Capstone projects are an integral part of the SCS Youth Lead Activity (YLA) in Zambia. Participating youth have the opportunity to apply civic engagement skills—gained through the YLA training, along with internships—in projects they themselves design and implement, addressing women’s rights, health, and good governance.
During the training, youth identify issues in their communities, conduct their own field research, and test strategies. In the first YLA cohort, five groups (8 to 10 youth each) chose topics and then sought partnerships with community and government organizations to carry out their projects.
For example, one group was concerned about young girls who live on the streets in Lusaka. They designed a project to provide training to these youth on menstrual hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention. They worked closely with the USAID-funded DREAMS program to teach the vulnerable girls to make reusable sanitary pads that could be sold in the market.
Two groups focused on primary schools in the most vulnerable areas of Lusaka. Students had no access to computers or books. Working with school officials, one group helped equip a library, and the other established a basic computer lab and also offered training to students in literacy and computer skills.
Each Capstone group received a small program grant for its work and raised from $200-500 in in-kind support from their partner organizations. They received technical and logistical assistance from FHI 360 and host organizations. The real “pay off,” however, has been the sense of agency developed in these youth, who have seen that they can make a difference.
YLA supports, networks, and elevates outstanding young leaders ages 18–35 from across Zambia to amplify the impact of their work, inspire civic innovation, and promote a culture of sustained leadership.
The real "pay off" has been the sense of agency developed in these youth, who have seen that they can make a difference.