GDI-incubated Global Opportunity Youth Network (GOYN) recently published their second instalment of their ‘The Future is Young’ Learning Series, introducing their innovative approach to youth engagement. Their series seeks to lift up emerging practices and evidence around how community Collaboratives can deliver tangible economic opportunities for youth.
GOYN’s vision is that Global Opportunity Youth have equitable access to dignified and productive entrepreneurship and employment pathways.
GOYN’s mission is to mobilize Opportunity Youth and other community stakeholders to create collaborative, place-based systems shifts that advance equity and increase youth income, assets and agency.
GOYN’s approach to youth engagement is centered around youth agency. While GOYN’s ultimate goal is to increase access to dignified, productive and sustainable employment and entrepreneurship pathways for “Opportunity Youth” (OY) – youth aged 15-29 who are out of school, unemployed or underemployed – GOYN also knows that connecting young people to these economic opportunities is about much more than skills-building, employability training or jobs placement services. Supporting a young person’s well-being and helping them to develop a sense of belonging and purpose through meaningful engagement and action is critical to enable them to build the necessary agency to desire and work towards personal and professional success. It is that sentiment of agency, internalized and acted upon, that propels a young person to lead in their personal and professional lives, engage in their community, and shift their mindset from one of surviving to one of thriving. By seeing themselves as leaders, young people can start to influence positive changes in the world around them. Meaningful youth engagement also opens up a world of possibilities for adults and adult-led institutions. Youth perspectives and aspirations breathe new life into repeated conversations and inspire new possibilities by shifting the focus from asking “why?” to asking “why not?”.