The MasterCard Foundation and Tufts University's Talloires Network recently announced a $5.9 million Youth Economic Participation Initiative (YEPI) to help young people around the world break down barriers to employment. The five-year collaboration will focus on developing youth employment models that can be used by other universities and organizations. The hope is that the YEPI initiative will help young adults build economic security in their own lives while contributing to the economic development and stability of their communities.
During the formative years of the YEPI initiative, Talloires will focus on youth employment in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Mark Gearan, chairman of the Talloires Network Steering Committee and president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, sums up the purpose of the program by stating:
Around the world, colleges and universities play a crucial role in preparing students to become successful employees and entrepreneurs. This initiative is based on the conviction that institutions of higher education have both a great opportunity and a great responsibility to contribute to the economic development of their own communities.
The Talloires Network is a coalition of more than 250 leading learning institutions in 62 countries committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education, particularly with young students. The hope is to increase students' employability and job-creating skills. The Talloires Network and its members are steeped in the belief that higher education does not — or rather, should not — exist in a societal bubble, even though academia is a world unto its own.
The MasterCard Foundation is leaving it largely up to Tufts' Talloires Network to complete the rather large task at hand. The network will partner with local civic organizations around the world to help create new employment networks among the public and private sectors, as well as offer student training programs to help young people move along the path to meaningful, gainful employment.
The Talloires Network has hundreds of participating member colleges and universities around the world, with more than 100 members located in the initial focus areas of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.