The Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF) supports youth-led organizations that foster peaceful and inclusive societies by providing direct funding to outstanding projects promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Established in 2008, the Fund responded to calls for action made by youth-led organizations around the world on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth. Today, the Fund is more relevant than ever: As the global agenda increasingly speaks of youth’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security, it is critical to support this participation and contribution through funding and partnership opportunities.
The funded projects are youth-led and youth-focused (18-35 years) but have an impact on entire communities, often involving religious or political leaders, policy-makers, educational institutions and media organizations. The Fund also links small scale and local work to larger movements for social and global change, for a broader and deeper impact.
UNAOC offers technical support and capacity building to the organizations during and/or after the implementation of funded projects in the areas of gender mainstreaming, media relations, advocacy, financial management, networking, sustainability, monitoring and evaluation.
Since 2008, UNAOC has launched four editions of the YSF and provided funding to youth-led organizations based in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe. A total of 43 projects were completed as of 2015 reaching a total of over 800,000 persons (youth and non-youth) in over 30 countries.
The projects funded by the YSF target young people from various backgrounds: students, marginalized youth, minorities, youth in rural or urban areas, youth in conflict or post-conflict situations, artists and activists. The youth-led organizations employ creative methodologies to break stereotypes, improve intercultural relations and promote a culture of peace:
- Educational activities, ranging from one-day awareness raising sessions to week-long trainings, peer-education activities, summer camps, as well as development of educational materials and tools and creation of networks of student leaders and youth clubs;
- Arts and sports as tools to address conflict in a non-violent way, to promote inter-community understanding and to raise-awareness about the dangers of sectarianism, extremism and radicalization;
- Media and social-media campaigns, video production for advocacy purposes and radio series to promote messages of tolerance and peace;
- Creative settings that facilitate intercultural dialogue, interfaith understanding, sharing of experiences and learning from each other in order to bring meaningful change to their society.