Co-Creating for Youth in LACRO

Collaborative Programme Design for the Second Decade of Life in Latin America and the Caribbean

Hana Sahatqija with Kat Crisp
Children participate in recreational activities on the school’s sports field of Negro Primero 1 school in Caucaguita, Miranda
UNICEF/UN0324428/Fernandez

16 July 2019

Co-creation has been a catchword in modern startup culture, youth culture, creative circles of different kinds of movers and shakers, and now international development. User-centeredness and collaboration have not only become go-to considerations for achieving results, but they have grown to become integral components of business and social change, particularly for young people.

Recognizing this mantra, UNICEF has been employing a repeatable, human-centered method for creative problem solving and innovation that resonates more deeply with the marginalized young audience — ultimately driving engagement, growth, and creating a global generation of young problem solvers.

 

UPSHIFT

Effective, context-responsive youth programmes generally fall on the nexus of expert, research-based best practices and collaborative, user-centric methods. Following such practice, UPSHIFT, UNICEF’s youth social innovation programme, combines some of the leading approaches to youth and adolescent development with human-centered design and private sector tools, with the goal of empowering young people to become social innovators and entrepreneurs.

Currently present in 15 countries, UPSHIFT has been prompting a lot of attention, particularly in countries still reaping the demographic dividend. Due to its innovative design and flexibility in deployment modalities, it has become a frontrunner solution for Generation Unlimited and the basis for the design of its Youth Challenge.

Some of the participants working on building UPSHIFT programme prototypes for their contexts.
UNICEF/Innovation/Sahatqija
Some of the participants working on building UPSHIFT programme prototypes for their contexts.
Participants of the workshop defining the issues around adolescents in their contexts using HCD techniques
UNICEF/Innovation/Sahatqija
Participants of the workshop defining the issues around adolescents in their contexts using HCD techniques.

Co-creating UPSHIFT for Latin America and the Caribbean

The UNICEF Innovations team, together with UNICEF’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office, organized a workshop on June 11-13 2019 to explore how UPSHIFT and the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge can be contextualized in Latin and Central America.

This workshop offered not only a mechanism for a deeper understanding of social innovation programming, but it also served as an interactive discussion and knowledge-exchange platform. Systematic, cross-functional and cross-sectional collaboration is an enabler of innovation, so it was highly positive that the 40 participants from the 12 countries present during the workshop were not only horizontally but also vertically highly diverse.

Participant from the Brazil Country Office sharing plans for piloting UPSHIFT in Brazil
UNICEF/Innovation/Sahatqija
Participant from the Brazil Country Office sharing plans for piloting UPSHIFT in Brazil.

What was noteworthy was also the adoption of human-centred design as a strategic mindset and the espousal of the ‘glocal’ approach throughout the workshop. Through the different HCD tools, we took participants through a journey of constant iteration and fluid shifts between the macro and micro lenses, in an effort to adapt and contextualize models that work for the different countries.

A critical chunk of the workshop focused on the importance of purpose-driven collaboration, particularly with non-traditional stakeholders, such as the private sector - one of the fundamentals of Generation Unlimited.  UPSHIFT scales and is sustained most effectively in a vibrant ecosystem of partners and supporters that enrich the experience of participants in building their skills, confidence, networks, and their potential for success moving forward. This is partly also the reason why the workshop participants utilized private sector tools, such as an adapted Business Model Canvas, to design country specific UPSHIFT programme models.

Participant from the Panama Country Office sharing  plans for piloting youth social innovation programming
UNICEF/Innovation/Sahatqija
Participant from the Panama Country Office sharing plans for piloting youth social innovation programming

Having participants from 12 different countries also enabled an organic exchange of ideas and strengthened south-south collaboration, contributing to discussions around joint, regional initiatives on the second decade of life as well.

Overall, the workshop was a positive step towards a more integrated and strategic approach towards second decade programming, both at the local and at the regional level. It also served as a sounding board for the Innovations team to continue to work with country offices to respond to the emerging demand for new features and functionalities, and to direct the evolution of this programmatic approach with a vision for scale and sustainability.

The Innovations team has put in place mechanisms for ensuring access to technical expertise and advise at scale and will continue to provide dedicated technical support to UNICEF Country Offices, Regional Offices, and partners interested in leveraging UPSHIFT and Generation Unlimited’s Youth Challenge as socially innovative tools in their work with and for young people.