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The goal of the program is to increase the participation of youth in the local development processes of rural communities.
“Happy trash bins” project in Dilijan Eurasia Partnership Foundation has been implementing a youth capacity building and leadership program called Youth Bank (YB) since 2007. The program is based on a model developed in Northern Ireland to help youth overcome conflict and poverty. Youth Bank committees consisting of five to seven young adults aged 16 to 25 manage a pool of small grants ranging from $300-500 each for youth-led community development projects, with guidance and support from EPF. The young people are responsible for every stage of the grants award process, from needs assessment to small grant awards to monitoring projects.
EPF with the support of Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, US Agency for International Development supports ten Youth Bank committees across Armenia, with 80 young people involved as members currently. Since 2007, during the four grant-making cycles, YB committees have funded over 140 small-scale grant projects and implemented by their peers mainly in the regions of Armenia. Over one thousand young villagers have been involved in project implementation and more than three thousand young people volunteered to participated in these projects. The ten Youth Bank committees administer a grant fund of 15 000 USD annually.
YB is also a personal development program that builds young people’s self-esteem and confidence, and provides them with opportunities to learn decision-making, communication, negotiation, report-writing, event management, and volunteerism. Since EPF launched the program in 2007, the dimension of Youth Bank project has improved and expanded significantly. During 2010-2011, the Youth Banks members operated as mentors and assisted in the establishment of new Youth Bank committees, they learned and became advocates of charity and philanthropy in their communities. Apart from funding and monitoring a big number of grant projects, Youth Bank initiate a big number of volunteer and charity actions and projects in their communities.
Youth Bank program operates in several countries where Eurasia Foundation has offices, including in the South Caucasus by EPF, in Central Asia by EFCA and in Moldova by EEF. The program is used as a conflict transformation tool for bringing youth from different regions into dialogue and cooperation, especially from countries in conflict. The YB committee members hold joint meetings and experience exchange with their colleagues from other cultures. They develop inter-cultural skills and understand the importance of diplomacy when working with other youth across conflict divides. They enrich knowledge on local developments and youth activism through meetings with other Youth Banks from Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.