CEDECUR operates in Cali, the capital of the Valle del Cauca department, and the most populous city in southwest Colombia, with an estimated 2.3 million residents. With a murder rate of 50 per 100,000 people in 2018, Cali ranks as one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Much of the violence is drug or gang-related and perpetrated by young men. After the infamous cartel that once dominated Cali was dismantled in the 1990s, smaller cartels and gangs, known as “oficinas”, continue to rule many neighborhoods, relying on vulnerable teenagers who face more lenient justice than adults if caught.
While the national unemployment rate in Colombia in 2018 hovers around 10%, it is higher among young men aged 14-28 (13.7%) and more than double for young women (23%). One factor explaining this reality is that young people overall lack the technical expertise required for the increasingly specialized labor market. This general lack of skills means that they are only able to find temporary and low paying work. Without viable job prospects, many young people turn to criminal groups and gangs, which offer them an easy and lucrative way to make money. Women face the additional challenge of gender discrimination, as many professions are traditionally thought of for males, consigning women to jobs in the informal sector that provide less security and pay.
CEDECUR was founded in 1982 by a consortium of seven organizations to develop intersectoral community participation models with the poor (mainly young people, women, minority groups and community organizations). Director Luz Helena Arango has 30+ years of experience managing social projects. Gender expert, Claudia Ximena Cubillos has 20 years of relevant experience. CEDECUR seeks to improve the living conditions of the populations they serve through research, consulting, technical assistance, training, and implementation of programs. Their four areas of work with youth include a leadership academy, environmental training, job readiness and income generation training, and agricultural training. What sets CEDECUR’s Brindamos Oportunidades livelihoods training apart from other vocational training programs is that it also provides life skills/personal development training and individual emotional support for each participant, helping them overcomes challenges, complete 3-month internships to gain hands-on experience, and secure employment post-internship. This ongoing support makes a big difference to the young people CEDECUR serves and contributes to program success.
EMpower’s 7th grant to CEDECUR will support training for 50 young people in risk of social exclusion, providing them the chance to acquire the skills required by the private sector in Cali, Colombia, to improve their employability. CEDECUR’s Brindamos Oportunidades program will train 30 young women and 20 young men aged 18-24 in motorbike repair skills, customer care support, and life skills, including improved financial literacy, increased awareness and capacity regarding gender equity and increased access to services to protect their health. The program will provide ongoing follow-up for 123 program graduates from previous years, while also working with families, employers, and local government agencies to create a more supportive environment for participants to pursue their career goals. To strengthen the program’s sustainability, CEDECUR will intensify its fundraising efforts to ensure that at least 20% of the program’s costs are covered by local businesses in 2020.
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