In recognition of the United Nations’ World Creativity and Innovation Day on April 21, we’re celebrating youth in Colombia who are taking part in the Laboratorio de Innovación Social Adaptativo (Adaptive Social Innovation Laboratory), or LISA. The initiative, which launched in February 2021 in Quibdó, the capital of the department of Chocó, is a youth development accelerator that helps participants build skills and networks to amplify the positive impact of their own grassroots projects.

Participants attend technical courses, which are currently held virtually, in finance, entrepreneurship, technology, and other areas, complemented by soft skills training on themes such as empathy, teamwork, and communication. Each course arms them with a holistic set of tools and competencies to apply to their community engagement work. They also have the opportunity to receive mentoring from successful businesspeople in their chosen field.

Giving a Boost to Youth’s Grassroots Movements

There are currently 130 changemakers taking part in the program. These young people were selected from a group of more than 800 applicants and judged based on the social initiatives and development projects they have been implementing in their communities. Participants include young people who have taken part in the Program of Alliances for Reconciliation and the recently launched Youth Resilience Activity — both funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA in Colombia.

“I just want to say to the youth of Colombia: don’t give up. I know it isn’t easy to be heard. It’s not easy to create spaces for youth advocacy. I only ask those who have ideas and the conviction to transform our country not to give up, to persevere. And in that way we will come together and create great change for Colombia.”

—a youth participant from Colombia’s Arauca Department

Connecting Youth to Role Models

In addition to the technical and soft skills training, activities also include masterclasses and guest appearances from local celebrities and industry leaders who share their knowledge and encourage young people to pursue their dreams and positively impact their communities and beyond. So far, participants have been treated to a surprise visit from musician Tostao, of the award-winning hip-hop group ChocQuibTown, who shared words of encouragement through his journey to success from growing up in poverty. Participants also had the chance to take a masterclass led by Olympic gold medalist Mariana Pajón, who drove home a message of resilience and discipline when striving for one’s dreams.

Creativity and innovation are areas where youth thrive when they are supported. Today, ACDI/VOCA commends participants for their commitment thus far and looks forward to seeing what they will achieve during their time with LISA.

Learn more about Program of Alliances for Reconciliation.

Learn more about the Youth Resilience Activity.

Learn more about our work in Colombia.