YTF Academy is YTF’s flagship program begun in 2001 in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria as the first digital village in Sub-Saharan Africa. Soon after that, YTF began operations in other Nigerian states and in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Colombia. Through the combination of education and technology, YTF Academy helps marginalized, low-income, underrepresented, and underemployed youth gain new and innovative skills, education, and training that lead to higher education, more advanced employment skills, new career paths, entrepreneurial business development, and increased workplace skills.
YTF uses a participatory approach for new sites and new programs, teaches and uses technology skills, promotes collaboration and creativity, provides STEM education, integrates the engineering design and scientific inquiry processes, and emphasizes human-centered problem solving and critical thinking for creating innovative answers to critical issues.
YTF Academy programs initially focused on youth but, in realizing comprehensive programming was needed to eliminate poverty, it expanded to five programs:
• TechKids (ages 8-12): develops awareness of technology applications in everyday life; demonstrates how real science works.
• TechTeens: ages 13-19 to pursue STEM fields; participants seek solutions to real-world problems in their communities.
• TechCommunities (ages 20-25): hands-on experiences and peer-to-peer learning empowers employee- or job creator-participants to be workplace or entrepreneurial business problem solvers and innovators.
• TechEnhancement: for individuals currently in the workforce but who need to develop or enhance their skills.
• 3DAfrica—prototyping, engineering, and maker spaces: begun in 2014, over 400 youth learned 3D printing, design thinking, and empathy-driven innovation.
As of 2015, YTF has graduated over 315,000 YTF Academy participants: 55% chose ICT fields, STEM careers increased by 75%, 90% were engaged in entrepreneurship. YTF has a high job placement rate with employment paying, on average, three times more in salaries. Employers say YTF graduates perform better than non-YTF employees; 40% are promoted within 3-6 months of graduation.
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CEI approaches in action
YTF conducts community-based awareness-raising, focus-groups, stakeholder and systems input meetings first to ensure programs meet local, unique needs. Local advisory councils are developed and sustained in each community. YTF’s work is planned, designed, and implemented in strong collaboration with government, civil society organizations, village/community leadership, grassroots organizations, schools, universities, corporations, and nonprofit groups representing those to be served. YTF conducts outreach to and recruits marginalized, poor, hard-to-reach, in-school and out-of-school youth and youth at risk for low-wage employment, vulnerable employment, and under-employment.
Currently, approximately 60% of all girls attending the program receive some form of scholarship assistance.
Monitoring & Evaluation
YTF contracts with an external, third-party Monitoring & Evaluation team to conduct quality control, program monitoring, and evaluation for every project and program. Responsibilities include:
• Conducting quantitative and qualitative studies covering both the participants and the providers
• Program monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
• Baseline needs analysis and reporting for program development
• Public opinion polling
• Data management and analysis
• Metrics definition and communication
• User satisfaction surveys and analysis
Evaluation strategies include a variety of assessment tools that not only show what participants have learned and their satisfaction with the program, but how participation in the program has positively impacted staying in school, going to university, creating additional sources of income, attained sustainable employment, earned higher wages, and attained promotions. YTF continuously meets and exceeds established goals, objectives, and outcomes.