Steve Cumming September 21 2015

2015-2016 Youth Think Tank

Youth Think Tank member, Collins Kimaro, 21, from Tanzania

Youth Think Tank member, Collins Kimaro, 21, from Tanzania

The MasterCard Foundation, in partnership with Restless Development, is excited to introduce the 2015-2016 MasterCard Foundation Youth Think Tank.

More than 300 young people from across East Africa applied to be part of this committed group of young leaders, completing a rigorous application and selection process.

Now in its third year, this is our largest and most ambitious Think Tank to date. It includes representatives from MasterCard Foundation partners such as BRAC, TechnoServe, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), Education Development Centre (EDC), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Development, Research and Training (DRT), CAP-Youth Empowerment Institute and Restless Development, as well as other young people not affiliated with our partners.

This exceptional group of 16 young women and men range in age from 21 to 24, come from rural and urban areas and have a diverse set of educational and employment backgrounds. What unites them is a commitment to contributing to their communities and understanding the challenges and opportunities facing young people as they enter the labour market.

The Youth Think Tank will have a chance to meet in person three times from September 2015 to June 2016. Their first meeting in September 2015 will focus on research methods training and a broader understanding of the objectives and goals of the Youth Think Tank. Their second meeting in December 2015 will provide an opportunity for Youth Think Tank members to share the data they have collected within their communities. In June 2016, Think Tank members will present their final research report.

In the coming months, we will be featuring Youth Think Tank members’ profiles and blogs. Here are stories from two of them:

Kisa Kasifa, 21, is a youth mentor with BRAC Uganda. She wanted to join the Youth Think Tank because: “Through my participation with the think tank, I will be able to help people in my community move forward.”

Collins Kimaro, 21, is from Tanzania and recently completed his Bachelor of Science in Economic from Warwick University. He has also completed a dissertation addressing the effect of ethnic diversity on democracy in Africa. He joined the Think Tank because: “Research from the Think Tank will be able to guide policy and lead to more targeted solutions and strengthen youth engagement across the country. It can also empower young people to take ownership of their development.”

Since its inception, The MasterCard Foundation Youth Think Tank has evolved. Its design is informed by the experiences of two previous groups, an external evaluation as well as input from alumni. Based on their feedback we’ve made a number of changes:

  • We’ve partnered with Restless Development, a leader in youth development programming with experience and presence across East and West Africa.  Restless Development will bring both technical expertise and dedicated staff to support Youth Think Tank members, as well as the ability to leverage their national offices and wider networks.
  • The number of young participants has doubled to sixteen, and we’ve focused the geographic representation to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania to sharpen the research and engagement focus.
  • Youth Think Tank members now include young people outside of Foundation projects who represent other youth-focused agencies and networks.
  • Youth Think Tank members will identify and prioritize their own research aligned with learning questions that inform the Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods strategy.
  • The number of in-person engagements will increase to deepen research efforts and expand opportunities for collaboration.
  • Alumni will continue to play an active role for future Youth Think Tanks and become part of a larger network.
  • Lastly, there’s an opportunity for partner organizations to engage with Youth Think Tank members and Restless Development to further develop and refine their own approaches to youth engagement based on best practices and support from Youth Think Tank members.

These changes, combined with the energy and dedication of the new Youth Think Tank members and the expertise of the Restless Development team, will contribute to learning that informs our partners, our portfolio of projects and our Youth Livelihoods strategy. Their efforts and contributions will also expand the youth engagement initiatives of our partners and other organizations across East Africa.

We look forward to working with and learning from this dedicated group of young leaders in the coming months.

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