We define at-risk youth as young people ages 10-24 living in precarious economic or social circumstances. At-risk young people live in poverty, face discrimination and/or live in excluded communities. Many face a host of additional challenges such as being migrants, living or working on the street, experiencing or having histories of violence or trafficking.
Youth in EM countries are a large and growing group, often constituting a third or more of their country’s population. They are filled with creativity, energy, intelligence and hope, yet many face challenges and circumstances that stymie their growth and prevent them from achieving even modest life goals.
This crucial time of transition—the journey from childhood to adulthood—is when youth develop skills and make decisions that will shape the rest of their lives and by extension, the futures of their families, their communities, their countries and the wider world. Adolescence and young adulthood is the time when they are most at risk as well as most “at potential”. Without access to the tools and abilities necessary to build a better future, value is wasted; hope is lost; and a vital generation is sidelined.
But, if, during this critical age, youth can learn useful knowledge for the 21st century, develop and practice skills to be healthy and to work with dignity, gain self-confidence and expanded opportunities for civic participation and service in their communities and to other youth, they will have the blueprint for a successful life.
At EMpower we believe that by supporting these young people at the most pivotal time in their lives, we can help them change their world—and ours.