Youth-Led Solutions Initiative


In October 2020, World YMCA launched the Youth-Led Solutions Initiative (YLSI) as a response to the YMCA’s ongoing commitment to elevate and amplify youth voices, and provide agency for young leaders around the world. YLSI encouraged them to put forward solutions to tackle three of the greatest challenges facing young people today – the climate crisis, the future of work crisis, and the mental health crisis, which between them address multiple SDGs.

Through a series of virtual global summits and periods of intense community implementation in between, young people are learned, innovated, connected, and took action to drive change in their communities and help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Each Global Summit kicked off a new theme of action.

This marked a fundamental shift in YMCA’s approach, from providing services to young people, to empowering young people to provide solutions themselves. The Youth-Led Solutions Initiative wrapped up in July 2022 with a physical event at the 20th YMCA World Council Meeting in Aarhus, Denmark.

Youth-Led Solutions Initiative


Global Virtual Summits

LEARN AND CONNECT: The Summits kicked off months of intense action. First, young people from around the world joined interactive virtual sessions with global thought-leaders, experts, mentors, and other young leaders, to share experiences and build their knowledge about solutions that work. During the Summits, they explored systems challenges hindering progress and develop innovative solutions to initiate or scale youth-led action.

Local YMCAs in even the smallest communities supported young people’s participation in the summit, with everything from offering internet access to helping solution teams develop their ideas.

 Community Implementation

DESIGN AND SCALE: After each Summit, the young participants and their mentors worked together in virtual teams to design solutions to local challenges and drive achievement of the SDGs, using their previous knowledge and experience and the tools and relationships they gained during the Summit.

Each solution is pitched to a panel of global experts and funders with the chance to win investment funding and implement their solution in their community with support from the local YMCA.

YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on mental health & wellbeing, October 2021

YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on the future of work, June 2021

YMCA Youth Led Solutions Summit on climate action, October 2020