Unlocking the potential of youth as global social innovators
There are 1.8 billion young people today, with nearly 90% residing in low- and middle-income countries. This generation of young people is the largest in history.
UPSHIFT is a social innovator accelerator for young people aged 10-24 years that rapidly unlocks their generational potential to create real and tangible change in their lives and their communities.
For over a decade, UPSHIFT has been at the forefront of revolutionizing how we view young people's capabilities. It has been shaped around a proven curriculum and core principles, allowing fit-for-purpose adaptations to serve the diverse needs of young people across nearly 50 countries.
By equipping youth with essential skills like problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, leadership, and communication, UPSHIFT prepares them to take charge of their present and future as entrepreneurs, employees, and global citizens.
UPSHIFT uses Human Centred Design to build upon young people's passions and turn them into action and achievement. The journey aims to develop professional and transferable skills through experiential learning practices. UPSHIFTing young people's capacities and mindsets through mentorship, outreach, and inspiration creates an enabling environment for success in every aspect of their lives.
From the outset, UPSHIFT was designed to be modular and adaptable to meet the unique user needs and objectives. Through co-creation with local stakeholders, the UPSHIFT learning journey is adapted and built using an approach that strengthens and connects with the existing local ecosystems.
Rooted in 7 core principles, UPSHIFT synergistically equips young people with lifelong skills and facilitates a transformative learning journey for participants.
The Innovator Journey
The UPSHIFT learning journey is based on best practices in non-formal, experiential, and enterprise education. Throughout 20-25 learning hours, it combines mentorship, workshops, and an entrepreneurial challenge. It can be delivered in different formats, from in-person boot camps to blended in-person and digital learning based on highly interactive online courses.
Youth explore how to analyze and understand community challenges they care deeply about and to build innovative products or services that address them. Teams then pitch their locally driven, innovative solutions as part of an entrepreneurial challenge, where the most promising ones receive seed funding and further mentoring. This additional training can bring the learning journey to over 180 hours.
UPSHIFT alumni report life-changing experiences where they gained trust, skills, and leadership abilities that equipped them for their future.
"When I participated in UPSHIFT, it was the first time someone entrusted me with project management. I realized I could do even more because I had been trusted. The project lasted three months but changed my life forever."
UPSHIFT is continually responding to a global need and is now operational in 47 countries worldwide. As of December 2022, over 65 million learning hours have been completed by over 3.1 million young people who undertook an UPSHIFT journey.
Driven by a purpose to promote equity and inclusivity, currently, girls and young women represent 56% of all UPSHIFTers.
Other illustrative UPSHIFT communities include working with young people with disabilities in Ghana, migrants and refugees in Egypt, communities affected by climate change in Guatemala, young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) in Kyrgyzstan, girls and young women in Bolivia and Morocco, ethnic minorities in Montenegro, remote communities in the Maldives, and with conflict-affected groups in Ukraine.
Youth often want to address environmental issues and climate change, but the UPSHIFT approach also helps tackle other important local challenges. It has been used successfully to combat gender-based violence in Somalia, prevent HIV in Cote d'Ivoire, curb bullying in Belarus, promote sexual and reproductive health in Benin, and ensure food security in Jordan.
"Besides the knowledge and inspiration to act for the environment, we gained from UPSHIFT the necessary skills to thrive in life: from presentation, teamwork, leadership, and time management to communication and planning. Without them, I would not have become the young innovator I am today."
Every day, UPSHIFT continues to break new ground by supporting young people worldwide with the tools they need to overcome the challenges that face them and their communities.
SCALING FOR SUSTAINABLE IMPACT THROUGH NATIONAL EDUCATION SYSTEMS
Governments worldwide acknowledge the workforce's changing needs and the importance of adaptable individuals. As a result, they are implementing policies to enhance their education systems and promote the development of essential 21st-century skills. There is an urgent need to accelerate education reform by building the competencies of both students and educators. To achieve these goals, many governments are turning to UPSHIFT.
Owing to the growing interest in UPSHIFT, the program's delivery model is evolving alongside the desire to integrate into national education systems. Today, UPSHIFT is implemented in formal education systems in India, Vietnam, Kosovo, Italy, and Bhutan. Türkiye, Tajikistan, Jordan, Uganda, and Morocco are incorporating it into formal and non-formal education structures, and an additional 15 other countries are exploring how UPSHIFT can support their national educational priorities. As a result, there is a window of opportunity to deliver UPSHIFT to 5 million children and young people annually by 2026.
The report on Scaling UPSHIFT into Education Systems details some of the progress achieved to date.
"Our goal is simple and clear - to provide young people a holistic education which prepares young people for all aspects of life. UPSHIFT provides the tools for this and signifies hope for a brighter tomorrow."
Case Study: Introducing Unisolve
Unisolve is a digital platform specifically designed for UPSHIFT delivery in secondary schools. More than just a tech platform, "UPSHIFT powered by Unisolve" is a revolutionary Learning and Challenge Management System that empowers teachers to deliver UPSHIFT through an innovative, blended learning approach.
With its successful deployment in 3 countries, availability in multiple languages, and impact on thousands of schools to date, Unisolve has already helped over 275,000 children with even more to be reached by the end of 2023.
Opportunities for Partnership & Investment
Centred around supporting young social innovators and making their voices heard, UPSHIFT represents a powerful opportunity for global, regional, and local collaboration between the private sector, government, and civil society partners.
By investing in UPSHIFT, forward-thinking organizations can directly contribute to our collective commitment to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
To find out more about partnering with UNICEF on UPSHIFT, please get in touch at email@example.com