create a state that would promote peace in the nations.”

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Priscilla with her peers in YTF who also strive for a better world through technology.

Then Priscilla even wills her dedicated mindset onto her friends as she mentors them through their own challenges. Her friend Jane “hated biology in school, but after much convincing and a lot of practice and study, I was able to convince her otherwise.”

Priscilla doesn’t just overcome hard subjects; she finds a way to appreciate the topics and incorporate them into her life. Her broad knowledge of history, biology, and politics define as a sort of liberal arts student with a focus on technology. Priscilla even balances out her life with her prayer ritual that keeps her refreshed and confident in the morning. She says she “finds it refreshing to put her needs before God. I know He has me covered.” Priscilla allows different aspects of her life to all point her to education and achieving her dreams.

She prizes education highly and is hard on herself if she doesn’t try her best. Problem: Priscilla recalls one time when she “hid in the lady’s restroom for 90 minutes through a double lesson in school to avoid punishment of not completing my homework.” Priscilla said that it was “exceptionally unbecoming” of her and wonder how she could be so daring. While a rare occasion to her usual hard work ethic, Priscilla felt extremely embarrassed over the event and said that nobody would think she would run from her responsibilities. Hopefully, Priscilla learns that everyone has breaking points throughout their life and it’s what makes us human. Solution: We just stand back up and continue.  

Looks like we have a future world peace activist in the making. Will you join her in her scientific method of giving the world a better future? Click here to show support.

Making the World Better, Via West Louisville: Irena’s Story

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“Engineers try to make the world better and they want to see the world better,” 12 year old Irena explained. At YTF, we 100% agree. Nearly all of the girls that walk through our doors say they want to make the world better. So, what’s stopping them?

Research shows that adolescent girls disengage from science and math during their middle school years, although their interest is very strong.  Girls frequently do not have exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics, related careers, or know women working in STEM fields.

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YTF’s 3D Printing Academy for Girls was created in 2016 to provide STEM inspiration for girls in Kentucky through making, inventing, and designing the world that they envision for themselves. Not only are they introduced to all things 3D printing, but they have opportunities to be mentored by women in technology and engineering.  

The students are exposed to design thinking with 3D printing, programming basics (using tools like Ozoblockly), and electronics (raspberry pi and Arduino). All this while being introduced to a comprehensive, industry applicable program taught using the Socratic method answering their own questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

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Disengaging from STEM during adolescent years can be reversed by providing enrichment opportunities, hands-on learning, problem-based learning, exposure to women in STEM fields, seeing the practical impact for solving real-life needs, and mentorship from female experts in computer science and engineering.

YTF launched 3D Printing Academy for Girls strategically in West Louisville, where the a huge majority of youth (83 percent) live in poverty. Residents in the area African American (63 percent), Caucasian (37 percent), and Latino (one percent). The likelihood of participation in STEM fields is lower in West Louisville than for other students in the local school system (Jefferson County Public Schools).

Help someone like Irena get a brighter future: donate

 

Working for Herself, Reaching the World: Maureen’s Story

MaureenMaureen owns Afrocentric Afrique, a boutique established eight years ago in Nigeria. She first participated in YTF’s Women Entrepreneurs and Mobile Value Added Services program, which is designed to provide women entrepreneurs with the tools to sustain and expand their businesses. YTF trains women entrepreneurs, like Maureen, in financial skills, business capabilities and business strategies, and provides mentoring and networking opportunities.
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Maureen left a secure and stable job to start this business because she wanted to do what she loved – art. She also knew that entrepreneurship offered a lot more opportunities for women like herself.

Since participating in YTF’s program, Maureen has the knowledge and tools that she needs to market her products on global marketplaces. YTF has even paired her with someone to mentor, a young technical apprentice named Chiamaka. Chiamaka uses 3D printing software to design and model products that Maureen wants to sell to her customers. These items are 3D printed, allowing for customization and timely product fulfillment.
Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Nigeria 2014

Entrepreneurs like Maureen know that online marketplaces will revolutionize their businesses, operations, product development, and have the potential to spark exponential growth leading to job creation.

No longer must women leave home and go to brick-and-mortar shops to conduct business. No longer are Maureen’s customers just in her village—the world is now her customer base.

donateYou can hear more about Maureen’s business and how she is leverages the possibilities that 3D printing and online marketplaces afford here.

Help someone like Maureen get a brighter future:

Making Dreams (and Drones) a Reality: Emmanuel’s Story

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Emmanuel is enrolled in YTF’s 3D Africa program. He is in a university and is studying mechanical engineering. He has a passion for using engineering and technology to meet the needs of people in his community.
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Emmanuel first learned about YTF through a workshop held on campus. He was fascinated to learn of YTF’s work with 3D printing in Nigeria, in particular how YTF helps use 3D printing to design marketable engineering products.

Using AutoCAD software, Emmanuel is able to model many different objects and then print them out using a MakerBot 2 replicator at one of YTF’s engineering and prototype hubs.
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Emmanuel’s greatest accomplishment is the drone he has designed at YTF to be used for surveillance, videography and crop monitoring. He printed the drone’s case using 3D printing. “YTF has helped me achieve some of my greatest dreams making them a reality,” he said.

donateWatch Emmanuel share the process of building and 3D printing his drone, which he has named Iroh.

