Today, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Central American Service Corps (CASC).  The CASC initiative was developed by public, private, and philanthropic partners in response to the Vice President’s Call to Action for northern Central America. CASC—a $50 million initiative, which will be administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—will provide young people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with paid community service opportunities, mentorship, and a path to future employment. Young people are looking for meaningful opportunities to build their futures and CASC is aimed at addressing the range of challenges youth face in the region. By supporting life and job skills, offering hope, and building confidence and a sense of belonging for youth, the CASC initiative will generate leadership potential and help foster optimism among youth in Central America that a better future is possible for themselves and for their communities.
 
This initiative is in support of the U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration in northern Central America, which the Vice President launched in July 2021.
 
Central American Service Corps
 

Through CASC, youth will be offered opportunities to work in their own communities on local priorities such as educational support and tutoring, climate action, food security, green jobs, health education and services, violence prevention, and other civic-engagement activities.
 
CASC will help address the drivers of irregular migration among those most likely to migrate by engaging youth in local driven service opportunities, providing a modest stipend, offering work and life skills acquisition, and enhancing young people’s sense of rootedness and commitment to their communities.
 
Youth service programs harness the energy of young people to meet critical local development needs, while providing them a pathway to education, employment, and a sense of civic responsibility and belonging.  Educated, healthy, employed, and civically engaged youth are critical for driving economic growth, democracy, and prosperity.
 
CASC programs will be funded in part through FY 2022 appropriations, which included $50 million for the  Central America Youth Empowerment Program.  The  initiative is a multi-sectoral effort that will benefit from technical and financial support provided by a wide range of stakeholders in the public, private, and philanthropic sectors.
 
Partnerships
 
USAID’s coordination of CASC will promote the development of a robust network of youth service corps programs in Central America. It builds on a collaboration between USAID, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and Salvadoran NGO Glasswing International on a youth service pilot program which launched in 2021 with $13.2 million provided exclusively by the Buffett Foundation.  CASC also builds on a collaborative effort between the Partnership for Central America (PCA) and Glasswing International to implement a community service program for young adults in the region in response to the Vice President’s Call to Action.
 
Further, Peace Corps will draw upon its experience in partnering with host countries Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Peru to help Glasswing and other partners establish this service initiative.  The Inter-American Foundation will leverage its broad network of civil society grantees and partners in the region to support CASC. 
 
In addition, more than a dozen businesses affiliated with PCA that collectively employ tens of thousands of people across the region have committed to support CASC through such possible activities as matching participants to potential jobs, training and mentoring, facilitating financial inclusion efforts, and direct financial support.

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