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Youth Democracy and Governance Cross-Sectoral Initiative

Looking for more? Check out the Practitioner’s Guide to using social and behavior change to increase youth leadership and political participation!

The CEPPS Youth Democracy, Human Rights and Governance Cross-Sectoral Initiative (Youth DRG CSI) is a multi-phased program exploring and uncovering promising practices that advance the political participation, representation, power, and leadership of young people in decision-making positions and processes. Starting in 2020, the initial phase of the project was a virtual discussion and knowledge-sharing forum dedicated to helping practitioners, donors, and young leaders across sectors explore the challenges and opportunities impacting cross-sectoral leadership and participation. The current phase of the initiative aims to better equip young leaders and practitioners with tools to implement programming that leverages young people’s assets and leadership across sectors to foster sustained and inclusive democratic outcomes.

Read the Cross Sectoral Initiative One-Pager!



Check out the Cross-Sectoral Initiative Toolkit! An interactive guide for youth development practitioners and young leaders implementing programs to support young people in gaining political knowledge and assuming political leadership. A print version of the toolkit is also available here.

Young people’s participation in public life is largely driven by specific issues or interests. This requires working across development sectors to better engage young people on issues they care about, while also connecting them to spaces for decision-making and political participation. Research suggests that young people prefer more informal, grassroots forms of participation. However, if young people only engage with democracy through informal avenues, they will continue to be left out of critical decision-making processes, resulting in policies and practices that do not meaningfully represent them. That is why it is important to coordinate resources, networks, and expertise across sectors to address the complex development challenges young people face and amplify their leadership and representation.

In response to the current trends in youth participation and development, the Youth DRG CSI:

  • Identifies and deliberates trends and challenges impacting youth political participation;
  • Expands existing knowledge on youth-focused, cross-sectoral programming and social behavior change (SBC)-informed interventions;
  • Engages young leaders through a Youth Advisory Group platform to provide input and feedback on program deliverables;
  • Identifies good practices for employing intersectional approaches in youth programming; and
  • Contributes to new and existing efforts to develop Positive Youth Development-informed initiatives across sectors.


Find more information on the monthly briefs here


Final Phase 1 CEPPS DRG CSI Report

Over the course of phase 1 of the initiative, CEPPS identified four key cross-sectoral challenges, including:

  1. Limited examples of youth-specific cross-sectoral approaches;
  2. Exclusionary structures that limit young people’s access to decision-making;
  3. Prohibitory attitudes, beliefs and social norms transcend sectors and have a direct impact on young people’s agency and opportunities to participate; and
  4. Insufficient understanding of how complex socio-economic problems are shaped by formal and informal power dynamics.

Recognizing these cross-sectoral challenges, CEPPS identified the following seven key recommendations to support the implementation of cross-sectoral youth programs.

  1. Leverage existing resources to invest in cross-sectoral programs;
  2. Leverage existing relationships to build cross-sectoral partnerships;
  3. Co-design cross-sectoral initiatives in partnership with young people using an intersectional PYD framework;
  4. Train youth leaders across development sectors and integrate “soft skills”;
  5. Enact quotas to lower the age of eligibility for participation;
  6. Expand non-DRG practitioners’ understanding of informal political participation; and
  7. Allocate resources to monitor and evaluate cross-sectoral youth programs.

CEPPS has continued to build upon these lessons and recommendations in subsequent phases of the initiative to develop resources and continue discussions that support youth-focused cross-sectoral programs.



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