All of YAI’s programs fall in one of three thematic areas: education, health, and economic empowerment. YAI works with community leaders, and community based groups to develop and implement programs to ensure that they are aligned with the most pressing needs of the community and that they can also be implemented in the most effective way.
The focus of YAI’s work in education is geared towards building a strong foundation for children at an early age. Executive Director Kimmie Weeks notes, “I know from first-hand experience that the foundation a child receives prior to entering grade school plays a critical role in the success of that child through the rest of their academic journey.”
YAI’s education initiatives focuses on helping to support the provision of a solid foundation for pupils in their early development stages. The organization recognizes that by giving children a good foundation they are able to excel and are contribute more significant to the rebuilding of their country. Programs offered in the education arm of the organization include:
- Liberia Early Childhood Initiative (LECI)
- Becky Primary School
Over the years, YAI’s primary focus on health care has been as regards providing sensitization on some of the primary health care issues facing young people in post war African nations. Utilizing a peer to peer approach, the organization has organized and implements unique awareness programs on the prevention of teenage pregnancy, and HIV/AIDs and sexually transmitted diseases.
The organization also focuses a big portion of its health initiatives on the provision of clean, affordable and sustainable drinking water for families in post war African countries. Working in partnership with Waves4Water and with support from SpryteLorianoGlobal, the Burt Family Foundation and Clinical Research Management Inc., the organization has provided hundreds of water filters that continue to provide cleaning drinking water for thousands of people who otherwise would not have access to safe drinking water. In addition to its clean water initiative, YAI also is implementing two additional programs. They are:
- Emergency healthcare support
- Support for youth groups engaged in health activities
The mantra “teach a man to fish” has been the core guiding factor of YAI’s economic empowerment programs. This remains an area where the organization dedicates most of its resources to.
The provision of self-sustaining empowerment opportunities for young people in post war African nations has been something that YAI’s founder Kimmie Weeks has been passionate about. In one of his talks, Weeks notes that very often the young adult generation living in post war countries are easily written off because during the years of war, they lost the opportunity to keep up with regular classroom lessons and eventually too many years had passed for them to comfortably return to school. However, Weeks says these young people remain and untapped and extreme reservoir of talent that can still be tapped into. Says Weeks, “Yes, they’ve seen war and have lost years of their lives, but they are also filled with a deep burning survival flame that brought them through the worst nightmares. Give them a real opportunity to forge ahead and they will become the backbone of any postwar nation.”
YAI’s economic empowerment programs provide young people the opportunity to enroll in one of several skills training programs where they are given the gift and opportunity to learn a lifelong skill that can be used to earn an income.
There are specific economic empowerment programs for women’s empowerment, which also include a micro loan component.
- Agriculture Initiatives
- Support for youth groups engaged in empowerment