SIF believes that long term, sustainable positive change is possible by investing in the skills of local leaders, and by strengthening their ability to organize and lead social change. The Central America Youth Fund (CAYF) will increase investment to Central America and support youth-led projects that directly reach 4,000 people, primarily women and girls.
The CAYF will provide grant support to projects being implemented by youth, for youth, both at the direct beneficiary level and the policy level in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Quintana Roo, Mexico. These projects will demonstrate measurable impacts on girls' equality and/or adolescent & youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), through programs such as outreach in schools to provide sexual education and programming to reduce secondary education dropout rates. The CAYF is particularly interested in supporting secondary education for girls - a critical need for women and girls across the region.
SIF will fund approximately four to six organizations per year, up to the ,000 level in Year One, and forecasts that the average grant size will increase in subsequent years. In addition, SIF will provide funds to organizations working towards new and better implemented and funded laws and policies related to adolescent SRHR and/or girls' equality.
For this project, SIF has established a grants advisory committee that will meet throughout the grant year to discuss proposals and provide input on potential grantees. Grants will be given to projects that are based on measurable data concerning the target population's needs in relation to adolescent/youth SRHR and/or girls' equality and that have a clear set of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) outcome objectives focused on measurable improvement in one or more of the target indicators. SIF will hire a CAYF Program Officer to carry out
Start-up phase, April - October 2014:
Key activities during the start-up phase include:
- CAYF accepts Expressions of Interest from potential grantees in the region
- SIF establishes a grants advisory committee for the Fund, comprised of leaders from the U.S. and Central America with experience in youth leadership and/or expertise in SRHR.
- SIF hires a CAYF Program Officer to carry out field site visits, support with monitoring and evaluation, and grants administration. SIF will also hire a young, Central American fellow to assist the Program Officer, as well as build their own leadership skills through supporting CAYF activities.
October 2014: First grants advisory committee meeting and grant disbursements to youth-led projects in the region
May/June 2015: Mid-year report will be produced between April and May 2015
November 2015: Annual report will be produced within 1 month of the year mark for all grants
December 2014/January 2015: CAYF will produce and distribute the annual impact report to donors and partners based on the first round of grants
2016-2017: CAYF will produce and distribute mid-year and annual impact reports in April/May and November subsequently each year.
Prone to natural disaster and scarred by a history of civil wars, Central American nations struggle with many realities: lack of basic government services, increasing violence, and limited economic opportunities. Marginalized groups, such as women and youth, are particularly impacted. For example, it is estimated that over 25% of youth ages 15 to 24 in Guatemala and Honduras are neither studying nor working (International Labor Organization).
Furthermore, with increasingly limited funding for comprehensive sexual education in the region, teen pregnancy rates are on the rise. According to a study by Plan International, one out of five mothers in Central America is between 10 and 19 years old; one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in Latin America.
A large population of youth in Central America, especially girls, lacks opportunities to pursue secondary education and access to adequate sexual and reproductive rights and health services. This makes them more vulnerable to high rates of gender-based violence, sex-trafficking, labor exploitation, early marriage/unions, and teen pregnancy, and is a significant driver behind immigration to the United States.
The recent immigration crisis at the United States' border has drawn attention to the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America fleeing insecurity, violence, and lack of economic opportunities. The Central America Youth Fund (CAYF) is a timely response to this crisis, and seeks to address the root causes of why young people feel the need to immigrate to the U.S., with a specific focus on gender equality
The CAYF is committed to providing grants to youth-led projects that will measure substantial positive movement in adolescent fertility rates, secondary school retention and/or early marriage, gender attitudes and behaviors of girls/young women, schools provision of comprehensive sexuality education, and availability and use of youth-friendly reproductive health services.
SIF is seeking both financial and in-kind partners to support the Central America Youth Fund. Interested partners could support the Fund in a variety of ways: 1) Media partners to highlight issues facing youth and success of projects; 2) IT partners to provide a grant tracking and monitoring and evaluation platform as well as training to the grantees around how to use the platform; 3) Corporations, foundations, and NGOs with experience in leadership development to provide project management training and educational opportunities for young leaders leading the implementation of CAYF-funded projects; 4) Funding partners to increase the number of grants CAYF is able to provide through the Fund.
SIF will offer funding partners the opportunity to invest in local, youth-led projects designed to impact girls' equality and/or adolescent SRHR. High-level partners may be invited to participate in the grants advisory committee as well. SIF is inviting other Foundations, grantmakers, and corporations to join them in this effort by providing support to the grant pool and/or in-kind support to ensure that the youth-led initiatives are a success, with a goal of reaching at least 10,000 girls and young women in Central America. Implementing partners (youth-led projects) will receive additional benefits beyond grant funding. The young project leads and their teams will receive training, technical assistance, and ongoing feedback from SIF staff in areas such as project planning, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation. They will also have the opportunity to develop a range of leadership skills that will benefit their career trajectories.