Promoting effective policies and programs and advocating for resources to support youth worldwide.

Who We Are

Photo Credit: Child Fund International | Gambian Students March

AIYD | In Partnership with InterAction

“This youth population…is the new reality for the development and humanitarian community. It is true that with high rates of youth unemployment, inadequate education and a high proportion of young refugees, the world’s youth are becoming an increasingly large part of our programming, but what would happen if we thought of youth as more than beneficiaries? Can we harness the power and vision of the largest generation of future leaders?”


The Story Behind Our Logo

How should an organization dedicated to international youth development create its new logo? By inviting young designers from around the world to showcase their work!  



87% of youth live in developing countries. In the world’s poorest countries, 60% is the average percentage of the population under 25.

35% of the world’s 14 million refugees are young people between ages 12 – 24.

100 million young people are unable to find work today and 50% of 15 – 24 year olds are out of school.

Photo Credit: IREX | Rwanda Newspaper Vendors on the streets of Kigali

Youth is more than an age. It’s a stage of life. The most common international definition of “youth” – used by the United Nations and World Bank – defines youth as between the ages of 15 – 24, but this definition varies from country to country and can start as early as 12 years, and in some countries, can go as high as 40 years.

We define “youth” as more than an age. Youth is a stage of life when key transitions occur and a young person moves from childhood to adulthood. These transitions include significant physiological, psychological, social and economic changes when young people come to be recognized – and recognize themselves – as adults.

Today however, there are a number of social, economic and political obstacles that can delay a young person’s transition to adulthood. It is in this space that AIYD members work to ensure young people can overcome these challenges.

Over half the world’s population is under the age of 30, and in developing countries, where assistance is most needed, that percentage is even higher, at nearly 60%. Providing young people with the skills and opportunities they need to be successful learners, workers, citizens, and leaders, and actively engaging them in policy and program development, as well as local governance, will integrate them meaningfully into the political, economic, social, and civic life of their communities and countries.
Positive youth development means recognizing young people as assets and focusing our collective resources to tap into their energy and talents so they can realize their full potential and play meaningful and positive roles within their communities. 

There is a demographic imperative to address youth holistically in US foreign policy:

  • According to the ILO, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are expected to see the largest increases in youth population. Currently, South Asia hosts 27% of the world’s total youth population (about 300 million youth ages 15-24). Between 2010 and 2020, that region’s youth population will grow by 15 million. From 2010 to 2015, the number of youth in sub-Saharan Africa will grow by more than 19 million; and by 2050, Africa’s youth population will have increased by 182 million. 
  • UN Habitat estimates that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities and as many as 60% of urban residents will be under the age of 18.


Young people are affected by conflict and violence:

  • Young people ages 10 to 24 make up over 30 percent of the world's 42 million displaced by armed conflict.
  • Enrolment rates in secondary school are nearly one-third lower in conflict-affected countries compared with other developing countries, and far lower still for girls.
  • The youth literacy rate for conflict-affected countries is 79%, compared with 93% for other developing countries.


According to the IRC, youth in areas of conflict suffer both physical as well as emotional and mental harm caused by conflict. This includes the loss of educational and economic opportunities, increased health risks, and the death of parents and loved ones.  Despite these challenges, young people in confilict-settings demonstrate extraordinary resilience, with many becoming the primary breadwinners for themselves and their families. Nevertheless, their unique needs and capacities are often overlooked in humanitarian responses.
Effective youth programming involves more than the inclusion of youth as beneficiaries in traditional development interventions.  Programs must engage young people as assets whose capacity can be fully realized with training, skills and opportunity. Youth are already creative entrepreneurs, community leaders, and act on their own and others’ behalf. In conflict environments where the challenges for young people are even greater, they need our support. 

More Than a Demographic, Youth are a Strategic Priority

Young people must be targeted deliberately and comprehensively, which requires a specialized technical approach. Just as “gender-blind” activities may not serve to increase gender equality, programs that do not differentiate their approach by factoring in the age of beneficiaries may not ultimately be successful.  Youth policies and programs must reflect the diverse needs of young people and the integral role they play in the social and economic well-being of their communitiesnow and in the future. Accounting for contextual and cross-cutting factors such as age, gender, disability, conflict, and culture is essential for effective and sustainable programming, and must be reflected in youth-focused initiatives and policies worldwide. Effective youth development programs empower young people to participate in all aspects of program design and delivery, and enable them to serve as change agents.
Critical support for youth in all aspects of US foreign assistance is both timely and urgently needed, particularly given the potential demographic dividend of today’s global youth population, the momentous youth-led events in the Middle East and around the world this past year, and the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment, health and local and regional conflicts that impact the lives and prospects of today’s youth. With over half the world’s population under the age of 30, whether directly or indirectly all foreign assistance programs are related to improving the lives of youth. Our collective future rides on their success. 

