The Barrett Family Foundation invested $30 million in World Vision Canada, making it the largest private donation in the international NGO’s 67-year history in Canada. The transformational gift will focus on supporting youth in Africa and the organization’s Vision for Vulnerable Youth Initiative, also known as Youth Ready, developed to improve the lives of vulnerable youth develop life and livelihood skills in the face of the continent’s sky-rocketing unemployment.
The donation also supports the program’s momentum and proven impact in Latin America where nearly 128,000 young people in seven countries have benefited from the program’s training, mentoring, peer support, internships and seed capital to help empower them with economic opportunities.
“World Vision Canada is a tremendous partner because it brought international experience and a global network to help us transform our vision to create new academic and entrepreneurial business opportunities for vulnerable youth into reality,” said Robert (Bob) Barrett, President and CEO of Polytainers Inc., and co-founder with Francine Barrett, of The Barrett Family Foundation.
“Beyond programming, our family wanted World Vision to leverage our donations to bring in other donors, so we could impact the lives of even more young people living in poverty. We are delighted that more than 50 institutional and private donors have invested over $80 million (USD) in the Youth Ready program to support more than 240,000 vulnerable youth. We have seen the results firsthand and we are keen to collectively help even more youth.”
Across three East African and seven Latin American project countries, youth face challenges related to high unemployment rates, poverty inequality and exclusion. In Africa, youth are two to three times more likely than adults to be unemployed, accounting for 60% of the total unemployed population. In Latin American countries, one in five youth were unemployed in 2022, especially impacting young women who historically face higher unemployment rates than young men. With significant portions of the labour force composed of young people, finding stable and formal employment opportunities remains a persistent issue.
“The Barrett Family Foundation’s $30 million transformational gift will continue to positively impact the lives of thousands of vulnerable youths living in fragile contexts where they often face challenging hurdles to secure training and support to help them effectively build and employ their skills,” said Michael Messenger, President and CEO, World Vision Canada. “We are so grateful for the Barrett family and their continued belief in young people participating in our Youth Ready program in Latin America, and now Africa, who will be equipped to help live up to their God-given potential.”
Through The Barrett Family Foundation, the Barrett family made their first gift to the Vision for Vulnerable Youth Initiative (Youth Ready) in 2016. Responding to its positive impact on thousands of youths in Honduras and El Salvador, the family, in partnership with World Vision Canada, expanded their initiative into five additional countries – Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia – in 2019. Together, the Barrett Family Foundation and World Vision Canada have successfully impacted nearly 128,000 vulnerable young people in seven Latin American countries through its Youth Ready program. The Barrett Family Foundation is committed to funding research and learning. They believe that education is a critical step in a young person’s life and allows them to build a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities.
With the $30M investment, the Youth Ready program anticipates reaching a total of 30,000 direct beneficiaries and 120,000 indirect community beneficiaries in the following 10 countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Over one in five African youth were NEET (not in employment, education, or training) in 2020.
The Barrett Family Foundation was founded in 2013, by Bob Barrett, his wife, Francine Rouleau-Barrett, and their daughters, Kim and Rebecca.