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Mei Cobb

By Mei Cobb

Exploring Volunteering and Youth Development 7,000 Miles from Home

12/09/13


Recently I participated in the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development’s first ever Philanthropy Summit in Abu Dhabi. The summit brought together philanthropic, corporate and government representatives to learn from each other and debate how to better channel our collective resources to advance the common good. It was wonderful to speak with and learn from representatives of the Gates, Shell and Rockefeller Foundations, among others from across the globe. In addition, the Foundation honored hundreds of volunteers who are helping youth succeed. The Emirates Foundation for Youth Development is a philanthropic foundation set up by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to facilitate public-private funded initiatives to improve the welfare of people across the United Arab Emirates. The Foundation works in three key areas: social inclusion - looking at some of the challenges facing young people; community engagement - encouraging youth to participate in a voluntary capacity in the civil society; and leadership and empowerment - helping to build young people's “soft skills” and prepare them for the workplace. The Foundation’s six programs include Takatof, which has 33,000 volunteers. I helped create the Takatof program, which aims to engage more youth in volunteer service. It was wonderful to see how far they have come since the program began. Young Emiratis with an understanding of the power of volunteering will have a profound impact in their small but very prosperous country. The Foundation also has an emergency response program with 6,000 volunteers, along with programs to bolster education in the sciences and improve financial literacy, and even career-oriented mentoring for youth. During the summit, I met Emiratis who are energized about learning more about how to integrate a spirit of giving into their culture. I hope the sessions I led on retaining volunteers and lessons learned from programs serving youth volunteers will help toward that end. Check out some highlights from the Emirates Foundation Philanthropy Summit 2013.
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