Looking Back at the Year That Was

Dear Friend,

As 2016 comes to a close, I am truly amazed and humbled by the great work we are accomplishing together. We have spent the last 15 years working to empower youth and women living in the developing world and low-income communities by providing them with the technology to achieve life-changing results in education and entrepreneurship. 

  • With your support, YTF doubled our investment in monitoring and evaluation for impact. We know that a major threat for economic development and global stability, particularly in Africa, is the mismatch between skills demanded by the private sector and those that the workforce can supply. A 2014 study by PWC stated that 96 percent of CEOs in Africa, compared to a global average of 63 percent, are concerned about the lack of skills. YTF Academy is designed to bridge that gap. We are especially proud to share Deborah’s experience as an intern while enrolled in YTF Academy. In 2017, we plan to unveil our recommended solutions on the skills gap conundrum to address youth unemployment. You’ll want to stay tuned.   
  • With your support, YTF continued to develop programs in partnership with private sector companies that invest in the success and sustainability of women-owned small businesses. This work wouldn’t be complete without providing entrepreneurial education in the form of business skills, technology acumen and financial literacy alongside mentoring and networking. Afoma, one of our program participants, introduced e-payments into her business, “Hair Wizard and Spa.” She now employs over 30 people in her business and is a role model for other young women and aspiring entrepreneurs in her community. 
  • With your support, YTF test-launched 3D Printing Academy for Girls in Kentucky, with hopes of fully expanding the program in the U.S. market in 2017. In West Louisville, where YTF’s offices are located, the likelihood of youth participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is lower than other students enrolled in area public schools.
  • With your support, YTF made a Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York this September. Our commitment is around education and entrepreneurship, specifically using technology for at-risk girls in Nigeria. You can learn more about the exciting commitment in the press release here. (Plus see the photo below!)

Your support makes it possible for YTF to continue to transform lives, every day. Please consider making your year-end gift today. Every gift is one step closer to helping us make the most impact in countries where we work.    

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On behalf of everyone here at YTF and the youth and women who are at the center of our work, I wish you and your family a prosperous and peaceful new year.

To Impact,

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YTF Njideka Harry with girls who will benefit from CGI Commitment to Action

YTF’s President and CEO, Njideka Harry, pictured with girls from the Obi-Orodo community in Nigeria where YTF is implementing its Clinton Global Initiative commitment to action. Between 2017 and 2019, YTF is committing to providing education and technology skills to 6,000 girls at risk of human-trafficking across Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

All About Digital Education: A Technology Summit in Ghana

YTF Academy students at the Wezesha Digital Village, Nairobi, Kenya

YTF Academy students at the Wezesha Digital Village, Nairobi, Kenya

For two days in September, a group of high-level individuals are gathering in Accra, Ghana, for a summit with a mission: furthering the rights and interests of African women and girls through technology policies. The Youth for Technology Foundation’s (YTF) President and CEO Njideka Harry is participating as a panelist for “Digital Education and Skills,” lending her voice and expertise to help shape the conversation and provide actionable insights.

The “Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology,” taking place September 13-14, focuses on four areas: affordable broadband, women’s rights online, digital education and skills, and digital entrepreneurship.”

“Young people need more comprehensive education that responds to labor market needs,” said Harry. “A complete absence of skills of youth in Africa is a problem too, but skills mismatches seem more relevant.”

Harry continued, “We know estimates suggest that by 2020, over 60 percent of new jobs created will require skills that less than 20 percent of the workforce possesses. Since women and girls make up more than half of the world’s population and outnumber men in university attendance and graduation, they can make vital contributions to bridging the skills gap. But only if the right enabling environment exists.”

This event’s topic is a sweet spot for YTF. As an organization that uses the power of technology to transform the lives of disadvantaged people in developing countries, YTF knows that accelerating the achievement of gender parity is not just a fairness argument but an economic imperative. It is key to building a better world. Over 17,000 girls and women benefit from YTF’s education and entrepreneurship training programs in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda in 2015.

This is the first summit for the collaboration between the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the World Wide Web Foundation, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), the African Development Bank and UN Women.

A Message to the YTF Community

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July 11, 2016

Dear Supporters:

We know you are dedicated to giving children, youth and women, of all backgrounds, the skills they need to unlock their potential. In light of the events that occurred last week in the United States, we want to take a moment to reflect on the affected families and communities and to thank you for your continued investment in our collective future.