Help someone like Emmanuel get a brighter future:

Ladies Are as Great as Gentlemen: Anjali’s Story

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Anjali, 10, would like to be a pilot to inspire the conviction that ladies are as great as gentlemen. She would also like to come up with educational cartoons for children. Her aspirations are inspired by her appreciation for her Scratch coding class in YTF Academy. “It has been fun and easy – now that I spend some time on the computer at home,” she says.
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The first thing she does when she gets home is finish her homework, then help with the chores and help baby-sit her nine-month-old sister.
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How does she use the 30 minutes her mother allows her on the computer? “I like researching,” she says. “I check out all questions I have on social studies, history, and geography – like how the earth was formed. I also like to play games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Legends.”

donateAnjali is looking forward to code educational cartoons for children. “I would like to show them how not to use drugs and alcohol, how not to run away from school, or focus on girls not getting into trouble with boys,” she said.

Help someone like Anjali get a brighter future:

A Ticket Out of the Slums: Nuria’s Story

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At 16 years old, Nuria reacts to the world around her with childlike, candid emotions, but has an adult’s wise perspective to understand that education can change a community with poor resources. She joined YTF in December of 2015 at her home in Nairobi, Kenya, where she is originally from one of the slums of Mukuru kwa Njenge.

Nuria_2With the optimism that comes with the possibilities of technology, Nuria hopes that a computer science degree will help her to give back to her community. Before entering her current courses in form two (8th grade equivalent), she spent a year after primary school fearing that her family wouldn’t be able to afford for her to continue school. Education is a gateway to success, and for Nuria, a way out of poverty. Without the opportunity to continue her education, the future doesn’t hold many alternatives to making a livelihood. Nuria explains, “high school was once [only] a dream, but eventually the door opened… My mother got some funds and now here I am!”

Nuria_3Before participating in YTF, she was stuck on the idea that technology and computers were meant exclusively for men. Thankfully, Nuria now understands that gender should not stand in the way of her passions.

donateNuria has vowed that when she grows up she will move her family from the slums and never fall back to poverty.

Help someone like Nuria get a brighter future:

Hear from an Iranian Entrepreneur, Who Is Embedded with YTF for the Year

Narges Khoramshahi1We spoke with Narges Khoramshahi, who is currently embedded in our Louisville YTF headquarters for a year. She’s part of the Next Generation Leaders program, in collaboration with Arizona State University. The program selects professionals in their early or mid-career to spend one year in one of the leading nonprofits in United States and learn from best practices.

YTF: We love your story – it’s clear why you were chosen as an emerging leader! Tell us how you got to where you are.

Narges: Back home, I was teaching entrepreneurship. This teaching experience made me realize students are very enthusiastic and talented, and there is this potential in them. I was totally blinded by questions they asked when I first started teaching, and I quickly realized I wanted to become a mentor. I started collaborating with a foundation and made programs to help students progress.

I found that even though Iranian youth were enthusiastic, they were also disappointed. They couldn’t nail down next steps to reach their goals. They needed motivation to give them confidence, so we provided workshops to go start own business or start in the workforce.

One thing led to another, and I became a social entrepreneur, participating in different projects related to youth and women and empowerment. In particular, we know women entrepreneurs have a wide range of people they influence. My action plan is based on having female entrepreneurship clubs and centers in different universities.

In the end, I found teaching to be the most inspiring part of my background. I already had a masters in entrepreneurship. When everything came together, I discovered I wanted to learn more about social entrepreneurship.

YTF: What are you doing in particular with YTF?

Narges: I’m here to learn and to share my story. I’m listening to YTF stories, and I am coming to know that this is a path that I can follow.

I see similarities with Nigeria and Kenya and my country in that there are a large number of youth and great potential. I’m motivated by an understanding that we have to provide students with the right research and consulting. They are willing to do everything to be better students or to be better parents. The potential is there, as I see it. I just need to find the proper collaboration between government, private institutions and universities.

Ultimately, I’m glad I’m with YTF. When I saw how far you have come, I was inspired. I’m inspired to go back and do things right.

YTF: So what’s the most different with how we work here?

Narges: Everyone here is really forward and on board with new ideas and new models. Back home it’s harder. Iran has been an isolated country – they are not open to receiving what an international organization could do for us. So the global collaboration is certainly different there. A U.S. nonprofit like YTF could work in Nigeria, but in Iran, that’s not possible. We are still learning to open our doors to our global community.

People do see collaboration as a good thing, but it’s just the environment that typically stops it. The youth are enthusiastic. They want to do something, but they’re not allocating resources to help. And investors aren’t willing to invest in nonprofits.

I encourage any Iranian student to go for higher education in European countries or the U.S. or Canada to get a global connection. I especially want people in those countries to meet Iranian youth, to create that connection, and to see that Iranians are different than what’s expected.

YTF: One last question – what’s one thing you admire about YTF?

Narges: I really like that YTF stands by their values. They aren’t trying to just collaborate with anybody. They want to do more – something influential.

If doing something is really going to help the youth to have a better standard of life or gain good experience, they would go for it. From Latin America to Louisville, YTF has the vision to provide opportunities for every youth. Not only African countries.

They “believe talent is universal,” as [YTF President] Njideka always says. They really want youth in so many different countries to have equal opportunities.