Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched its updated Youth in Development Policy with a vision of a world in which young people have agency, rights, influence, and opportunities to pursue their life goals, and contribute to the development of their communities. The Policy aims to improve youth access, increase youth participation, and strengthen youth collective action to bring about change. Inclusive development is at the heart of this Policy, which promotes the inclusion of all youth, especially those with intersecting marginalized identities, to fully participate in decision-making as key partners.
As part of the Youth in Development Policy launch, USAID announced a new global small grant competition(link is external). Through this initiative, five youth-led organizations will have the opportunity to receive up to $10,000 each to pilot positive changemaking and research in their communities. This competition represents the updated Youth Policy’s call to increase funding for local, youth-led organizations.
In 2012, USAID released its first Youth in Development Policy—the first bilateral donor to do so. Over the past decade, USAID significantly expanded youth programming and youth integration across sectors. The Agency created a network of staff focused on youth issues and provided professional development training to better integrate youth into all USAID programming. Despite these advancements, the world is a vastly different place for young people today than it was in 2012. The mounting effects of climate change, increasing global economic and political fragility, and the stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced us to adapt our priorities to a changing world. The Agency’s updated Youth in Development Policy affirms the reality that young people are our strongest partners in confronting the long-term effects of these interrelated challenges. This approach, and the principles articulated in the Policy, will guide the Agency’s youth programs.
Implementing the new Policy vision will require a collective effort from USAID staff, youth, international partners, country governments, and civil society organizers. Most importantly, this vision necessitates a change in the power relationship with young people, as USAID actively shifts decision-making power to youth in addressing the most pressing priorities of the coming decade.