Regional Youth Alliance USAID-SICA (AJR)

Gang activity in Central America has led to rising insecurity, increased crime and growing youth unemployment. In 2008, estimated murder rates per 100,000 people stood at 48 in Guatemala, 52 in El Salvador and 58 in Honduras – four to six times higher than what is considered to be epidemic. Before long, two cities in Honduras – Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula – joined Caracas and Juarez as murder capitals of the world.

After its successful Youth Alliance Program in Guatemala that used mentoring, internships and job training to address gangs and gang violence, Creative was awarded the Regional Youth Alliance project in 2008 by the U.S. Agency for International Development. It focused on three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Known in Central America as Alianza Joven Regional, it used Creative’s successful methods in establishing community-based public-private alliances to leverage support, both in-kind and financial, for crime and violence prevention activities for youth.

Working through multi-sectoral alliances at all government levels, the project supported crime prevention, reinsertion and integration activities to decrease community vulnerability to crime and violence risk factors. It encouraged broad community participation through municipal crime prevention committees whose membership includes representatives from municipal governments, the private sector, civil society, and faith-based organizations and whose function is to identify risk factors in each municipality.

The project also served as a vehicle to assess regional legal frameworks and practices to promote multi-country policy and reform to promote a cohesive regional response to the gang problem and provides technical assistance to the Central American Integration System.

In its four years, the Regional Youth Alliance project awarded grants to organizations in 66 targeted communities that worked with gangs and gang prevention. The grants reached nearly 300 community leaders and served 6,000 at-risk youth.

The program also developed a successful job placement initiative, based on Creative’s Challenge 100 program in Guatemala which provided former gang members with mentors and job training. It grew out of Challenge 10—Peace for the EX®, an innovative program that was also broadcast as a reality TV series. Nearly 450 rehabilitated gang members obtained permanent employment through the program.


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