Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI)
Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) is an adolescent health organisation that educates, empowers, and inspires youth and community development in Nigeria using sound, proven models that get results.
Our Core Values:
Integrity: We act with honesty, uprightness, transparency, and without compromising the truth; we strive for a high moral character in all our actions.
Innovation: We always evolve new creative ideas that can add value to life and change the world
Excellence: We give our best to the task at hand at all times; with dedication and commitment we put our heart and mind in the work to get the best.
Safety: We create and ensure a safe and trouble-free space and experience for everyone.
Teamwork: We value cooperation, using our individual skills and providing constructive feedback to get everyone on the same page; we work collaboratively with people and organizations in order to achieve a goal.
Equality: We believe in fairness, objectivity and mutual respect; we have no room for discrimination.
Sacrifice: We take ownership and go the extra mile, placing others before self.
Committed development professionals with expertise in international public health, governance, and corporate social responsibility in Africa and especially in Nigeria created YEDI in 2011 to pilot the Grassroot Soccer (GRS) model, a football-for-development programme, developed more than 10 years ago in Southern Africa to reduce HIV prevalence rates and stigma. The pilot, which targeted 6 sites (5 schools and a church), was an immediate success, prompting YEDI to expand the programme into other high-need areas. The GRS methodology is based on training local young adults as mentors; empowering them to implement the activity-based and sport-themed health education curricula to young people.
Founded in 2011, YEDI is a not-for-profit organisation that has benefitted over 200,000 young people in schools and community sites in Lagos, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, and Ogun, with evidence-based programs designed to build young people’s assets, facilitate their access to health services, and promote their adherence to healthy behaviours. The YEDI model trains young adult mentors as community change agents to implement age-appropriate and gender-sensitive curricula that combine football metaphors and activities with high impact health information that engage youth and break down cultural barriers. YEDI runs these programmes through fixed and outreach sites, which operate as safe spaces for young people 10-24 years old to access engaging sport-based activities as well as health and social services across the adolescent continuum of care. To deliver on this strategy, YEDI harnesses a multi-sectoral ecosystem of government and social services, layering health, education, sport, youth development, economic empowerment, and child protection. Recognising the need to reach the most vulnerable Nigerian youth at risk of HIV, gender-based violence, and other adverse health outcomes, YEDI has since 2015 intentionally targeted the most vulnerable youth in the communities it works – including out-of-school youth (6,279 so far in 2019) and street children. YEDI brings deep experience in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH), orphans and vulnerable children & youth (OVCY) programming, combination HIV prevention, gender-based violence (GBV) prevention, Neglected Tropical Diseases prevention awareness, malaria prevention, positive youth development, and community mobilisation.
With 30 full-time staff, over 450 active volunteer youth peer mentors (Coaches). YEDI has offices and project sites in Lagos, Abuja and Akwa-Ibom and implements additional activities in Ogun State through strategic partnerships with, and technical assistance to, indigenous CBOs with shared values. Through its strong financial management, M&E, and programme delivery systems, YEDI has managed a portfolio of grants from partners as diverse as ExxonMobil, MAC AIDS Fund, StreetFootballWorld, German Government’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ), FIFA Foundation, African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), US Ambassadors/PEPFAR Small Grants, and UNFPA (through the Lagos State Government). Through agreements with state-level Ministries of Education and creative partnerships with schools, YEDI has been able to work in schools with young people to supplement health and life skills education programmes.
YEDI is an implementing partner of Grassroot Soccer, Inc., an international NGO that has reached over 2.2 million young people since 2002 in over 50 countries with evidence-based adolescent health programming through sport.
Evidence-based Approaches and Programmes:
YEDI’s interventions contribute to UNAIDS’ global 95-95-95 and FP2023 targets, and YEDI indicators are aligned with PEPFAR and WHO standards. As part of Grassroot Soccer’s global network of partners, YEDI’s suite of curricula and programmes have been informed by 40 research studies in over 20 countries.
Area of Impact: Building Health and Life Skills Assets
Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women with SRH and Education Life Skills
YEDI has developed highly acclaimed programmes to strengthen the SRH and educational assets of adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 19. YEDI trains and manages trusted female mentors (Coaches) aged 18-25 to create a safe atmosphere for learning and to improve girls’ knowledge of SRH issues, including HIV Testing Services, (HTS), GBV, and Family Planning and Reproductive Health (FP/RH) and works with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and clinical staff to improve their ability to deliver adolescent-friendly services to girls. The programme which reaches girls through in-school, out-of-school programmes and five-day holiday camps held annually, has benefitted over 25,000 girls since 2014. USAID has specifically highlighted the methodology YEDI uses as an evidence-based approach and supports the delivery of this curriculum through the PEPFAR-funded OVCY/DREAMS programmes in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Two independent evaluations of these gender and sexuality programmes show consistent improvement in self-esteem, self-confidence, decreased acceptance of violence, improved disclosure/reporting of violence, improved gender-equitable norms, and increased utilisation of HTS and SRH services.
Promoting Pro-Social Behaviour among Adolescent Boys and Young Men
Aligned to the increasing global recognition of the importance of reaching high-risk adolescent boys and young men (ABYM), YEDI is uniquely positioned to engage ABYM on issues related to their health and to find innovative ways to drive demand for health services in a non-stigmatised setting that aligns to their existing identity. YEDI uses school settings, out-of-school programmes, and 5-day holiday camps as the foundation upon which life skills programming can be layered and integrated for ABYM. The life skills practices and curricula use activities to spark conversations and self-reflection around social gender norms, sexual violence, substance abuse, power, and other sensitive topics. YEDI has evidence-based, adaptable content available for adolescent boys 10-19. With funding from Laureus Foundation, YEDI recently conducted a 12-month mixed methods evaluation on the single-sex SKILLZ Guyz programme in Nigeria for boys 13-19, and learnings from the evaluation are being integrated into YEDI’s curriculum updates. Over 6,376 adolescent boys and young men have benefitted from YEDI’s single-sex program.
Area of Impact: Increasing Access and Adherence to Health Services
Linkages to High Impact Health Services through Peer Navigation
Through a Full Circle Peer Navigation approach, YEDI Coaches strengthen bi-directional community-facility linkages to high impact health and social services at all points along the adolescent health continuum through community mobilisation and completed referrals (clinical accompaniment) and community-based follow up. Coaches conduct home visits to provide parents, guardians, and community members with information about community health events and medical services and support, as well as to obtain consent for testing from guardians. YEDI Coaches are also positioned to support case finding and access to traditional and non-traditional community-based HTS.
Supporting Youth-Friendly SRH Services
YEDI is currently in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Health with a mandate to manage five UNFPA-supported Lagos State Hello Lagos Centres for the provision of youth-friendly services to vulnerable adolescents. By managing the Centres and offering both structured SKILLZ programming and events, YEDI, working with trusted youth mentors and support groups, provides safe spaces for both in-school and out-of-school youth in the Lagos community to access SRH services – including family planning and other priority SRHR services – as well as support adherence to health services.
Community Mobilisation and Outreach
YEDI uses football as a platform to mobilise communities around health services (HTS, malaria, VMMC, FP/RH, GBV, etc.) and provide services in non-clinical settings. YEDI implements high volume football tournaments during international commemoration days (such as World Malaria Day and World AIDS Day) that double as community health events. These platforms serve as unique service delivery points for biomedical service providers to offer outreach services to youth and the community and to sensitise community members to SRH issues. By facilitating access to health services in non-traditional settings like football tournaments, YEDI is able to reach individuals that may not seek services at health facilities.