Michigan State University received a $ 15 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development to serve 300,000 young people in Kenya and help create employment opportunities that can improve their lives and transform their communities.
In the USAID Project for Empowered Youth, MSU will partner with two other universities and youth organizations across Kenya to provide life skills training and seed money to enable young people to work together in ways that support local economies.
Kenya’s high and continuing unemployment rate disproportionately affects the livelihoods and well-being of people aged 15-24, a large part of the population. The economic climate can be particularly difficult for young people who have not received a formal education, who are disabled or who are at-risk adolescents.
“We often see young people, especially in Africa, as missing something instead of being great partners who can themselves lead the transformation,” said Leapetswe Malete, project director and associate professor at the MSU Department of Kinesiology, where he is also part of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports. “We need to change this way of thinking about the role of young people in society. If we do this in Kenya, we are likely to have an impact in the region and across the continent on how to effectively engage young people as development partners.
Building on previous USAID-funded work, the Empowered Youth project will leverage Kenya’s ‘bunge’ (Swahili for parliament), a unified network of local youth-led organizations, to strengthen its collaboration with governments. counties, non-profit organizations, private sector partners and higher education. MSU will work closely with Egerton University, EGU and United States-Africa International University , USIU, to offer skills development workshops, internships and apprenticeships in industries such as agribusiness and information technology.
“MSU has a long heritage of global engagement, which means we are focused on creating livelihoods for young people not only here on our campus but around the world,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. ., MD “By helping young people in Kenya achieve its aspirations, the USAID Empowered Youth Project will support our mission to apply skills in ways that transform communities and ultimately help create a more sustainable and sustainable world. more prosperous for all.
The interdisciplinary project engages several partners at MSU, including the College of Education; the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Global Innovations in Development, Education and Scholarship, or Global IDEAS; the Global Network for the Advancement of Youth; and the Center for Gender in the Global Context. EGU and USIU are members of Alliance for African Partnership, a consortium founded by MSU which includes MSU, 10 leading African universities and a distinguished network of African research institutes.
Other key partners, the National Youth Bunge Association and the National Association of Cooperative Enterprises Cooperative League of the United States of America, will play an important role in mobilizing young people from six counties in the first year and will later expand to 20 more counties.
Over five years, the project will strengthen the capacity of local partners to serve larger, particularly vulnerable and diverse groups of young people through peer mentoring, skills building and information sharing. It will gradually transfer responsibility to local champions and systems, increase buy-in from county government and the private sector, and encourage participation in supporting youth initiatives.
“The voices and actions of young people matter. USAID’s youth policy and programming recognizes that young people are essential for development today and in the future. We work in partnership with young people and provide young people with the skills and tools to create and increase employment, ”said Mark Meassick, USAID Kenya and mission director in East Africa.
Over the course of the grant, up to $ 2.5 million will be awarded directly to young people in the form of small grants to launch their own innovative business ideas. Malete said these young people will have acquired additional skills necessary for success through training opportunities, such as leadership and problem solving.
“It will allow them to see these opportunities and fail, stand up and keep going,” said Malete, who has experience in developing youth life skills through sport in other regions of the world. ‘Africa. “We believe that many of these small projects will take off and that young people will be able to support them. ”
The MSU team also includes Amita Chudgar, Department of Educational Administration; John Bonnell, Global IDEAS; Felix Kwame Yeboah, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics and Global Network for the Advancement of Youth; Abou Traoré, Department of Community Sustainability, MSU; and Marcy Hessling O’Neil, Department of Anthropology, MSU.
“Drawing on such a range of talents and commitments, I am delighted to see the impact of this project among young people, educators and community members in Kenya, as well as among the MSU community,” said Ann Austin, Acting Dean of MSU College. education. “This project demonstrates MSU’s commitment to continuing a long tradition of collaboration in a global context designed to make real differences in the lives of individuals and the experiences of communities.”
USAID is the US government’s premier agency for international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people move beyond assistance.