Many youth in Latin America and the Caribbean are caught in situations where they are out of school, out of work, and deprived of a chance to gain the independence and the opportunity they seek for self-advancement. Today, they account for 25 percent of the total youth population, with 22 million youth unemployed and out of school.
As a strong advocate for youth, PADF works with local communities to ensure that they become stronger and more dynamic by providing the necessary protection and the right tools for them to succeed. This is why our initiatives focus on several areas, including employment generation, leadership training, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, combatting forced labor and human trafficking, crime and violence prevention, civic participation, among others.
Generating Employment and Income for Self-Reliance
Employment generation is one of PADF’s main priorities so as to enable self-reliance. Using a variety of approaches, our programs help support micro and medium-size businesses, provide skills training to youth and vulnerable people, improve agricultural conditions and techniques, expand and improve local infrastructure and focus on natural resources conservation. To assure maximum benefits, we work with local residents who are disadvantaged because of economic disparity, civil conflict, racial or ethnic prejudices and lack of access to basic opportunities, ensuring that our programs create the essential conditions for sustainable economic growth.
Combating Trafficking in Persons, Community-based Violence and Gang Activities
PADF works to strengthen networks among civil society groups to build their capacity to combat violence on the community level, including domestic servitude of children, violence and torture, rape and abuse of women, gender-based violence and labor exploitation of youth. This support enables civil society organizations that lead national networks to train smaller organizations, improve violence data collection systems, and systematize and disseminate this information at the community level and for public policy design. It also helps to link organizations with government entities that are responsible for assuring adherence to laws so that citizens have the confidence in the judicial system to report crimes and seek assistance.
Aiding Youth At-risk of being recruited into Gangs and Criminal Activities
In areas where children and youth are at risk of being recruited by armed groups and gangs, PADF develops programs that ensure that youth are protected and have better access to education, skills training, and job opportunities. Our programs focus on nurturing an environment that reduces children’s and youth’s vulnerability to illegal activities, using recreation, sports, art, culture, educational strengthening, and leisure activities to foster personal growth.
Building Social Capital, Resilient Communities, and Neighborhoods
PADF knows that building strong communities requires engaging people of diverse backgrounds and ages in a community and empowering them to face a wide range of development challenges. This is why PADF develops programs that include capacity-building classes, training and awareness-raising of key issues that are relevant to communities. These include violence, child and youth exploitation, human trafficking, human rights, discrimination, labor rights, disaster mitigation and preparedness and many others.
Enhancing Democratic Values and Civic Practices
PADF encourages greater learning about human rights and democratic values through formal and informal training and activities that engage a cross-section of the population, among them youth, women and vulnerable groups. Our initiatives leverage innovative techniques including arts, social media tools and other interactive opportunities to promote discussion and collaboration. PADF also works with journalism students, citizen journalists, and professionals to foster better journalistic practices, promote balanced and objective media coverage of critical issues, develop innovative media outlets and increase awareness of the importance of the role of free media.
Fostering Participation and a Culture of Lawfulness
PADF is keenly aware that strengthening the social fabric is a key part of promoting respect for law. By fostering the participation of families, government officials, law enforcement and civil society, our programs teach communities that each member has a personal role in creating and overseeing the implementation of the laws, and preventing crime and corruption. PADF, therefore, believes in working with children and youth, because school-based programs have a ripple effect, influencing not only students, but also teachers, parents, local government officials, neighborhood associations and the community at large.