Honduras youth movement wins social entrepreneurship prize

By Jennifer Brookland

October 11, 2013

Jóvenes Contra la Violencia, which won a social entrepreneurship prize in Honduras, was the only youth-focused organization in the top ten.

Youth in the some of the world’s most deadly cities will have the chance to carry a violence prevention program into new neighborhoods with money from two awards won this week in Honduras.

The young people in the Jovenes Contra la Violencia Honduras (JCVH) Movement won a $2,500 Social Entrepreneurship Award from the Honduran University UNITEC, International Youth Foundation and Laureate International Universities.

“Receiving this award means that our work is well-seen and valued by others,” says Lidia Cálix Santos, a former coordinator with JCVH who now works with its supporter, Creative’s Alianza Joven Honduras Program. “These are little steps that are strengthening our organization.”

The Youth Against Violence Movement provides young people—including those most at risk—with opportunities to participate in public advocacy campaigns to prevent violence in their communities and regionally.

Created in Guatemala in 2009, the Youth Movement works today in seven Central American countries including Honduras, where it recently added a fifth chapter in the city of El Progresso and has garnered international attention and support.

Chapters in major cities are starting to establish smaller community-based cells called “Ambassadors of Prevention,” which work at the barrio level and are led by young people who live there. These cells engage young people with sports, art, community service projects and break dancing—anything to keep kids with no constructive after-school activities engaged and off the streets.

“The greatest success is being able to give a voice to Honduran youth, bringing their proposals in front of decision makers and having credibility in society as a youth organization that is truly achieving a change in peoples’ attitudes nationwide,” JCVH’s country coordinator Jorge Avila said in a 2012 interview with USAID.

The Movement’s advocacy efforts are supported by Alianza Joven Honduras, a program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and managed by Creative. The program empowers youth and their communities to prevent and confront violence in cities like San Pedro Sula, where more than three people are murdered every day.

Creative’s program director, Salvador Stadthagen, recognizes that the Youth Against Violence Movement took the initiative and applied to the contest.

“We are all very proud of the movement for this, particularly because they required not a bit of help from us to do their proposal and participate in this competition, a show that they are coming of age as an NGO” says Stadthagen.

The UNITEC prize is for young social entrepreneurs who had launched a project that had a positive effect on society. Nearly 40 projects were considered, and the top 10 were invited to present and defend their initiatives before judges, including UNITEC professors, previous prize winners and representatives of the international development agency GIZ.

The prize money will be used in 2014 to strengthen the three “Ambassadors of Prevention” cells already open in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, and to establish two more in violent neighborhoods, Creative’s Stadthagen says.

The program will also use the winnings to create a training program on leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as sending participants on a one-week retreat to Costa Rica for mentoring, coaching and networking.

The prize followed the announcement of another win—a $43,000 grant that will be awarded to JCVH by Kinder Not Hife, a German organization focused on young people.

“Not only is this a big win, but it’s recognition of the Youth Movement in Honduras,” says Stadthagen. “I hope they carry JCVH to greater success, greater impacts, and more chapters as it consolidates.”

As prize winners, UNITEC will provide JCVH with technical support as it continues to expand its project activities and boost its national and international visibility—hopefully through nomination to international social action competitions.

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