A Better Future Hinges on People
During periods of shocking brutality and violence, it can feel almost impossible to imagine a better future. We may feel some mix of anger, hopelessness, and heartbreak as we witness human suffering.
But we cannot afford to lose hope. More than 55 years ago, IREX was founded to create positive change in the world by bridging geopolitical divides through the exchange of scholars, teachers, students, and ideas. Since then, we have learned that it is often cumulative work for change that leads to breakthroughs. And those breakthroughs can happen when we least expect it.
It is critical that we continue to support the people who will work for positive change. While the road to a better future can be long and uncertain, IREX will continue to invest in leaders who serve others, institutions that deliver results for their communities, the innovation and energy of youth, and access to quality education and information. We believe that investing in people remains the best way forward.
Below are a few examples of our activities from the last year to show how we continue working for a better world:
- Earlier this year, IREX hosted more than 1,000 young leaders from across the globe for transformational fellowship and exchange experiences with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The fellows included accomplished young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa who are promoting innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries; emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada; and youth from diverse communities across Pakistan.
- As part of USAID's Ukraine National Identity through Youth program, IREX worked with multiple partners and local governments to renovate three youth centers in Ukraine. The newly remodeled youth centers have become a space for youth volunteerism and civic engagement. Young Ukrainians convene at the centers to support their country by raising funds, making trench candles and camouflage nets for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and helping to distribute humanitarian aid. The centers also serve as a safe and supportive environment where youth can connect with peers, access career counseling and psychosocial support services, build their skills, and find learning opportunities and resources.
- IREX recently launched The Climate Talent Initiative, co-designed with Growald Climate Fund and other related funders. The initiative will support organizations leading just energy transitions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America by addressing critical talent needs and leadership gaps. IREX is also partnering with the PepsiCo Foundation to support young entrepreneurs addressing climate-related challenges involving food security, sustainable supply chains, and agricultural sustainability.
- More than 110 local youth-led and youth-serving organizations in 21 countries received support from IREX through our USAID-funded Youth Excel program. These youth received training, mentoring, coaching in data analysis, and grant funding. A survey of Youth Excel partners revealed that, because of their work with Youth Excel, 97% reported stronger programs and 91% reported receiving funding from new donors to drive positive change in their communities.
- In rural Kenya, we joined with the Stone Family Foundation to address girls’ inequitable access to technology in their schools and communities and to provide teachers with support to use technology in the classroom and to develop girls’ technology skills. After IREX’s interventions, in a place with minimal access to electronic resources, teachers significantly increased their use of technology in the classroom and girls’ confidence in using computers more than doubled.
In an increasingly volatile world, we need to give changemakers the knowledge and skills they need to protect their safety and security.
- This year, IREX celebrated 10 years of supporting the safety, security, and psychosocial wellbeing of 8,500 media professionals with trainings in 18 countries who have been on the frontlines of wars, elections, natural disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Ninety percent of the participants who faced a safety challenge following IREX’s training reported that the knowledge and skills from the training were “very helpful” or “extremely helpful” in addressing the situation.
- IREX is dedicated to supporting women in public life from the threat of technology-facilitated gender-based violence. A recent IREX assessment by the Transform program found several critical findings, including gaps in the evidence around who perpetrates the violence and why, the role of technology platforms and legal systems in enabling its spread, and common barriers to responding to this threat, among others. The assessment findings will be integrated in Kenya, Georgia, and Guatemala.
At IREX, we are redoubling our commitment to build more just, prosperous, and inclusive societies. Even in the face of substantial challenges, our resolve is strong to invest in people who will solve community problems and serve others.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
With best wishes for a happy holiday season,
Kristin M. Lord
President and CEO