"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
Since Youth for Technology Foundation's (YTF) founding 10 years ago, we have spent every moment of this decade investing in the extraordinary potential of disadvantaged people living in marginalized communities in the U.S. and in Africa. Today, YTF has grown from an idea to bridge the digital divide in Africa to citizen sector, international non-profit organization, whose innovative programs span the area of health, technology, education, agriculture and entrepreneurship. In carrying out our mission, we work collaboratively with a global network of highly respected and innovative grassroots partners in the United States, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya.
We work quietly in pursuit of our mission and do not consider any expansion or program opportunities without first asking ourselves the question, "Is this the best thing for the people we serve"? If we are not able to answer immediately with a "yes", then we move on as servant leaders in our partner communities.
I often reflect on my humble beginnings, growing up in a developing country in Africa, a child of educators. It was during my career at Microsoft that I felt a compelling reason to do something. To give back. I knew I couldn't change the world, but that was no reason to allow myself the luxury of inaction. My parents both instilled me with a quest for education, and not just in itself but rather, education as a tool for service to others. It is on this foundation that I established YTF.
YTF is not about technology. We are, first, about people. At YTF our culture embraces differences and embodies the belief that individuals can change their communities, for the better, if provided with the right tools, resources and opportunities. This is our credence. We partner with community members to identify what issues are most important to them and then teach them how to use appropriate resources, including technology, to research, document and disseminate information about the issue.
Our beneficiaries are individuals in low-income and developing countries; youth and women, especially. YTF's LearNations connects young people via an "open classroom" in our community centers in Africa with their digital peers in the U.S teaching them to appreciate, understand and learn from each other. Yes, Youth Can!, YTF's action-based civic education program combines discussions, interactive activities, and information & communication technology resources to enhance theoretical knowledge and deepen youths' understanding of activism, civic participation, and the tenets of democracy. The Young Scientists Tele-Academy teaches youth to address health realities such as HIV/AIDS, water sanitation and environmental erosion by providing them with the tools they need to learn more about the issue and be advocates in their communities around this issue.
From the standpoint of initiating and leading educational change, our programs demonstrate how much can be done with very limited resources but when the vision is clear and the team is driven by a strong sense of moral purpose. This is YTF.
At YTF, we owe much of our success to our "family" - our beneficiaries, our staff, our board, our corporate and individual supporters and our amazing volunteers (over 100 of them) living across 5 different continents. We have made their individual lives matter while encouraging openness and creativity. We have often worked as a team – teaching humility by such disposition, rewarding character and virtue and in particular faithfulness and loyalty.
Building an organization is an ongoing process. While we are not perfect, we continue to be one of the most impactful organizations for years to come. We have had and continue to have our share of successes as well as challenges. We have made it a habit to share best practices, learn from our challenges and deliver. In our mission, we cultivate an entrepreneurial culture in young people by unleashing the potential for them to create, catalyze and take advantage of opportunities provided to them while remaining ethical.
At YTF, the journey to achieve our overt social mission has only just begun. We continue to focus on the fertile ground before us, to execute on meaningful work. All so that human dignity can truly flourish.
Thanking you for your trust in us.