Youth Empowerment

We believe that education – including learning how to access and stay in employment – is key to empowering young people to make the crucial transition from school to work, and from childhood to independent adult citizens of  their communities. Unfortunately, many young people in our target countries struggle to gain a good education, or find it hard to access jobs.


In the Foundation’s Middle Eastern target countries, education systems often fail to equip young people with the skills they need for adult life. An emphasis on memorisation and rote learning in many schools makes it difficult for young people to develop analytical and creative thinking skills, and all too often school and university curricula lack practical application and links to the job market. Although the education system in the UK is generally much stronger, many young people still get left behind, and research has shown that the UK’s vocational education sector in particular would benefit from improvement.

Once they leave education, unemployment is a serious risk for young people in all four of the Foundation’s target countries. In Palestine, some 39% of 15-24 year olds are unemployed, with unemployment highest among university graduates. In Lebanon, youth unemployment currently stands at around 35%, and for young Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, prohibitive labour laws mean they are barred from all but a handful of professions. In the UK, young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population, and they are strongly affected by cuts in services. In Syria, devastated by war, millions of young people have been out of education for years and there are precious few jobs for those who do manage to finish their education. Millions of young people and their families have moved abroad in search of education and employment, often suffering terrible trauma on the way.

What we do

Through the Youth Empowerment programme, the Foundation aims to help disadvantaged young people from all four of its target countries develop the skills, knowledge and mindsets needed to get ahead in the world of work. We aim to empower them to become independent, productive and engaged members of their societies. To achieve this, we support good partner projects which help disadvantaged young people in the following areas:

  • projects which help disadvantaged young people set up and grow businesses, gain technical or employment-related skills or gain work experience.
  • projects which help Syrian and Palestinian refugee students in Lebanon and Turkey to pursue higher education (whether vocational or academic).
  • projects which help improve education systems, such as research, teacher training and curriculum design.

Further information on the Foundation’s current Youth Empowerment Programme partners can be found to the right. Organisations interested in applying for a grant should click here for details of how to apply for a grant.

Photo credit: © UNHCR/Shawn Baldwin

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