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About the Youth Leadership for Development Initiative
The Youth Leadership for Development Initiative (YLDI) was launched in September 1999 to study how young people benefit from involvement in civic activism and to discover new strategies and practices that youth development organizations can learn from the field of youth activism. The initiative was coordinated by the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development and funded by the Ford Foundation.
The Ford Foundation funded twelve community organizations based in the United States to be part of the three-year learning collaborative. The Innovation Center managed the initiative, selected sites with the Ford Foundation, offered technical assistance, and convened learning events with grantees.
The twelve organizations chosen to participate in YLDI represent a broad spectrum of youth constituencies, including African American, Latino and Latina, Native American, Asian Pacific American, low-income white suburban, young women, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning, faith-involved, and low-income Asian immigrant women and children. Their selection was based on several factors, including:
Through YLDI, the Innovation Center and the project participants hoped to:
A multi-year evaluation process (July 2001 - December 2003), conducted by Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), explored civic activism as an approach to youth development and assessed the needs and practices of civic activism organizations. The YLDI evaluation process was specifically designed to strengthen the youth development field by identifying and disseminating best practices and other lessons related to civic activism and youth development to help create positive community change.
The results of the Youth Leadership for Development Initiative offer a new vision for the field of youth development, civic engagement, and community activism. Based on the following lessons learned, the Innovation Center will create tool kits to share these practical tools with other community and youth development organizations: