World YMCA launches 18 youth projects responding to COVID-19

Date: 27 July 2021


World YMCA has selected projects from 18 YMCA National Movements worldwide, for funding under the Global Youth Mobilization’s initiative to support youth-led responses to local challenges faced by young people because of COVID-19.

The projects, which will run for 6-12 months, cover areas like improving or addressing mental and physical health, addressing the impact of disruption to education, digital innovation and providing access to the internet, improving employability through support to livelihoods and financial literacy, vocational training and skills provision, vaccine awareness and other forms of COVID-19 sensitisation.

Each project will receive between USD 9,000 and 15,000, amounting to a total of USD 200,000.  As a part of the WHO-supported USD 1.2 million support for national projects, the Global Youth Mobilization initiative is investing in these types of projects through all of the Big 6 Youth Organisations.

‘We are delighted to make these grants’, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee.

‘We received high quality applications and screened them thoroughly. I’m proud to see the passion and versatility of the global YMCA Movement in the form of these brilliant projects from every continent.’

‘In fact, our young people worldwide were already at the forefront of the COVID response months before the Global Youth Mobilization was launched in December 2020.  So, in a sense, we are just giving them a further push.’

‘To all 18 projects: I wish you great success. We want good, strong, stories, because it’s with stories – and statistics – that we can strengthen our policy case for putting young people at the very centre of government and societal thinking in the post-COVID period.’

The Global Youth Mobilization was launched in December 2020 with one big aim: to change the narrative and highlight the efforts that young people all over the world are making to support their communities to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By supporting and sustaining investments in young people across the Movement, World YMCA is not just reducing the post-pandemic impact on youth and communities, but also investing in youth-led innovative solutions in communities across the globe.

These grants aim to provide young people with the skills and knowledge to make change in their local communities. Many of the 18 projects are co-created and co-designed by young people themselves, a key factor in driving measurable and credible interventions to ensure the long-term viability of the projects.

The projects are:



Global Youth Mobilization

YMCA Cameroon

Reducing the impact of COVID-19 on people living with disabilities

YMCA Cameroon is creating this project to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic on marginalized youth in the Centre and West. It does so in four steps. First, educate young people and raise awareness on hygiene. 300 young people with disabilities will be trained with COVID-19 measures in a language specific to them. Second, promote economic empowerment of young people while supporting entrepreneurship in profitable organic agriculture. 50 young leaders will build entrepreneurship skills on profitable agriculture. Third, provide psychological support to young people facing trauma. 30 young people with disabilities will get help through psychological support. Last but not least, provide financial support for affected youth starting or resuming Income Generating Activities. 25 young people with disabilities will develop small IGAs through financial support provided to them.


YMCA Ethiopia

Promotion of decent work for domestic workers during COVID-19

The project aims to provide intensive learning and COVID-19 PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for 420 domestic workers. These materials include masks, gloves, sanitizers and food materials. The pandemic has also limited the livelihood options of domestic workers. Given that many domestic workers have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the project also aims to reduce the negative impact through skills training and public awareness/advocacy to help them get their jobs back. This training includes cleaning, food preparation and skills to use advanced household equipment.


YMCA Ghana

Sustaining the young people in a post COVID-19 era

The core activities of the project are two-fold. First, organizing COVID-19 sensitization programs for at least 500 young people. A crucial objective of these programs is to disseminate important information about vaccinations. Second, organizing entrepreneurial skills training for at least 200 young people. For both parts of the project, the target beneficiaries are young people below 24 years of age who are living in deprived communities in the Greater Accra and Volta Regions.


YMCA Kenya

Enhancing youth resilience and response to the effects of COVID-19 

More than a year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, young people are still recovering from its impacts on their lives, their communities and their livelihoods.  The aim of the project is to empower young people to respond effectively to pandemic challenges and issues, while contributing to the economic recovery of their communities. To achieve this, the project will train youth in different areas such as mobilization skills, mentorship, life skills and COVID-19 prevention including demystifying the COVID-19 vaccines. Additionally, the project will implement mental health awareness activities to help youth and their communities develop coping strategies for various mental health conditions. Another important benefit of the project is that- through entrepreneurship skills training- youth will become more confident and competent in their abilities.


YMCA Nigeria

YMCA Educational Solutions (YES)

YMCA Educational Solutions (YES) was created in response to students from disadvantaged communities falling behind in their academic work due to the pandemic. The project empowers young people by increasing their competence and improving their chances of employment. YES provides training and learning opportunities for 2,000 secondary school students in Nigeria. Additionally, the project has a focus on community, connection and collaboration. YES provides opportunities for 100 young people to contribute towards pandemic recovery efforts in their communities.


YMCA Sierra Leone

Mobilizing young people for COVID-19 response

Young people can mobilize their communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Mobilizing Young People for COVID-19 Response aims to accelerate this process in Sierra Leone through social mobilization, campaigns against gender-based violence and raising awareness of the COVID-19 vaccine. This project will take 6 months. Social mobilization/awareness raising activities include training of peer educators, production of education materials and monthly radio discussion on COVID-19 prevention targeting 5,500 people. Campaign activities include organizing training sessions on gender-based violence for 50 young girls, providing counselling support to 30 young survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and supporting 30 victims of SGBV with small grants or capital.



Youth Volunteers against COVID-19

Youth volunteers against COVID-19 intends to mobilize young volunteers to assist or act as intermediaries in schools, hospitals, places of worship and public places throughout Togo. The project will include three core activities. First, to promote compliance with barrier measures in 10 schools, 7 places of worship and in certain districts (Lomé, Atakpamé and Sokodé) in Togo for 6 months. Second, to cultivate and maintain social ties with 150 vulnerable people (elderly, disabled, etc.) in those districts. Third, to raise awareness and inform the population on COVID-19 through digital methods to debunk false information.


Zimbabwe National Council of YMCAs

Enhanced Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Hub

Enhanced Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Hub trains two groups of young people. The first is those who have not had businesses or livelihood opportunities before. The second is those who started micro-businesses but lost scale, resources and financial capacity due to the pandemic. The project will take place in Karoma and Bulawayo. 100 young people aged 15-35 (40 male and 50 female, including 10 young people living with disabilities) will receive intensive support to create and manage income-generating businesses.


Asia Pacific 

Y Australia

World of Wellbeing

World oGlobal Youth Mobilizationf Wellbeing is a holistic approach to mental wellbeing that offers a sense of safety and connection for young people. Research shows that young people from minority communities (LGBTQI+, people of colour, those with disabilities) are more likely to have poor mental wellbeing: the project will therefore focus on ensuring that a “world of wellbeing” is accessible to them. A fundamental component of the project is the development of a Wellbeing Charter that helps to communicate mental “health” in a way that is codified and therefore measurable, making it easier to evaluate. Both physical and digital training support will be provided through a Wellbeing Toolbox to support young people either face to face or digitally. Together with the Wellbeing Charter and the Wellbeing Toolbox, a Wellbeing Survey will provide a self-assessment tool for individuals to become more aware of and proactive in their mental health journey.





YMCA Philippines

Education on Wheels Philippines

Education on Wheels Philippines provides learning resources and technology for out-of-school youth, including those attending public schools but experiencing technical difficulties. There are three objectives to this project. First, to provide an avenue to impart basic literacy skills (computer, arithmetic, reading and writing). Second, to minimize technical difficulties through providing access to the internet, gadgets, and audio-visual/printing materials. Third, to reintegrate these youth into formal education, either blended or in-person, by August 2021.


YMCA Sri Lanka

Y-Spaces: Spaces to shape the future

Y-Spaces: Spaces to shape the future is a six-month project that aims to create digital hubs and co-working spaces where 3,000 young people can engage in their work free of discrimination. There are three core activities of the project. First, an immediate upgrade to existing YMCA locations to reflect industry standard co-working spaces, so as to allow the program to run for a minimum of six months. Second, administer six locations under the YMCA ethos ensuring equality, access, affordability and charity during the six-month period with quantifiable standards of measuring success. Third, conduct sessions on personal and professional development (CV preparation, interview skills seminar, public speaking, personal finance, investment) with placements where applicable, while also providing resources to budding social activists to achieve their goals.



