Award USA can help young people be ready for this new normal. Ready for challenge. And ready for what is ahead.
An open letter from Award USA
It has been six months since life around us began to change. With the arrival of COVID-19, we have seen many plans and programs halted. As a new school year begins, we must work together to support our young people.
We are ready.
Education and youth programs will continue to be altered this year.
1.2 billion children in 186 countries are reported by the World Economic Forum to be out of school and impacted by COVID.
Of the 16.7 million US students enrolled in public or private high schools, more than 86% expect again to be in a fully remote or hybrid learning model with reduced in-person learning this fall.
A recent CDC study reported that young people ages 18 to 24 share the highest levels of anxiety and depression of all adults surveyed, with 1 in 4 reporting thoughts of suicide.
The recent re-openings of colleges and universities have shown mixed results, with many forced to move to a fully remote formatdue to outbreaks just after welcoming students back.
A large-scale experiment is underway in university and school district classrooms as they attempt to utilize fully virtual and other mixed models of instruction. Young people are reporting feeling isolated, disconnected, and anxious.
READY FOR NOW.
READY FOR THE FUTURE.
Today's young people are strong, inspired and dedicated. They can – and will – create new opportunities from our current challenges. The award framework can help, by fostering the 'soft,' 'core' or 'universal' skills and characteristics needed to navigate change and build positive habits, so that young people are ready for life, work and to play a constructive role in society.
Ready for now.
The Award encourages young people to:
Stay mentally and physically healthy
Connect (safely) with others
Give back to their communities
Embrace structure and purpose
Readjust to formal education
Ready for the future.
The Award encourages young people to develop:
Essential life skills
Goal setting and planning
Increased community engagement
The ability to thrive in a changing world
Award USA's framework continues to guide participants forward.
With more than 60 years of experience equipping young people to be ready for the world outside the classroom, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award USA is here to help.
It gives 14-24 year olds access to a global framework that empowers them to learn and grow through non-formal education, all while working towards globally recognized accreditation.
By supporting mental health and long-term prospects; by giving them the tools to develop their resilience, adaptability, leadership and problem solving, the Award can help to equip young people to be ready for the world. Ready for a new "normal."
With a completely individualized program, caring adult mentors, and the framework to organize themselves, the Award ignites in young people a passion which aids them in charting a direction ahead.
Thanks to the efforts of our donors and volunteers, when the pandemic hit, our team was able to finalize adult training and program resources to facilitate a final step in providing completely remote program access. Because of this, Award USA can provide the opportunities for leadership, connection and a broader sense of community that might otherwise be lacking in the months ahead.
Throughout the spring and summer months, Award participants in both the US and around the world have continued to learn, develop new skills and prepare themselves for their futures.
Never before have non-formal educational tools been more critical for youth development and wellbeing. Our young people need guidance as they strive to develop resilience, confidence, determination, and internal motivation that will drive them forward, both within the classroom and beyond.
Award USA is for everyone.
Because Award USA is committed to making the program accessible to all young people, we are focused on:
Cultivating partnerships: We are working every day to connect with schools, community groups and likeminded organizations to establish new Award Centers.
Supporting all young people: We know that the Award is making an impact. 53% of US Award participants report they are from a minority race, religion, are differently abled and/or live with low income. As we look ahead, we seek to grow our financial assistance and strong work of inclusivity to be sure the Award includes all young people 14-24.
Expanding the Virtual Open Award Center: To ensure that anyone seeking access to the Award program can participate regardless of access to an established Award Center, we continue to identify and train volunteers to mentor through our Open Award Center.
Establishing our presence: While the Award is established, the US branch is still a fast-growing startup division. We have a fantastic base of support and we are working tirelessly to get the word out about this exceptional program.
I invite you to take a few moments to view our newest video below, spotlighting the Award at work around the globe over the past few months. Our young leaders continue to lead the way, coming of age with grace and strength.
Thank you for being a part of this journey with us.
Award USA, CEO
The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award USA
"I am still determined to get the Award and the only difference is I’m doing everything from home."
Oyinkansola, Bronze participant
"During this pandemic, I have been very fortunate to be able to transition into my new quarantine and stay-at-home lifestyle because I worked hard to adapt my skills, my service and my physical activities."
Mercedes, Silver participant
"I am volunteering in my community way more and picking up new skills, I never would have picked up."
Berzhia, Silver participant
"Young people can be strong, they can be more than capable, if we all play our part in helping them to fulfill their potential. Help more young people access great non-formal education, achieve the Award and be the young leaders of the future."