OAS, PADF and Government of Colombia Expand Partnership to Provide Safe Spaces for At-Risk Youth in Colombia

  • 22 community centers established since 2011
  • $1.7 million agreement to build six new centers and support
    existing ones

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–With an investment of USD $1.7 million from the Government of Colombia,
the Organization of American States through the Pan American Development
Foundation (PADF) signed an agreement to develop six new community
centers for at-risk youth and provide ongoing support for an existing
network of centers in isolated rural areas and underserved urban
neighborhoods.

Through the OAS, PADF has worked with Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs since 2011 to address the growing number of youth who are being
targeted by criminal networks. By constructing community centers or
“Casas Ludicas,” the goal is to combat and mitigate young people from
being recruited by armed groups and gangs. These centers provide
outreach including psychosocial, remedial education, organized youth and
sports activities, as well as access to computers, books, and family
counseling.

Together, PADF Colombia and the Colombian government have built 22 youth
centers throughout the country, four sport and recreational facilities,
two community cafeterias, one bicycle racetrack, and a rugby field,
serving more than 75,000 families. In partnership with the OAS, PADF has
received nearly $17 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to
carry out this initiative.

“We are pleased to provide a space where Colombian children can safely
pursue education, sports and other healthy activities,” says Luis
Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States.
“These youth centers demonstrate the Colombian government’s commitment
to empowering young people and fostering a new generation of community
leaders.”

This latest grant will provide funding for six youth centers, most of
them located in border areas near Venezuela and Ecuador, in the
communities of Paraguachón-Maicao, Guajira Department; Cartagena,
Bolívar Department; Tibú, Santander Department; Ocaña, Santander
Department; Tumaco, Nariño Department; and Cumaribo, Vichada Department.
Youth centers are located in strategic areas throughout the country with
high incidences of criminal activity. They demonstrate Colombian
government presence and a commitment to serving the needs of the
country’s diverse population, especially at-risk youth.

“These centers serve as focal points for community groups to address
underlying social issues impacting youth and driving many of them into a
life of crime,” says PADF Colombia Country Director Soraya Osorio. “PADF
is pleased to continue its work to support vulnerable youth in Colombia
and to aid in the development of underserved areas in the country.”

PADF implements the grant by constructing the youth centers and
facilitating community engagement. For each center, PADF Colombia works
with local communities and municipal officials to develop a management
and sustainability plan.

ABOUT PADF

The Pan American Development Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit
organization, brings together many stakeholders to improve livelihoods,
empower communities, strengthen civil society, support human rights,
protect the environment and respond to natural disasters in Latin
America and the Caribbean. Established by the Organization of American
States (OAS) in 1962, PADF has worked in every country in the region. In
2014, PADF reached more than 15 million people by investing over $92
million in development resources in 27 Latin American and Caribbean
countries. www.padf.org

About the OAS

Established in 1948, the Organization of American States brings together
all 35 independent states of the Americas and constitutes the main
political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the Hemisphere.
In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 69 states, as
well as to the European Union (EU). The OAS uses a four-pronged approach
to effectively implement its essential purposes, based on its main
pillars: democracy, human rights, security, and development. www.oas.org

Contacts

Pan American Development Foundation (PADF)
Hearly Mayr
Director
of Communications and Public Affairs
+1-202-280-3846
hmayr@padf.org
@hearlymayr
or
Organization
of American States
Mónica Reyes
Press office
+1-202-370-4929
MReyes@oas.org