Our education model is one of cooperation, appreciation and learning to constantly improve. These are not only skills for a successful professional life, but characteristics that enable the next generation to value the experience and perspective that each person brings to their work, to their community and to the world at large. Together we are making tremendous impact to under-represented youth, particularly girls, and women with high quality education and entrepreneurship programming. Your continued support is helping to model for future generations, how to work with one another and value the experience each person brings.

As a community, we serve thousands of youth and women everyday and together they represent the beautiful diversity of the world we live in. Please know that you are appreciated for your continued support and the change you are helping to bring about.

To Impact,
NHarry_DigitalSignature

Njideka Harry
President & CEO

GirlsRock!

 

GirlsRock! is an after-school technology and health education camp for displaced girls in Soacha, Colombia. It is a program within YTF’s Soacha Digital Village. Soacha is located in the rural outskirts south of Bogota, and is home to as many as 6.8 million displaced people.

The last five decades of continuous internal conflict and violence have resulted in over six million people to be displaced or forced from their homes in Colombia, disproportionately impacting women and children. Many children are living in unsafe, violent communities and are at real risk of being forced into armed warfare, crime, sexual abuse and exploitation, and violence.

GirlsRock! integrates real and relevant issues in health, personal safety, and reproductive rights with the use of technology, teaching technology skills as well as empowering girls to better understand issues that can negatively affect them. Both result in increased confidence and personal empowerment.

Colombia has the worst teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America with higher rates for displaced girls. In Soacha, 30% of displaced girls ages 13-19 have been pregnant at least once. The minimum age for marriage is 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys. Child marriages and early pregnancies have a serious detrimental effect on the health, education, and development of the girl child. These are violations of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child and of Colombia’s girls and women.

GirlsRock! is for girls aged 12-20 years. Girls learn how to use technology to research, document, and disseminate information on issues related to sexual abuse, exploitation, reproductive rights, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, teen sex trafficking, and adolescent pregnancy. It improves academic performance, competencies (communication, teamwork, time management, problem solving, and confidence) and positive learning attitudes through the use of e-learning and digital research tools. It promotes emotional well-being and intellectual growth of girls to take ownership and responsibility of their lives in a learning environment that fosters no bias in attitudes towards girls.

Through YTF’s innovative curriculum, they learn how to use technology to create positive change.

YTF Supports Africa Code Week

 The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) announced their role as a network partner for Africa Code Week, happening October 1-10. Two YTF staffers also serve as ambassadors for the initiative, including Joseph Kamau in Kenya and Chibuike Egejuru in Nigeria. Africa Code Week hosts workshops across 17 countries this week, and YTF will host training in both Kenya and in Nigeria. 

Hundreds of coding workshops will be held across Africa, bringing training opportunities to 20,000 youth, ages 8 to 24.

The project launched in June, and spent four months gearing up with registration, partnership agreements and activity planning. Following the early October Africa Code Week, an “Hour of Code” on December 4 will feature follow-up workshops held in several countries.

“This initiative reflects a huge need across Africa, and we are proud to lend our experience and staff to such an important effort,” said YTF President Njideka Harry. “Joseph and Chibuike are both talented and passionate in helping youth gain technology skills, and Africa Code Week is the perfect intersection to help further their work through YTF.”

Africa Code Week’s mission is “To empower future generations with the coding tools and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors of Africa’s economic development.”

 

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YTF Changing Lives in Colombia: Students Share Impact of GirlsRock!

 

Last August in Soacha, Colombia, we kicked off GirlsRock!, a program that empowers girls to use technology to promote their well-being and health, with a focus on reproductive health.   

Impacts from GirlsRock are expected to ripple far beyond an individual girl’s health and well-being. In addition to healthier families overall, YTF aims to boost participants’ socioeconomic status through fewer marriages for girls. Looking at the wider community and career fields, GirlsRock! students should be ready to step up participation in local governance and be empowered to help make important decisions in their own communities. The program also aims to help mold GirlsRock! participants into a set of powerful education leaders for the future.

Soacha has one of the most vulnerable youth populations in Colombia and many of our students come from single mother households. Many don’t have access to adequate technology education, so we’re inspiring girls to use technology as a tool to empower themselves.

148 girls are participating in the GirlsRock! program, and we’re so excited to see the level of enthusiasm in our students.    

Pictures from our first training session

Pictures from our first training session

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Meet our GirlsRock! students.

