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Accelerator Breathes New Life Into Annual GYEO Summit

Atkinson (left) joins Making Cents colleagues Bhavana Suvarna and Jake Brostuen at the 2023 GYEO Summit. (photo courtesy of Making Cents International)

Attending the YEO Summit last year was an exciting and completely overwhelming experience. I had entered the International Development space just a few months prior, and the Summit was a unique chance for me to engage with fresh ideas and to better understand and reflect on the issues that matter most to me. It was an opportunity to speak with both experts and peers about their personal connection to this sector and what motivates them. The information overload made for an exhausting three days for me, but the Summit energized me in a way I could not have predicted. Aside from hearing first-hand about exciting, tangible solutions to difficult issues, I found that the Summit was a forum where I, as a young professional, could see how my own ideas and experiences related to universal themes.

Looking ahead to this year, I’m so excited to introduce the Youth Leadership Accelerator, our pre-summit program, which will take place on September 9-10. We are building this two-day program entirely around the young professional experience, meaning you can expect curated training and discussion sessions, networking, and mentoring that is adapted to your needs and interests. I was already impressed with the Summit experience last year, and, with the addition of the Accelerator, I expect youth participants will return home with even stronger skills, expanded professional networks, and a renewed sense of confidence that will maximize their leadership journey in the long term.

The Accelerator’s collaborative, intimate design is what makes it such a unique opportunity. No level of expertise or experience is needed to participate, and within a small cohort of 20, participants can deeply engage with each other, better apply their own experiences, and workshop their own ideas. The Accelerator sessions will not only bolster skills, but also fosters a support system for youth leaders to rely on throughout the Summit and beyond.

Last year, youth leaders that attended the pre-Summit sessions created a Youth Manifesto to guide YEO 2030, which includes this reminder: “We are experts in our own lives.” I’m excited to see what this year’s young leaders will create. Everyone has so much to bring to this event, but the degree of ownership the Accelerator will provide these young leaders is critical, allowing them to maximize what the Summit can offer.

If you are between 18 and 35 years old, I suggest you register for the Youth Leadership Accelerator. YEO is looking for 25 young leaders who will make up this year’s cohort. Registrants should be at least a secondary school graduate, proficient in English, and from a country in the Global South. You can visit our YEO 2030 website or register using this link, which also covers registration for the GYEO Summit itself. If you are passionate about education, gender equality, climate justice, or any other pressing topic, this might be the right program for you!

I, for one, am looking forward to what we can build together!


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