Note from IIYD:  The following is an excerpt from a discussion on the IIYD LinkedIn Group page.  Please get in here and give some perspective.

Here it is:

"On a separate note, I think this discussion and the two diverse perspectives represented from… an international funder versus (someone) representing an organization working with young people in the field bring up some very good questions for us.

One group of individuals involved in development work are looking at the macro: How can we best use the resources including funding that we have to create positive outcomes for young people?

The second group is looking at the micro or, better said, the local reality: How are the young people of my community doing?

For the first group, every additional positive outcome such as a young person graduating or exiting high-risk behaviors is a victory specifically when so much of what is invested does not lead to outcomes.  For the second group, these same outcomes are crowded out by the scores, hundreds, thousands and even millions of young people that we watch dying each day.

This puts the two groups at odds because the macro group’s excitement at investing better than ever before and achieving more outcomes comes with an optimism that is shocking, grating and foreboding for the micro, local youth workers.  ”If this is the best we can do or even if it is work worth celebrating, than millions will not make it,” is what they realize.

There are two additional issues here that go beyond transparency and fraud.

The first is that while we may have more investment than ever before and even additional outcomes, our theories of change are growing more and more disparate.  

For instance,  the academic work is churning out a tremendous amount of data showing that family engagement is not only vital to developing young people but that to engage a young person without engaging their families actually damages the young person’s future, specifically if he or she is an immigrant.  Unfortunately, the massive international mentoring movement is not seeing this nor embracing it meaning we are funding and programming in ways that are actually accomplishing immediate outcomes but that lead to horrific long-term outcomes.  Another example of this is the school reform movement that looks to solve every youth issue through expanding the services at schools and even at after-school programs without taking a look at whether they are supplanting the family’s role.  The NGO world shouts out that engaging families is difficult.  The issue is that it doesn’t matter.  It has to be done or we are doing harm in place of good.  So these issues have to be wrestled with and advocated around to bring us into a point where we are working together including funders, academics, agencies, schools and families to build healthy, nurturing youth gardens.

The second issue is that while our data may show greater and greater outcomes, it is against the backdrop of a world that has a dramatically surging youth population.  In other words, our quantities served and impacted may be growing but the percentage of young people being helped is shrinking.  And what every one of us is watching in the field is the great horror of seeing drug dealers, pimps, pedophiles, promiscuous 14 year olds, abusive parents and predatorial marketeers and media specialists functioning together as a veritable machine in every neighborhood of every town of every country across the globe.

While we bumble toward cohesiveness, clarity or capacity, they are nailing it.  They are reaching greater and greater percentages of these young people that we have fallen in love with.

I have my own ideas of how we battle back.  This group is one of them and you raising your voice would be integral to that hope.  However, I want to hear yours.”

  1. iiyd posted this