The CEPPS Newsletter

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Youth Democracy and Governance Cross-Sectoral Initiative

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.

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


The Youth Democracy and Governance Cross-Sectoral Initiative is a discussion and knowledge-sharing forum dedicated to helping practitioners, donors, and young leaders across sectors explore opportunities and share promising practices that advance the political participation, representation, power, and leadership of young people in decision-making positions and processes.

This Initiative is intended to complement existing communities of practice and knowledge-sharing platforms to:

  • Fill a gap in learning;
  • Better cross-pollinate and coordinate efforts across the youth development and democracy and governance communities; and
  • Identify, strengthen, and promulgate approaches that foster meaningful youth political participation across sectors



Young people’s participation in public life is driven by specific issues or interests. This reality requires work across sectors to better engage youth 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 crucial decision-making processes, resulting in policies and practices that don’t 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 help amplify their leadership.

In response to the current trends in youth participation and development, the Initiative was created to:

  • Identify and deliberate trends and challenges impacting youth political participation;
  • Expand existing knowledge on cross-sectoral programming;
  • Identify good practices for employing intersectional approaches; and
  • Contribute to new and existing efforts to develop Positive Youth Development-informed initiatives across sectors


Benefits of Participation

  • Connect with young leaders and practitioners to contribute to dialogue sessions on addressing trends and challenges impacting youth political participation and leadership;
  • Identify lessons learned, effective approaches and updates related to youth political participation and leadership within a Positive Youth Development framework;
  • Enhanced ability to design, implement, monitor, and evaluate integrated youth political participation interventions within multi-sector youth programs; and
  • Network and build collaborative partnerships with other youth development thought leaders, practitioners, and donors across sectors


Monthly Briefs

CEPPS Youth Brief 1: Launch Event

Under the USAID Global Elections and Political Transitions (GEPT) award, CEPPS kicked off the Youth DRG CSI with a launch event bringing together practitioners, donors, and young leaders from across the world. This initiative is a forum and learning community for youth development practitioners to explore challenges and opportunities that foster meaningful political participation and leadership by young people.


CEPPS Youth Brief 2: Youth, Peace and Security

Young people constitute the majority of the population in conflict-affected countries and are often excluded from peacebuilding efforts and underrepresented in formal political structures. In December 2015, the United Nations Secretary Council officially recognized the positive role of youth in peace and security (YPS) in Security Resolution 2250, which urge states to both consider young people’s political exclusion and increase the representation of youth in all levels of decision-making. This requires analyzing YPS efforts through a democracy, human rights and democracy lens with the understanding that establishing and maintaining peace is inherently political.


CEPPS Youth Brief 3: Health and Humanitarian Responses

Young people are uniquely impacted by health inequities and related threats created by disaster, climate change, and disease outbreaks. The impact of health and humanitarian crises, particularly on young women and people with disabilities, is often overlooked, as is their power to make change and actively contribute to public health initiatives. Likewise, young people are often the target of public health policies and programs, however they often have limited opportunities to shape these efforts or lack the political knowledge and organizing skills to help ensure successful delivery. Investing in the health and well-being of young people creates benefits across development sectors and enhances support for future generations. When young people are able to express their needs through democratic processes, collaborate with adult decision makers, play leadership roles in response to humanitarian crises, and organize for just and equitable health sector reforms, sustainable development outcomes are more likely to be achieved.


CEPPS Youth Brief 4: Families and Communities

Social and Behavior Change (SBC) interventions directly confront attitudes and beliefs and help shape social norms that can enhance young people’s participation in public life. For example, programs targeting the behavior of community members who influence youth actions can shift social norms to ensure more inclusive and equitable youth participation and leadership opportunities. A number of actors exert influence over a young person’s life choices, whether negatively or positively, intentionally or unintentionally. Community members, such as parents, peers, coaches, civic leaders, and teachers, can create safe spaces that foster young people’s positive, meaningful participation in public life. These actors can also support opportunities for young people to practice civic and political engagement and play leadership roles in achieving community change across development sectors.


Final CEPPS Youth Report

Over the course 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 will build upon these lessons and recommendations in Phase II of the initiative to develop resources and continue discussions that support youth-focused cross-sectoral programs.



Contact Information:

Alyson Kozma, CEPPS Inclusion Specialist

Rachel E. Mims, NDI Senior Program Officer, Youth

Ashley Law, IFES Youth Specialist

Meryl Ertelt, IRI Youth and Inclusion Advisor