Over the last eight months, the Youth Resilience Activity (YRA) has been working with local partners to implement small pilot projects with 470 youth across 17 of the cities where YRA operates. YRA is a five-year activity funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA that promotes positive youth development, especially among youth who face the most challenges in Colombia, such as disengaged child soldiers, former youth offenders, youth living in low socioeconomic conditions, migrant youth, and youth survivors of intrafamily or gender-based violence.

Some of these pilot projects, like those in Arauca and Buenaventura, are helping young entrepreneurs develop new artistic and cultural ventures. Others, in cities like Cartagena and Riohacha, are allowing youth to use safe, public spaces for dancing, mural painting, and other productive activities. And others are promoting psychosocial skills and healthy local networks among youth. Here’s a closer look.

Encouraging Social Dialogue in Soacha

Soacha is an industrial city just outside the capital city of Bogotá. Implemented in collaboration with Fundación Tiempo de Juego, the pilot project in Soacha focused on using games and dialogue as tools of social transformation. Through community discussions, psychosocial exercises, sports, and artistic expression, such as painting and singing, participating youth processed their feelings of frustration and fear brought on by the country’s social unrest. Together, they brainstormed strategies for peaceful and meaningful political participation. The project concluded with an event in which 70 youth joined local authorities from the mayor’s office, police department, and other institutions to play soccer, enjoy arts performances, and co-create proposals for future community development initiatives. ​​​​​​​

Creating Jobs for Youth in the Amazon Region’s Juvenile Justice System

In the Amazon region, YRA and its partner Horizontes Fundación para el Amor y la Salud fostered strategic alliances between Caquetá’s departmental government, Florencia’s mayor’s office, the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (Colombian Institute of Family Welfare), national police, and municipal farmers markets to promote jobs for youth in the juvenile justice system. The goal is to improve their access to inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic opportunities.

For two months, 50 young people developed business skills while producing and commercializing jewelry and Amazonian confectionary products for purchase by six public and private institutions. The project is also designing a resilience strategy to promote youth’s entrepreneurial skills for driving social change.

Showcasing Artistic Talent in Medellín

“We’ve participated in these types of activities before, but this one we really liked because the time flew by, and we were left thinking about who we are as youth . . . and how we communicate with each others.”

— Yerson Monsalve, a youth participant of the Son Batá project in Enciso, Medellín
Youth group Movimiento Urbano (Urban Movement) fromín’s Comuna 8 performed during the final pitch event.

In the city of Medellín, YRA teamed up with Corporación Afrocolombiana Son Batá to strengthen 20 youth-led arts and culture projects as avenues to economic opportunities. Through entrepreneurship training, professional mentorship, and encouragement from famous artists like Bomby and La Fiera Hip Hop, 40 young people gained the skills and confidence to propel their careers and affect social change. The project culminated in a live event, in which each group showcased their talents through a pitch competition.

Learn more about the Youth Resilience Activity.

Learn more about our work in Colombia.