Applications invited for gov’t $70M youth innovation project

Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton (centre), Director of the Department of Youth, Melissa Carmichael-Haynes (second, from left) and other Department of Youth officials listen as 2017 Youth Innovation Project awardee Shemar Spencer shares his experience. (Terrence Thompson photo)

The Department of Youth is once again inviting young people between 14 and 35 years to apply for funding to develop solutions to issues in their communities using Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, Anthropology, Archaeology, Architecture, Arts, Mathematics and Spirituality (STEAMS) under its $70 million seed capital Youth Innovation Project of Guyana 2018.

Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton, who heads the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, issued the invitation yesterday at the launch of this year’s project at the Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.

Norton said the government acknowledges the innovative mind and pioneering spirit of the youth and was giving them the opportunity to develop long-term sustainable projects, in keeping with the vision of a green economy.

The 2018 project is being rolled out under the theme “Aspire, Inspire to Reach,” said Director of Youth Melissa Carmichael-Haynes. Information on the project will be available to all regional administrative officers, toshaos and community development officers. Monitors will be assigned to the regions in outreaches to facilitate and advise on project proposals and on the way forward in the application process. Dates for the outreaches will be posted on the ministry’s website. Forms may be uplifted from the ministry and they may also be downloaded from the website on the ministry’s Facebook page.

Individuals and teams of no more than 10 people may apply for funding.

The deadline for the submission of applications is June 30th, 2018.

On the 2017 project, Carmichael-Haynes said a total of 21 groups and individuals from 56 applicants were awarded grants in the total sum of $40 million to develop innovative solutions to solve social and environmental issues in communities and schools, and to improve the lives of young people themselves.

To date, 60% of the projects undertaken are in the implementation stage.

Last year’s applicants were vetted by a selection committee that included representatives from UNESCO, the University of Guyana, the National Centre for Educational Resource Development and the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport.

Many young people, among others, have started to benefit from the projects, which Carmichael-Haynes said include skills training.

Shemar Spencer, who created a mobile bartering app Swopp, which allows people to exchange goods and services without the use of money, shared his experiences in overcoming some of the public awareness challenges that came his way.

Encouraging young people to get involved, Spencer said instead of looking for jobs they would be able to create their own and even employ others. He employs two people.

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