Youth Excel: Our Knowledge, Leading Change

  • United States Agency for International Development logo.
  • Youth Excel logo with the tagline Our Knowledge, Leading Change.

Youth Excel: Our Knowledge, Leading Change


Youth Excel is a global program that will empower young people and youth organizations to use implementation research to strengthen local, national, and global development solutions.

Youth Excel will support young leaders and youth-led and youth-serving organizations around the globe to conduct quality implementation research; use data and learnings to improve their own cross-sectoral, positive youth development programs; synthesize data and learning; and engage in intergenerational dialogue with adult decision-makers so that together youth and adults can shape and advance data-informed development policies, agendas, and programs.

Implementation research is a mixed-methods approach to collecting data during program implementation to improve implementation. Implementation research helps teams learn how to adapt tested programs to new contexts, how to scale and achieve cost-effectiveness, and how to strengthen impact.

Check Out Youth Excel's Research-to-Change Toolkit

The Research-to-Change Toolkit, designed by the Youth Excel: Our Knowledge, Leading Change consortium, guides youth-led and youth-serving organizations to strengthen their positive youth development programs using research and data.

Quick Facts

  • Young people lead the Youth Excel program. IREX’s consortium includes five youth-led partners, as well as global partners to extend the program’s impact.
  • Youth Excel addresses USAID’s, IREX’s, and our consortium’s shared imperative to empower young people to solve local, national, and global development challenges using data-driven and research-based approaches.
  • Youth Excel confronts barriers that youth face in leading development, including the lack of a broadly credible research and evidence base for youth programming and other barriers that prevent youth from influencing decisions about policy and funding in their societies.
  • Youth Excel will build the global knowledge base on cross-sectoral youth development, support USAID’s Global LEAD initiative, expand USAID’s YouthLead network, and advance USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance agenda on sustainable local development.
  • Youth Excel will work globally and select focus countries each year.


  • Diverse youth create and lead data-informed, inclusive youth development at local, national, and global levels.
  • Youth-led and youth-serving programs strengthen their ability to gather and use evidence about their programs to strengthen and expand their impact.
  • Youth disseminate learning from their implementation research efforts so that the evidence can inform programs and policies.
  • Youth and adults use data as an inclusive intergenerational language to collaborate and inform decision-making.
  • Youth-led networks and place-based networks facilitate collaboration between key development stakeholders, including public, private, and civil society actors, to expand development impact.

Project Activities

  • Create a toolkit for implementation research: Develop an open-source, gender-responsive toolkit for conducting implementation research about positive youth development.
  • Support youth organizations and networks: Support youth-led and youth-serving organizations, and youth-led, issue-based collaborative networks to address local development issues through implementation research.
  • Strengthen skills: Build youth’s skills in digital leadership, data leadership, and advocacy.
  • Be inclusive: Prioritize gender and social inclusion and use power equity tools to ensure that every activity is inclusive.
  • Support implementation research: Strengthen networks of youth researchers to support implementation research activities.
  • Strengthen intergenerational partnerships: Work through issue-based collaborative networks and data summits to facilitate dialogue between youth and adults.
  • Engage the public and private sectors: Build partnerships to support youth-led data and learning.
  • Promote research: Synthesize and disseminate youth’s evidence and learning.
  • Support advocacy: Leverage youth-led research and adults’ support to influence development agendas and policies.