Building the Youth Development Evidence Base

The Challenge

The traditional approach to improving youth outcomes is to identify problems such as teen pregnancy, school drop-out or unemployment, and to then narrowly address corresponding youth needs for information and services. In recent years, however, program implementers, funders, and policymakers have recognized the importance of understanding and building on young people’s assets and abilities, which are integral to long-term positive behaviors as youth transition into adulthood. This approach, which also works across sectors to holistically address youth needs, is known as positive youth development (PYD). Though it is promising, there is limited research and evaluation of PYD programming in low- and middle-income countries, and few studies have examined the relationship between positive youth development and sector-specific outcomes for youth.

The Opportunity

To address this gap, the USAID-funded YouthPower initiative seeks to support youth-led and youth-serving institutions and engage young people, their families, and communities so that youth can reach their full potential. More specifically, YouthPower Learning is generating and disseminating knowledge about the implementation and impact of positive youth development through research and evaluation. YouthPower Learning also promotes engagement and informs the global community about how to help young people transition into productive, healthy adults.

Our Progress

Along with other YouthPower Learning consortium partners, R4D is conducting a systematic review of positive youth development literature in low- and middle-income countries to examine how PYD approaches have been implemented globally and across sectors. This review will also inform USAID’s youth in development investments to transform from single-sector, problem-focused responses into cross-sectoral PYD investments that help countries holistically support youth. R4D also supports YouthPower’s Learning Networks, which connect various global stakeholders engaged in PYD and improving outcomes for youth. Specifically, R4D leads YouthPower Learning’s Cross-Sectoral Skills Community of Practice of over 240 members to share knowledge and best practices in fostering youth skills development.

R4D Digital Communities

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