Youth Alliance Program (YAP)

Guatemala faces its most urgent challenges since the end of its 36-year civil war. Limited opportunities in education, job training and employment have left more than 1 million young people disenfranchised and many have turned to gangs.

Through the Guatemala Youth Alliance Program, Creative provided opportunities for vulnerable youth and former gang members through education and employment programs.

Working in some of Guatemala’s most violent neighborhoods, the USAID-funded program formed new alliances with faith-based and community organizations to provide opportunities for youth, including education, skills training, and options for constructive use of free time as a means of dissuading youths from joining gangs. Creative opened seven outreach centers, many managed by former gang members, accommodating more than 600 daily participants. With the help of community volunteers at the centers, youth improved their educational and career skills.

In 2006, the Youth Alliance Program launched “Challenge: 10 -Peace for the Ex.” Challenge 10 was a unique employment and public awareness project that supported two groups of five former gang members competing to create two businesses under the guidance of two prominent businessmen. Launched as a reality television series, Challenge 10 drew international media attention and resulted in the creation of shoe repair and car wash businesses, which continue to thrive.

The success of Challenge 10 helped initiate Challenge 100 – Peace for Guatemala. Challenge 100 paired 100 former gang members with local businesses that provided them with on-the-job training. Both Challenge 10 and Challenge 100 were widely supported with resources including funding, mentoring and job training provided by the private sector, a local university and the government. Engaging the private sector’s support in the transformation of former gang members from jobless youth to reliable workers speaks to Creative’s holistic approach to helping former gang members lead legitimate and productive lives.

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