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About AYDA

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Summary 

Alliance for Youth Development in Africa (AYDA) Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to enabling underserved communities find pathways out of systemic poverty. 

AYDA believes youth education and empowerment are key to breaking long-standing cycles of poverty and inequality; but we also understand youth development must be addressed holistically to achieve sustainable results. 

Since our inception in 2015, we have partnered with local NGOs and community leaders in the countries where we serve to identify opportunities and harness local resources for impact in education, health, economic well-being, and other domains that affect youth thriving.

The Backstory

AYDA was first conceived in 2015 when a group of five engineering students at Washington State University decided to approach their final year project differently. They set out to validate a shared belief that sustainable design can be leveraged as a tool for social impact.

The team reached out to a nonprofit organization in Senegal which, at the time, was looking for a partner to set up a new school building. The end result was a multifunctional school facility that would serve the needs of the local community and double as the organization’s administrative office. 

We have since expanded our operations in Senegal through local partnerships, implementing a range of social programs with a focus on education and youth development.

AYDA recently attained 501(c)(3) status in the United States, an important milestone that will enable us to reach our goals for funding and accountability as we forge ahead.

Our Team

AYDA is led by a team of passionate philanthropists, comprising three directors, one project manager, five volunteer teachers, and dozens of international volunteers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

What we do

AYDA advocates and creates opportunities for youth to thrive. 

We collaborate with local communities in any area of need that affects their youth, but we have historically focused on initiatives at the nexus of education, economic independence, health and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability.

In line with our mission, we have identified a number of priority areas to guide our activities over the next few years.

AYDA Centers

An AYDA Center serves as a hub for a network of communities. With an emphasis on functionality, the facility offers streamlined services and operational support for planning and implementation of programs identified by community leaders and local allied NGOs.

AYDA Centers provide the professional front and clout often required for community-led programs to gain traction, but once initiatives are activated, ownership is progressively transferred entirely to the initiating community.

Financial Sustainability 

We will ensure the financial sustainability of AYDA initiatives by leveraging innovative practices for cost efficiency and revenue generation. We will also consolidate our efforts and develop strategic funding partnerships for greater impact.

Scale Local Best Practices

We will help identify, showcase and where possible, “prototype” local best practices in school infrastructure and administration, so they can be easily scaled up or replicated.

Our Approach

Senegal will build Senegal…Africa must build Africa. This local adage captures well AYDA’s philosophy on development and our approach to community outreach.

AYDA allies with existing local programs, community leaders, and government, drawing on their experience, resourcefulness, and in-depth understanding of the challenges facing their youth, and collaborating with them to develop sustainable solutions. 

Collaborative & Allied   

AYDA allies with existing local NGOs who best understand the problems within the community and are closely aligned with our mission. We do not engage in programs or activities that promote dependence on foreign aid.

Transparent  

Transparency and accountability are embedded in our ethos. Every quarter, we publish financial reports on our website and keep our stakeholders continuously informed through our website, email, and social media.

Impact-Driven

We don’t just implement activities to check them off a list. For every project we carry out, we streamline our efforts and resources and develop revenue-earning programs that promote financial sustainability to maximize the impact of our supporters’ investment. 

Localized 

When we reach out to support new communities, we never claim to be the experts or have the solution. Rather, we draw on the knowledge and resources of the local community and tailor all programs to their specific set of circumstances. 

How we partner

Our volunteers are local citizens who become ambassadors within their communities.

We make it our goal not to interfere with local efforts, but to come alongside key players and stakeholders within the system in any way that will help them achieve their goals. We have adopted a 4-step approach to ensure we consistently operate within these boundaries.  

Case Study: Furniture for Schools

Identify a need: Local school teachers flag a need for new desks and blackboards in their school. The existing furniture is dilapidated and creates a distraction to learning . 

Understand the challenges:  We consult with the school to find out what has been done so far to address the problem. We explore whether there are financial resources already made available by the community, local government, or other opportunities. We discover they have not been unable to acquire the resources locally, nor obtain the support of the local and regional government.

Explore solutions: We brainstorm with teachers to explore ways the issue might be addressed and determine that crowdfunding and small grants are the quickest and most effective option presently.

Implement and measure: AYDA helps coordinate a fundraising effort to procure the new blackboards and furniture, leveraging our local and global networks. Following implementation, we monitor and share results of this initiative with the local and regional government  to quantify the problem and, ultimately, demonstrate impact.

Destroyed desks in École Nalla Ndiaye.

Case Study: Overcrowding in Schools

Identify a need: AYDA is approached by friends, allies, and their local connections regarding the problem of overcrowding in schools in a community flagged as previously marginalized.

Understand the challenges: We meet with local stakeholders to better understand root causes and influencing factors; and to determine the potential long-term impact of the overcrowding issue.

Explore solutions: We bring the matter up with the Ministry of Education and discuss plans for infrastructure expansion. [The Ministry’s budget cycle cannot accommodate expansion, but they grant consent to AYDA to build a new school.]

Implement and measure: Work with partners to build new school and track results. Based on our observations and data, we advise the Ministry on the extent of the deficiencies, make an evidence-based case for expanding capacity of school spaces, and offer recommendations on low-cost options for infrastructure expansion.

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A Look Back: Foundations for Senegal

The Foundations for Senegal (FFS) Design team met every Monday and Wednesday at 13:00 Pacific Time. It was a group of five college senior engineers who wanted to do something different than what the course offered. This project was approved as an eligible design project for the graduation course. The team began meeting several months before the course began.

FFS was an adopted project by the student organization of Developing Sustainable Communities (DSC). DSC provided access to additional resources and financial support when required.  DSC had many members from various academic areas. The team looked for non-engineers to participate as well, from all majors at Washington State University.  One student helped us by producing architectural drawing and renderings for the final product of the building.

The design team was later represented by Andrew Stephenson in Saint-Louis, Senegal for a project field visit 10-16 March 2017.  The team had to make many assumptions leading up to then, such as the soil properties, site location, material properties, and more.  While this was okay for the design at this stage, all this information had to be confirmed on-site before the final modifications to the design are made.  Activities involved the following:

  1. Visit property to measure dimensions, make approximate land survey.
  2. Perform soil testing on site to approximate bearing capacity.
  3. Meet material suppliers to inspect material properties: dimensions, weights, thus densities.
  4. Meet the city staff to find necessary work and building permits and regulations.
  5. Meet members of community concerning volunteering to construct building spring 2018
  6. Establish relationship with contractor and client on-site to continue progress on design and later fundraising.
  7. Gather more photos, videos and personal stories from children and parents in community.

The purpose of the trip was to achieve these seven goals and establish a better cultural understanding of community’s needs for the school and how to integrate the school with its surroundings.

Developing Sustainable Communities (Washington State University) made a generous donation in 2018