YOUR CREDIBILITY STARTS WITH YOU: I don’t believe there is any credential that gave me permission to start A Youth Mind. I started the organization because I wanted to give what I already had: opportunity. A Youth Mind is built like a start-up, we try to work like a meritocracy, so its not so much who you are or what you’ve done that informs our decisions on team members and leadership, its what you can do and the passion driving your work that matters. In this way, we are able to educate, empower and support an open-minded, interested generation of young leaders who appreciate one another and humanity.
IDENTIFY “THE RULES” BY WHICH YOUR ORGANIZATION WILL THRIVE: We have on rule at AYM: Everyone is equal. Every youth we work with is an equal and should have a say in shaping how the project looks for them. Through this motivation, we develop lasting relationships with empowered youth. We encourage sustainability by putting the responsibility in the hands of our parters as equals, not as givers. We, as a global community, provide support for each other.
THINK BIG, START SMALL: We’ve definitely come a long way from where we started — originally this was a “hackathon” style project… “lets see how much impact we can make in 24 hours.” And then it took off, we expanded quickly from South Sudan to Kenya to Colombia. Now? We are receiving more requests to run projects in other countries and developing relationships with government and university partners alike!
RAISE ENOUGH MONEY TO MAKE IMPACT: We are currently working on winning grants and raising money. Our annual budget at our top-operating ability is roughly $20,000. This money though is mainly circulated back to youth we work with through the micro-investment! It is also used for expenses like purchasing cameras and developing film.
THE “BUMPS” OF YOUR JOURNEY MAY TURN OUT TO BE YOUR BIGGEST “BREAKS!”: One of our biggest bumps actually turned out to be one of our biggest breaks! We were originally planning on sending 250 cameras to South Sudan bling, with no proof of concept or preparation. Unfortunately, due to political disputes in South Sudan, it was deemed too dangerous to have any of our team fly over on the anticipated month.
So instead, we expanded. We shifted our mission and chose new locations in the interim. We expanded to build our micro-investment program and looked for ways we could better work with youth in South Sudan when the program did run.
We just got our first shipment back from South Sudan yesterday… and it is fantastic. We were prepared for the project and had testing our concept thoroughly due to the delay in action in South Sudan.
LOOK AHEAD: In the future, we have high hopes! Part of the AYM mission is to compile entrepreneurship curriculum that is applicable to young people in developing economies - we are working on building and making this open-source now! We are also interested in operating our projects and photography exchanges in upwards of 10 nations this year!