Monday, July 15, 2024

U.S.-Funded Program Launched to Empower Youth Through Innovation

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On May 26, 2022, the U.S. Embassy, The Trust for the Americas, and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus celebrated the official launch of the country’s first Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Lab, an initiative to empower youth and foster innovation through entrepreneurial training, mentorship, and access to technology and financial resources. The United States Government has funded this project through the Central America Regional Security Initiative-Economic Support Fund (CARSI-ESF).
In attendance at the launch were Program Director for Behavior Modification and Conflict Management Services at Belize’s Department of Youth Services William Dawson, U.S. Embassy Political Officer Sydney Skov, The Trust for the Americas Senior Manager for DIA Rodrigo Iriani, The Trust for the Americas Project Coordinator for DIA Belize Audrey Robin, Head of the UWI Open Campus in Belize Dr. Sharmayne Saunders. The Trust for the Americas CEO Linda Eddleman joined virtually. “Innovation is the cornerstone of economic development,” underscored Ms. Sydney Skov. “Investments that offer mentorship and create employment opportunities for Belizean youth lay important groundwork for empowering the next generation of leaders and for creating sustainable communities. This, in turn, feeds vibrant and stable democratic processes. The United States is a committed partner in helping to foster inclusive democracy.”
The DIA Lab aims to generate economic opportunities for youth and improve governance by bringing together young people, academia, civil society, and local governments as agents-of-change to jointly take on the challenges impacting their communities. Partnering with UWI Open Campus, in it’s first year, DIA Lab Belize will seek to engage over 300 Belizeans in digital and entrepreneurial skills training and organize two pitch competitions to grant seed funding to young entrepreneurs. Through the U.S. government’s CARSI-ESF grants program, since 2018, The Trust for the Americas and the U.S. Embassy in Belize have positively impacted the lives of hundreds of participants from different sectors of society, strengthening citizen participation and promoting the use of information and technologies that address problems in vulnerable communities.

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