The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), alongside its independent trust fund, the MIF (Multilateral Investment Fund), recognizes that youth are key to achieving development goals and has been working with young people for over a decade. The organization coordinates a network of more than 9,000 youth organizations.
"Technology allows us to link our youth to the formal sector of our economies," said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. "There lies the key to Latin America's sustainable growth; the key to generating opportunities of the majority in our region and reducing poverty and inequality."
As part of the IDB/MIF-Microsoft collaboration, US$1 million was put forward by the partners (US$500,000 each) to establish the Youth Fund for Innovation and Social Action program across Latin America. The Fund seeks to broaden access to information and communication technology (ICT) and skills training for youth in the region, and provide them with the resources they need to succeed in developing skills for future employment.
In the first phase of the program, three calls for proposals were issued between October 2007 and November 2008 with over 700 projects submitted. More than 3,000 youth directly benefitted from the 18 projects in 16 countries selected for grants.
In March 2011 the Youth Fund entered its second phase, with the announcement of a further US $2.8 million invested jointly by the IDB/MIF and Microsoft. This new phase, entitled 'Youth Technology for Job Insertion Fund', triples the amount of grants available for youth training in the region with as many as 6,000 youth across Latin America and the Caribbean expected to benefit.
The second phase of the Fund provides for a wide range of youth training programs, involving life skills, leadership and job training. It aims to broaden information technology (IT) skills and economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Latin America and the Caribbean through targeted initiatives that contribute to the development of young people as individuals, increasing opportunities for them to acquire decent employment.