USAID’s YouthPower Project was designed to facilitate cross-sectoral youth programming through Positive Youth Development (PYD) principles and practices, including building skills, assets, and competencies; fostering healthy relationships; and strengthening the enabling environment. In order to better understand the status of PYD after several years of YouthPower efforts, the HEARD-conducted assessment was carried out between June 2019 and July 2020, and examined:
- To what extent has the PYD approach been adopted/integrated in USAID YouthPower development programming and beyond?
- How has USAID’s YouthPower influenced the awareness and use of PYD in LMIC-based youth development programming?
- Building on the experience of YouthPower, what are lessons learned, gaps and future recommendations for cross-sectoral, effective and sustainable systems for youth development programs, and effective youth engagement within youth program design, implementation, and evaluation?
USAID and implementing partners are using the findings of the assessment to support efforts (including by YouthPower2 mechanisms) to further advance PYD within USAID programming and beyond. The assessment found that:
- Uptake of the PYD approach was perceived to be increasing within USAID and among USAID IPs, yet evidence of PYD implementation by government and local stakeholders was less apparent. More efforts are needed for broader national level understanding, commitment and implementation.
- Features of PYD implementation including youth engagement have been progressively understood over time. The more complex elements of PYD were reported to be less fully implemented, often because implementer understanding in these areas lags and the time, resources, and planning needed to adopt a truly holistic youth centered, cross sectoral approach to their programs is difficult.
- LMIC government investment in youth engagement is increasing, for example through youth advisory committees and designated funding, however a myriad of obstacles limit access and effectiveness. In many contexts, governments still see youth as a “risk” rather than as an asset for development.