The voices and skills of 2.4 billion youth between the ages of 10 and 29 are critical to meeting our joint development objectives.

Strategic Priorities

Over half of the world’s population is under age 30. We know that educated, healthy, employed, and civically engaged youth drive economic growth, democracy, and prosperity. However, when we fail to effectively engage youth and address their unique needs, it can lead to violence, instability, unrest, and migration.

The Imperative

The voices and skills of 2.4 billion youth between the ages of 10 and 29 are critical to development work. Youth engagement and partnership offer leaders a chance to fully understand what it is like to grow up in today’s rapidly changing world. Instead of viewing youth as passive beneficiaries, young people should be viewed as agents of their own development. Through youth engagement, USAID and our development partners can do a better job of creating the services, opportunities, and support young people need to develop in healthy ways.

The World’s Youth

Youth are facing stagnant underemployment and unemployment at rates of two to three times higher than the adult population, particularly youth in rural areas of developing countries, and especially young women.

Only 2.2 percent of parliamentarians are under 30, and less than 1 percent are young women.

Violence affects 1.1 billion young people and contributes to long-term consequences affecting their health, productivity, and wellness.

Of the 180 to 220 million youth with disabilities worldwide, more than 80 percent live in developing nations.

Eighty-four percent of young people surveyed across 10 countries reported feeling at least moderately worried about climate change and reported feelings of climate anxiety impacting overall youth mental health.

Eighty-three percent of young people said their government has failed to care for the planet.

A Strategic Plan for Action and Investment in Youth

USAID envisions a world in which young people have the agency, rights, influence, and opportunities to pursue their life goals and contribute to the development of their communities.

Youth in Development Policy Objectives

Access: Youth are better able to access high-quality information, safe services, and livelihood opportunities and build the skills they need to lead healthy, productive, and engaged lives.

Participation: Youth have the right to fully participate in decision-making as key partners to contribute to individual, household, community, and national wellbeing.

Systems: Youth have a stronger collective voice in, and are better served by, local and national systems through more coordinated and effective services, practices, and policies that embody the principles of positive youth development.

Principles and Approaches

USAID seeks to strengthen youth programming, participation, and partnership in support of Agency development and humanitarian objectives, with a specific focus on intersectionality and the impact of social and cultural norms on young people’s participation. Youth in Development at USAID is the intentional, ongoing process of engaging youth in their transition from childhood into adulthood.

Learn More about our Youth Programming

See these highlights of the Agency's efforts to institutionalize youth in development, carry out more effective programs, and elevate youth participation:




Four young people playing a game of dominos in front of a snack bar.
inclusive development