UNESCO and Nestlé have announced a new partnership to provide young people with the resources and the skills they need to develop and carry forward innovative solutions to achieve positive social impact in their communities. The project will begin in Latin America with a call for applications across the region. The end-goal is to scale-up the partnership to global level in the future. The partnership, “Because Youth Matter”, will be carried out by UNESCO in cooperation with Nestlé.

In 2023, twenty grants of 10,000 USD each will be awarded to young leaders, entrepreneurs and youth organizations to help them create and implement changemaking solutions for social impact. Grantees will benefit from training sessions and mentoring throughout the development of their projects from Nestlé’s and UNESCO’s experts. With UNESCO’s support, the grantees will also showcase their ideas and solutions to policy makers and civil society actors, to increase impact.

A global jury composed of young leaders and experts from UNESCO and Nestlé will assess the applications. The grantees, aged 18-30, will be selected on the basis of their potential to achieve social change in their communities.

This partnership aims to help young people to reach their full potential at a moment when the multiple crises are affecting the world. Countries struggle to recover from the impacts of the Covid 19 Pandemic, prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change and contend with the shocks of the war in Ukraine. Youth are among those most affected: their mental health is deteriorating, 80% of young people across the globe are vulnerable to depression and disillusionment*, and more than one in five young people (under 25) are not in employment, education or training, compromising their future employment prospects*. Young women are particularly vulnerable to poor mental health and poverty. The fact that young people now number more than 1.2 billion, increases the urgency of this call.

“Because Youth Matter” is part of UNESCO’s Global Youth Grant Scheme, a program that mobilizes financial and in-kind support for young people around the world. The program also benefits from the Organization’s 20 years of experience working with young people worldwide by establishing and supporting youth-led initiatives and networks, strengthening youth capacities, fostering their knowledge production, through the “Young as Researchers Initiative” and creating dialogue spaces between youth, policymakers and other partners.

This new partnership builds on Nestlé’s 10 years of youth empowerment through its Nestlé needs YOUth initiative. With the goal of enabling 10 million young people around the world access economic opportunities by 2030, the initiative helps youth gain access to apprenticeships, traineeships and job opportunities. Globally, it has benefited more than 5 million young people across the three pillars: employment & employability, agripreneurship and entrepreneurship. Partnering with UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector is an important step in Nestlé’s commitment to youth.