Youth empowerment in Covid-19 times

Local YMCAs have stepped up support for vulnerable people hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in Latin America, with funding both accelerated and diverted to meet immediate needs for food and economic survival, mental health, access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and to critical services.

The 4-year-old YMCA-Global Economic Empowerment Initiative (GEEI) – overseen by YMCA USA and funded by Wells Fargo – reached over 10,000 vulnerable people in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, as well as the Philippines and Spain earlier in 2020.

As well as providing its traditional support in financial literacy, entrepreneurship training and support, and seed funding for small businesses, the GEEI also provided emergency aid, and significantly increased the numbers of people it was targeting.  It took this decision, given mounting Coronavirus caseloads in Latin America.- In Chile, YMCA Santiago distributed food (20 kilos a month for 200 families) and hygiene kits.

  • YMCA Colombia focused on four deliverables: humanitarian support, mental health support, youth leadership and empowerment, and financial education and entrepreneurship
  • YMCA Peru refocused the GEEI programme in ensuring food security, building resilient communities, and rebuilding entrepreneurship
  • In Brazil, YMCA continued to give financial education to young apprentices, moving classes online. It also provided emergency food baskets to some 4,500 people
  • In the Philippines, the YMCA partnered with local women artisans and delivered cloth
    facemasks, as well as food and hygiene products.
  • YMCA Spain adapted their Financial Literacy workshops to deliver them online with interactive features

Read the GEEI mid-term report for the period January to June 2020 (PDF, 1.32MB)

Speaking at an online ‘harvest’ event on 11 December which saw many of the YMCAs present and share their learning on these economic empowerment initiatives, World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee said: “Your testimonies are exceptional.  The Global Economic Empowerment Initiative is living proof of the fact that young people have stepped up and delivered as first responders in their societies in this terrible time of Covid-19.  The GEEI is a key part of our global YMCA commitment to youth empowerment, and to youth-led solutions.  It’s also part of a worldwide commitment to providing quality education, vocational training, and opportunities to young people, to ensure they have the experience and knowledge needed to succeed in today’s work environment.”

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