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Regional Youth Funding in Latin America and the Caribbean

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) — UN Human Rights Latin America


With the mandate to promote and protect human rights, OHCHR concentrates its efforts on the fight against poverty, inequality, and discrimination through monitoring and direct action. OHCHR works to ensure that national institutions, laws, and programs comply with human rights standards, that governments implement the recommendations of UN human rights mechanisms and bodies, and that steps are taken to allow groups that are marginalized or discriminated against to participate in public policy decision-making and monitoring processes. While OHCHR does not have youth as a specific priority, in the Latin American context, it is working extensively on issues related to public safety and violence, and especially on organized crime, drug trafficking, and juvenile gangs, all of which are significant youth issues in the context. In 2008–9, OHCHR had a presence in ten countries of the region. No information was found in the public domain relating to expenditure on youth-related programming.

UNESCO Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


UNESCO in LAC operates through its cluster, regional, and country offices located in 11 countries. Its mission is to assist the Latin American and Caribbean countries in the definition of relevant policy strategies in education. Its main goals are to increase the quality of education for all and promote lifelong learning; increase the awareness of scientific knowledge and policies related to science; address new ethical and social problems; promote cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, and a culture of peace; and build knowledge societies. Among its many activities, it supports a youth information portal for the region and one for professionals dealing with youth issues.

Youth Portal for Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAJU)


The Latin American and Caribbean Youth Portal is a joint initiative between CELAJU and the UNESCO office for the Caribbean. This portal is for the general public, but especially for youth networks, organizations, and groups, as well as people working with youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The website is an Internet meeting place, a network of networks of youth organizations and people working with youth, public and private, national and international, in all subject areas dealing with youth issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. The portal hopes to become recognized by professionals and leaders of youth networks and organizations. For them, it provides access to information in an open space concerning youth of today, tools for better use of information and communications technologies (ICT) for youth empowerment, a distance education space, and a convenient suitable commercial place.

The portal’s services include:

  • thematic supplements on violence, health, ICT, citizenship, culture, education, environment, volunteer action, work, and HIV/AIDS;
  • service of access to records centers and virtual libraries;
  • billboard of events by and about youth, by issues and countries;
  • access to tools to design and manage information through the Internet;
  • thematic forums, associated with leading activities in each selected theme area;
  • chat room and interactive dialogues, with thematic options;
  • e-groups and discussion lists, promoted by various networks and from the website;
  • technical and advisory support for networks and institutions specializing in youth;
  • international distance courses and seminars (e-learning) with network and website animators about and for youth;
  • news bulletins with news, opportunities, and miscellaneous information;
  • Latin American e-magazine for youth research and studies.

UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean


UNICEF activities in the region include policy advocacy and partnerships to protect and promote children’s rights, and to put children at the center of public policy, laws, and budgets. Its policy efforts focus mainly on applying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and providing support for the implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in the areas of health, education, HIV/AIDS, protection, adolescents, and public policies. It also has some important operational programs on and for children and youth. These include:

UNICEF Juventud opina


UNICEF works with adolescents through its program Juventud opina, which focuses on providing information to young people as a means of supporting their participation.

UNICEF “What Young People Think” Survey: Latin America


“La Voz—The Voices of Children and Adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean” presents the results of a regional survey conducted across 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The poll was supported by UNICEF country offices in the region and the Spanish Committee for UNICEF. Representing the opinions of 103 million children, the multicountry survey is the first initiative of its kind. The study took inspiration from Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which state that every child has the right to participation and freedom of expression.

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Latin America and the Caribbean


Providing guidelines for international volunteering, UNV is gradually growing in importance in Latin America. Following the United Nations Development Programme—mainly MDG-related—agenda, UNV provides opportunities and support for those young people who would like to be active volunteers in such areas as community development, gender, participation, and citizenship. It is expanding its program and outreach in LAC by developing relationships with civil society and local authority institutions.

World Bank in Latin America


The World Bank has successfully supported national youth policy development efforts in several countries through the Youth Voices conferences. In seven countries of the region, the World Bank is contributing to the development of national social and labor policies that are important to young people. A specific programming focus has been on youth at risk. The World Bank has one important grant-making program for young people in Latin America and the Caribbean, called the Development Marketplace.

Latin America and Caribbean Development Marketplace


Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program administered by the World Bank and supported by various partners that identifies and funds innovative, early-stage projects with high potential for development impact. Since its inception in 1998, Development Marketplace has awarded some US$40 million to more than 1,000 projects through global, regional, and country-level marketplaces. Using Development Marketplace funding as a launching pad, many projects go on to scale up or replicate elsewhere, and win prestigious awards for social entrepreneurship.

The 2010 Latin America and Caribbean Development Marketplace is focused on “Youth Developing Opportunity: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Sustainability.” Within this broad topic, three themes have been identified, and ideas are invited on:

  • the commercialization of locally produced biodiversity and agricultural products without degrading source habitats;
  • innovative approaches to income-generating opportunities for young people living in poor urban areas that are “hot spots” of crime and violence;
  • social and economic initiatives that contribute to the well-being of vulnerable groups.

The competition is open to organizations from any country in Latin America and the Caribbean. These can be NGOs, community-based or civil society organizations, indigenous peoples groups, foundations, or development agencies. Individuals cannot apply without a partnering organization.

Successful projects will benefit from three components of the awards. Small grants between US$5,000 and $15,000 will serve to further develop innovative ideas. Capacity-building support will be made available to finance capacity-building activities for the awardees. Finalists will be invited to the Latin America and Caribbean Development Marketplace and Knowledge Exchange Forum in 2010.