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Youth Solidarity Fund
Ali Farhat , Editor | Aug 9, 2017
Topic category: Education for Peace

Programme Overview

The Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF) supports youth-led organizations that foster peaceful and inclusive societies by providing direct funding to outstanding projects promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Established in 2008, the Fund responded to calls for action made by youth-led organizations around the world on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth. Today, the Fund is more relevant than ever: As the global agenda increasingly speaks of youth’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security, it is critical to support this participation and contribution through funding and partnership opportunities.

Youth meeting point

Speaking for Ourselves

Youth can do

Tolerance Academy

Youth peer education and awareness

Promoting peace dialogue amongst youth

"I was able to relate to them," explains a young woman who took part in LIFE Nigeria's intercultural ambassadors' training. The training supported her in Iearning tools to promote understanding and peace among different tribal grows and religions in Lagos, and to share the lessons in her own words with her community. LlFE's project Intercultural Learning for peace is supported by UNAOC Youth Solidarity Fund.

UNAOC visited Youth Solidarity Fund recipient LIFE Nigeria in Lagos to discuss project achievement and lessons learned. Welcome to LIFE... Like our name says - it's more than just a job" says the team.

"LIFE was born out of the desire to provide a space for young people to make their own decisions and lead the positive change they want to see," says Abiodun Rufus Unegbu, Executive Director. LIFE believes in staff learning and development, promotes teamwork and versatility to go beyond the job description.

LIFE volunteers use dance as a tool to illustrate the possibilities of peaceful coexistence among Nigeria's tribal and religious groups.

The funded projects are youth-led and youth-focused (18-35 years) but have an impact on entire communities, often involving religious or political leaders, policy-makers, educational institutions and media organizations. The Fund also links small scale and local work to larger movements for social and global change, for a broader and deeper impact.

UNAOC offers technical support and capacity building to the organizations during and/or after the implementation of funded projects in the areas of gender mainstreaming, media relations, advocacy, financial management, networking, sustainability, monitoring and evaluation.


Impact

Since 2008, UNAOC has launched four editions of the YSF and provided funding to youth-led organizations based in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. A total of 43 projects were completed as of 2015 reaching a total of over 800,000 persons (youth and non-youth) in over 30 countries.

Today is a memorable day in my life. I never imagined sitting together with youth from the Marachi community to talk or share a meal. I have always considered them enemies and eating with them was a taboo amounting to death in my ethnic community. Today, I have seen a light. We all are human beings regardless of our backgrounds. I have been always [led to believe] that Marachi people are invaders who came to take away my opportunities, but today I have changed.

Kennedy Simyu

participant on Yaya Education Trust’s “Amani Caravan Project”, Kakamega, Kenya, 2013

The projects funded by the YSF target young people from various backgrounds: students, marginalized youth, minorities, youth in rural or urban areas, youth in conflict or post-conflict situations, artists and activists. The youth-led organizations employ creative methodologies to break stereotypes, improve intercultural relations and promote a culture of peace:

  • • Educational activities, ranging from one-day awareness raising sessions to week-long trainings, peer-education activities, summer camps, as well as development of educational materials and tools and creation of networks of student leaders and youth clubs;
  • • Arts and sports as tools to address conflict in a non-violent way, to promote inter-community understanding and to raise-awareness about the dangers of sectarianism, extremism and radicalization;
  • • Media and social-media campaigns, video production for advocacy purposes and radio series to promote messages of tolerance and peace;
  • • Creative settings that facilitate intercultural dialogue, interfaith understanding, sharing of experiences and learning from each other in order to bring meaningful change to their society.

While we were learning to break stereotypes, I realized how important it is for me to accept my own stereotypes without shame, and then question them before blindly deciding that they needed to be discarded. A very important concept I’m trying to internalize is that there is no single truth. As I see it, the only truth is to question. It is difficult to give up the idea that ONLY I am right, and truly accept that someone else is ALSO right. Even as I work on this concept, I work on staying away from passivity about other’s opinions; acceptance and understanding cannot turn into indifference.

Shatakshi Gawade, 25

participant of STEP’s project “I Am Not a Stereotype: A Journey through Photography”, Delhi, India, 2015


Countries where recipient organizations are based (2008-2016)

2017 YSF Recipients

The following 7 outstanding projects are currently being supported:

Tags: LIFE Nigeria, Youth-focused Organizations, Youth-led Organizations, Young Peacebuilders, Peace, UNAOC, Education, Volunteering
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