What is a Youth Bank?
The purpose of a Youth Bank is to enable and inspire youth to participate and improve their communities while developing their own creativity, confidence, and organizational skills.
In order to qualify for a small grant, a group of youth interested in conducting a project within their community must apply to participate in a small training session. During the session they will be taught how to develop their idea, how to fill out a proposal, and how to create a budget. Then, a small sum of money is given to the groups of young people who have developed a well-designed plan to contribute to their community. During the entire process, youth learn important lessons about leadership, decision-making, teamwork, problem solving, event planning, and more!
Youth banks are about personal development as well as empowering youth in the community.
Why Are Youth Banks Needed in Ukraine?
The social system in Ukraine excludes youth from making important community decisions. The educational system dissuades youth from critical thinking, creativity, and independent thought. The end result is leaders who feel that leadership is a privileged position of control instead of a responsibility to their communities. Supporting and inspiring Ukrainian youth to create community projects helps to develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and leadership skills that Ukraine desperately needs. Youth Banks are huge investments in the future, with immeasurable returns.
How Does Our Youth Bank Work?
Bridge to Ukraine will fund youth projects in two ways: First, will be to directly fund projects using local partner NGO’s as a base of operations. Second, will be to fund Youth Banks setup by local youth NGO’s.
Directly funding youth projects
Many places in Ukraine find it difficult to raise funds for social development projects. This makes it nearly impossible for programs like a Youth Bank to survive, let alone thrive. By directly funding youth projects in these areas, we are not only investing in the youth and their ideas, we are trying to change the hearts and minds of community members who previously never saw young people as leaders. By showing small successes, young people will prove that youth-led projects can work, and are worth investing in. Even the smallest Youth Bank grant requires a small community contribution, which is easy to fundraise in even the most economically difficult regions. This encourages the community to get involved in supporting young leaders as well and to develop a personal investment in improving and caring for their communities. A small project may just change the mind of the community and lead to future community-funded projects.
Funding to establish new Youth Banks
In an ideal world, Youth Banks should be community funded. However, it is very difficult to raise more than a minimal amount of funds with no previously established results to show the community. That is why Bridge to Ukraine Inc. contributes funds to groups to start Youth Banks in Ukraine. Contributing to the start-up of Youth Banks helps raise local confidence, while also carrying out the mission of Bridge to Ukraine Inc.’s Youth Bank Project. Initial funding helps kick-start Youth Bank activity and helps it gain confidence and trust in the community. Bridge to Ukraine Inc. will work directly with a network of organizations throughout Ukraine who have agreed to sponsor and conduct training sessions for NGOs which want to take part in Bridge to Ukraine Inc.’s direct funding activity. Many of these NGO will have previous or current experience working with Peace Corps Volunteers and will be familiar with how to properly handle funds and train youth in the design and management of community projects.