The International Youth Foundation (IYF) was established in 1990 to bring worldwide support to the many exceptional efforts that are changing young lives in every corner of the globe. Two forces combined to make the idea of IYF a reality: the driving vision of its founder, Rick Little, and the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which awarded IYF the largest grant in its history to pursue its ambitious mission.
Little had spent the two years prior to IYF’s creation consulting with some 300 leaders in business, philanthropy, education, government, and social services in more than 30 countries about what was missing in current efforts to meet the needs of millions of young people worldwide. These early conversations, which included talks with youth leaders, confirmed that while great progress had been made in keeping more children alive, an even greater proportion were growing up with little education, job training, productive employment—or hope.
Yet at the same time, there was clearly good news. Despite the challenges facing young people, Little recognized that innovative approaches and practices had been developed in communities around the world to meet these urgent needs. IYF’s existence is predicated on identifying such programs and people, strengthening their impact, and expanding their reach.
Today, IYF has grown from an idea to a truly global organization with a presence in close to 70 countries and territories. Together, IYF and its partners have reached millions of young people worldwide.