Learn More from Our Community

Read: Expanding Opportunities for Youth in the new Foreign Assistance Briefing Book (FABB) 2013

Contact an expert: our members work around the world and across all sectors of youth development. We can connect you. Contact us at: ssladen@interaction.org




  • Advocate  We advocate for informed and targeted investments for youth worldwide. We believe that the international donor community, global businesses, governments and youth must act in partnership to significantly increase investments in programs that support young peoples' ability to engage in productive livelihoods, become active members of their communities and make responsible decisions for themselves and their families.
  • Practice  Our members work on the frontlines of youth development. Around the world and across all sectors of international development and humanitarian assistance, our members' programs target youth through interventions focused on health, livelihoods, workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial services, leadership and civic engagement.
  • Learn  We provide a year-round forum for the youth development and community to connect, engage and contribute to new learning on youth policy and practice. The challenges that impact youth affect all of us. Finding solutions demands collaborative thinking and collective action to address the scale of teh challenges facing young people worldwide.
Our Shared Approach to Youth Development

Photo Credit: RTI | Senegal & Sierra Leone

  • All young people have the right to contribute directly to the policies and programs that affect their lives. Across all sectors of youth development, we regard young people as essential leaders, partners and implementers, not just recipients, to ensure that policies and programs meet their needs.

  • Young people are assets in the political, economic, social and cultural development of their countries. Positive youth development means recognizing youth as assets and focusing our collective resources to tap into young peoples’ energy and realize their full potential.

  • Youth policies and programs must reflect the diverse needs of young people. Accounting for contextual and cross-cutting factors such as age, gender, disability, conflict, and culture is essential and must be reflected in the programs and policies we implement with young people worldwide.

  • Our impact is greater when we work collectively. Youth comprise half of the world’s population—the scope and complexity of youth development work therefore requires partnerships and collaboration to achieve the scale of impact needed, and to ensure best practices are widely understood and shared. We engage as a community of practice to foster knowledge development, collaboration and innovation across the field of youth development. And we believe that everyone has a critical part to play: the public and private sector, civil society, thought leaders and researchers, and above all, young people themselves.

  • Invest in young people, now. Just as advocacy must be linked to knowledge and demonstrated impact, so too must policies be matched with action. We use our collective voice to call for policies and programs that:

    • Broaden and create new opportunities for young peoples’ access to basic life skills, education and training that prepare them for the world of work and that ease barriers to social and economic independence.
    • Ensure youth who are not in school for any reason access to developmentally appropriate second chances to secure the education and life skils that will help them to succeed.
    • Promote young peoples’ full participation in civic life through inclusive approaches that enhance their voice in policy and service delivery.
    • Include youth as decision makers and develop their capacity as leaders and positive contributors to their community.
    • Account for the diversity of young people and reflect a clear understanding of these unique needs as they relate to gender, disability, conflict, and country context.



To promote effective policies and programs and advocate for resources that support youth worldwide.


AIYD Guiding Principles For Youth Development

The Guiding Principles for International Youth Development is the result of a collaborative effort by members of the Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD). The Guiding Principles reflect AIYD’s collective voice on effective practices for positive youth development across the sectors where we work.

Youth account for half of the world’s population (nearly 3 billion under the age of 30). Their enormous potential as leaders and innovators demands our support and significant investment. We must regard young people as assets and equal partners in addressing our world’s most pressing development challenges. In this context, youth development is about more than simply creating more skilled workers; asset-based approaches entail creating opportunities for young people that help them develop a sense of competence, purpose and empowerment.

The purpose of the Guiding Principles is two-fold. First, to establish a shared framework that better enables our community to critically reflect on our work as youth development practitioners and organizations. And second (and equally important), to advance the youth development sector by actively sharing knowledge, strategies and resources that support greater youth inclusion within, and across, development programs and policies.

No single organization can achieve these goals. Positive Youth Development by definition means that communities—entire societal systems—work together to include young people, and create a continuum of services and opportunities that enable them to grow into successful adults. This concept guides AIYD, and the Guiding Principles are our answer to that challenge.

Click here to view AIYD’s Guiding Principles

  • AIYD Co-Chair | President & CEO, IREX
  • AIYD Co-Chair | Senior Vice President & Director, International Development Division, EDC
  • AIYD Administrative Coordinator I EDC

The Story Behind Our Logo

How should an organization dedicated to international youth development create its new logo? By inviting young designers from around the world to showcase their work!