Jamaica Concept Piece

USAID has announced the release of a solicitation for a five-year cooperative agreement to (1) increase targeted youth's civic engagement, (2) strengthen their supporting environment, and (3) bolster employment opportunities.  This program -- the Jamaica At-Risk Youth Empowerment, Civic Participation, and Workforce Readiness (EMPOWER) Activity will be funded at a cost range of $10 million to $24.99 million under the Youth Power Annual Program Statement (APS).  The purpose of this discussion is to present a concept piece regarding how the program could be designed and implemented in such a way as to foster sustainability and leverage greater impact through partnerships and support from the Jamaican diaspora in the United States.

There is an opportunity to partner with  the Jamaican diaspora in the United States to support initiatives to empower youth and prevent violence.  The key is to give the young people of Jamaica hope for a better future.  With over 757,000 Jamaican-origin residents in the United States, a series of partnerships could be put into place to help link the diaspora back to home communities.  This approach would require the following actions:

1. Map Jamaican-Origin residents in the United States using census data down to the block level using Social Explorer (census data analysis website).  An example of this mapping is in the Jamaica diaspora page.

2. Partner with Jamaican hometown associations, supporters (RPCVs from Jamaica), businesses that are owned by diaspora members, and business owners interested in developing ties to Jamaica for remote work (e.g., call centers).  An example of this type of approach can be found in a concept paper I drafted when I was working in Peru -- see Mi Querido Pais.

3. Provide a secure mechanism for these partners and others (Jamaicans that are remitting funds to their families) to invest in smallscale businesses with training support in workforce development and business skils.  This would include partnering with the Peace Corps, civic groups in the United States that have an interest in Jamaica, and working directly with members of the diaspora.

The design of this program would target the communities highlighted in the Ministry of National Security as the most critical areas for interventions to empower youth and prevent violence.