 

“So far, I think it’s a very cool class as we’re learning important things such as valuing ourselves as girls. They’re also teaching us on the importance of pregnancy prevention and harmful effects of drug use. I’m also learning how to make PowerPoint presentations.”

 

 “I love GirlsRock! because I’m learning new things. I’m learning Microsoft tools such as PowerPoint – it’s fun learning to make presentations! I’m also learning how to use social media to empower myself.”

We’ll be sharing updates on the program on social media, so stay tuned!    

 

A How-To Guide: Building Partnerships with Credible Organizations

 

An employee is at their best when they are at the right job with right organization or company, and I’m lucky enough to have found the right fit. It’s been three years since I started working with the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) as a Program Coordinator for the Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs and Mobile Value Added Services Program. The program is designed to provide women entrepreneurs with broad-based training, specifically business skills and financial capabilities, to help them strengthen and scale their businesses.

So what have I learned from my time at YTF? First, I’ve had the chance to really shape my career as a development worker. Despite my educational background as a social worker, YTF has helped cultivate a terrific skill of finding and engaging different partners locally for our gender-based programs. This is a role I enjoy playing.

Ifeoma pictured with our women entrepreneurs trainees from Taraba State, Nigeria.

Ifeoma pictured with our women entrepreneurs trainees from Taraba State, Nigeria.

A Partnership Philosophy

Those in similar program coordinator positions may wonder why I find it easy to find and engage partners within a short period of time, especially when many other organizations find it difficult to get a right partner for their project. At YTF, we work hard to build incredible relationships with likeminded organizations. We view every organization we work with as a partner, coming alongside YTF’s work as a critical support. That is why we sacrifice everything to create success with every partnership agreement we enter into.

It is very crucial to build a strong and sustainable partnership with credible and appropriate organizations. A thorough understanding of your program and programmatic goals typically creates a strong instinct and decision process on who to partner with to achieve success. There are plenty of benefits to bringing together a successful partnership. Each organization brings something unique to the table and learns something different when they enter into a partnership. Plus, the scope of each organization is expanded exponentially as more people get to know  each organization in new locations and each partner builds a stronger network.

Finding and Cultivating New Partnerships

At YTF, we’ve discovered partners are easy to find. Many are waiting to see who will call or email – it just takes the first outreach. Many of our new partners come by recommendations from current partners.

Knowledge of your program will guide you into getting the right partner. First, it’s critical to look for the partner whose organization has a similar mission to the program you manage. Second, don’t rely on a potential partner’s self assessment about their capability. Rather, a solid knowledge of the program and your needs, plus thorough research about the partner, will determine their credibility.

Criteria Checklist

When you first contact a potential partner, there are key characteristics you should look for to determine their credibility. Here are some of my top evaluation steps I go through in the due diligence process before recommending an organization as a new partner for YTF.

  • Website: The organization must have a website for you to research their activities to understand their mission and vision.
  • In-Person Meeting: The potential partner must have a physical and functioning office. Visit the organization to see things for yourself. Don’t be in a hurry when you visit and find out as much as you can about them by interacting with the staff and everybody you come in contact with. I try to see myself as a staff member in their organization and work with them for the day to get a true sense of how they work.
  • Relationships over Revenue: The partner’s core interest must be on building a relationship with you and not financial compensation from the program. I’ve found some organizations are driven by the financial benefit instead of identifying with other partners.
  • Experience: The partner must have a track record of successfully carrying out similar projects with the types of clients you are seeking.  This experience will help you ascertain how knowledgeable the partner is about your program’s concepts and how well they can perform. 
  • Practical Functions: The partner must have the ability and capability to reach out to the expected client; in many cases the youth and women we work with
  • Externally Vetted: Their organization must be credible NGO registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Nigeria, for instance, or equivalent vetting organization, and have a corporate bank account.

The best part about building a strong partnership is creating a thriving environment for your organization to function, especially by reaching new locations where you are not based. My work at YTF is not only inspired by the participants I interact with every day, but also the beneficiaries I’ve learned about  by getting to know our partner organizations and learning what they do to impact people’s lives. 

Ifeoma with our women entrepreneurs trainees from Taraba State, Nigeria.

Ifeoma with our women entrepreneurs trainees from Taraba State, Nigeria.

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Ifeoma Isiogu is writing from YTF in Nigeria where she is a Project Coordinator for YTF’s Gender & Entrepreneurship Programs.  With an educational background in social work, Ifeoma is passionate about working with women and youth to educate them on ways in which to advance their businesses through financial education, networking and business skills.