The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator is an important investment in our future

Learn more about Natalie Gonnella-Platts.
Natalie Gonnella-Platts
Director, Women's Advancement
George W. Bush Institute

Young people today are leading the charge to ensure a more prosperous tomorrow, and the world is counting on them.

There are more people alive today than at any point in human history. In Africa alone, 60 percent of the continent’s population is under the age of 25, and by 2050 40 percent of the world’s population will be under the age of 18.   

Amid the youngest population the world has ever seen, one of the greatest ways we can support a more peaceful, prosperous future for all is through directly investing in and engaging with young people. 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation not only understands this, they are working to ensure young people have an active seat at the table. And this week marks an important milestone as a new youth-led global data and storytelling initiative officially kicks off.  

Announced in September at Goalkeepers 2018, the Gates Foundation’s Youth Action Accelerator recognizes that young people are vital to the success of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Bush Institute is proud to serve as a partner in this program.

Selected from an applicant pool of over 2,000, the Accelerator’s 26 young leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East are meeting for the first time this week for a multi-day workshop in Arusha, Tanzania, to learn from one another and other experts in their fields of interest. 

A year-long initiative, Accelerator participants will also receive up to $30,000 each to deliver on bespoke efforts that leverage data sourcing and translation, accountability, and storytelling to tackle local and global challenges including poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, and access to water and sanitation. Participants are expected to demonstrate progress on these issue areas and hold public and private sector leaders to account to ensure continued improvement. 

For example, in Burma, Nay Lin Tun, a 2017 Bush Institute Liberty and Leadership Program graduate, is working to gather health and safety-related data in areas experiencing humanitarian crises to facilitate and increase the efficiency of emergency responses.  

Jordan’s Christine Goussous is using technology to analyze community needs and support marginalized people in starting their own sustainable projects.  

Dariele Santos of Brazil is using storytelling to empower textile workers, influence brands, and educate consumers to increase fairness in the fashion industry. 

And Malawi’s Dumisani Kaliati is developing low cost drones to deliver medicine and HIV tests for young children and pregnant women living in remote areas.

Young people today are leading the charge to ensure a more prosperous tomorrow, and the world is counting on them. Progress is possible, but not inevitable. Their success is further assured with funding, technical support, mentorship, and access to data and decision-making spaces.