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.
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 “School Senegal” – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why only Africa?
We believe that nonprofit organization charities should narrow their scope of purpose and charitable activities to a single target group and geographic location. For an average nonprofit organization of our size, including the entire African continent and its 54 sovereign nations is an ambitious goal. We have confidence in the millions of global charities to incorporate other regions of the world into their geographic scope.
Why support the more developed nations among Africa and not support the nations in most dire need?
We support emergency aid to war-torn nations and other countries suffering from natural disasters and other crises; however, we believe that our long-term goals will be accomplished by large investments in education and skill-building, which require infrastructure that is very vulnerable in the least developed nations and particularly those areas experience unstable political and ethnic violence. The nations we select are those often frequented by representatives from neighboring African nations which may notice efforts by AYDA that can be replicated in their own nations.
How are AYDA projects resilient to unstable politics, civil unrest, famine, natural disasters, and immigration?
The nations we select are those that are least likely to experience conditions that make our charitable infrastructure vulnerable to abandonment or even destruction. The most probable conditions to damage AYDA infrastructure are influxes in immigration from neighboring countries that experience conditions that produce emigrating refugees.
How can we trust that 100% of all monetary donations make it to the youth?
AYDA is registered nonprofit organization with the U.S. state of Washington and is a class 501c3 nonprofit charity with the United State Internal Revenue Services, which reviews every financial transaction from international donor to final purchase in Senegal. This is accomplished as AYDA corporate and AYDA Senegal each have bank accounts that continue the financial trail from donor to recipient. Receipts of purchases are received by the local AYDA teams abroad, scanned, and archived in the AYDA database.
Are donations deductions tax deductible?
What are acceptable donations?