Global Youth Mobilization

YMCA Belarus

Life has changed, but it goes on…

Life has changed, but it goes on… aims to support young people in their efforts to raise awareness of the risks of COVID-19 and to engage the virtual community. The project also aims to empower young people through interaction in their communities. All local organizations will provide psychological assistance and safety resources. These include self-help training, distance learning and outdoor recreation. The project targets around 150 young people aged 14-35.


YMCA Scotland

YMCA Makerspace Digital Learning

YMCA Makerspace Digital Learning engages young people who have been disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic. In the rural areas of Denny and Renfrewshire, young people have been excluded from opportunities in technology, education and employment. Makerspace is an informal educational environment where young people gather to create, using digital technology to gain new skills and foster entrepreneurial spirit. The project will build on Paisley YMCA’s leading reputation in Scotland for digital innovation, replicating their Makerspace in new communities, using a co-creative system design approach to ensure that each is based on the needs of youth and their local communities. The ultimate goal of this project is to enable young people to become creators and contributors to the digital economy.


Latin America & the Caribbean 

YMCA Chile

Bridging the digital divide and access to education in times of COVID-19

The project is designed to help young people continue their studies at a distance during the pandemic, thus avoiding school dropouts. By engaging in three core activities, YMCA Chile works to ensure that this purpose is being met. First, establish two co-working, technology and education centers. One will be in Cerro Los Placeres in Valparaíso, and the other in Cerro Navia in the Santiago region. Second, generate safe workspaces, conditioned according to sanitary requirements and personalized for 200 young people from vulnerable sectors in which each technology center is located. Last but not least, to promote distance learning led by professionals who are experts in issues related to youth.


YMCA Colombia

Creative and Solidarity Youth

Creative and Solidarity Youth seeks to strengthen youth leadership by developing entrepreneurial skills so that they contribute to the transformation of their communities. The project seeks to mitigate the effects of the pandemic that have impacted children, youth, adults and families. In particular, it seeks to improve the living conditions of those who live in poverty, exclusion, or victims of the internal conflict and social violence that the country faces. Creative and Solidarity Youth will provide training tools in entrepreneurship to 500 young people aged 15 to 25. Young people will be able to formulate and implement entrepreneurship proposals that will benefit at least 2,000 people from their communities.



Get it! Youth and Employability

Get it! Youth and Employability has three objectives. First, to promote good decision making in young people that aligns their vocation to the demands of the current labour market in Peru. Second, to promote the development of “hard” (technical/professional) and “soft” (social, emotional, personal) skills essential for work. Third, to provide tools for employability, such as knowledge of labour rights, digital platforms and personal branding on social media. The project’s target audience is 550 young people between the ages of 14 and 20 who come from migrant families facing difficulties in meeting their basic needs.

Global Youth Mobilization


YMCA Uruguay

Prevention of depression in young people post-COVID-19

The physical and social distancing measures implemented to contain the pandemic have created a number of emotional challenges. 680 people including a group of young volunteers from the YMCA and young people from the Nueva Helvecia high school will be participating in this project. There are three objectives to this project. First is to generate workshops led by young people for young people. Second is to recognize the causes of depression and its impact on young people. Third is to raise awareness of the importance of seeking professional help for mental health issues.


Middle East 

YMCA East Jerusalem

Hope Makers

Hope Makers enhances the mental and physical health of young people in disadvantaged areas so that they are empowered to lead change. The project gives insight into the negative mental and physical health effects of the pandemic that plague multiple communities. The purpose of Hope Makers is to help young people overcome these negative impacts and empower them to help others in their communities to do so. The project is about standing in solidarity with those who are most affected by the pandemic, targeting refugee camps in the West Bank. Around 600 young people will participate: there will be 10 core groups (one in each refugee camp) and each group will consist of around 60 people.