Collaborating Across Generations: Insights, Challenges, and Best Practices

A We Are Family Foundation Global Study

KEY INSIGHTS

believe intergenerational collaboration holds significant value and can generate positive change recognize the powerful potential of youth ideas and solutions in addressing global challenges agree that youth are currently given enough opportunities to lead and contribute to important social issues but only
believe intergenerational collaboration holds significant value and can generate positive change recognize the powerful potential of youth ideas and solutions in addressing global challenges agree that youth are currently given enough opportunities to lead and contribute to important social issues but only

GLOBAL STUDY

Problems that span generations require leadership that does too.

We Are Family Foundation’s (WAFF) groundbreaking Global Study — Collaborating Across Generations: Insights, Challenges and Best Practices (Global Study) — was conducted in late 2023 to better understand global viewpoints and characteristics that are most important for meaningful and impactful collaboration across generations. 

For more than 20 years, WAFF has identified, trained, and amplified young changemakers worldwide through its innovative programs Three Dot Dash, TEDxTeen, Youth To The Front Fund, and Youth To The Table. Through these efforts, WAFF builds powerful ecosystems that propel the impact of this generation’s social entrepreneurs, activists, innovators, creatives, and policy-shapers.

With decades of experience as a pioneering organization in the youth changemaking space, WAFF has witnessed the unique, powerful, and diverse values that youth bring to the table. The fact of the matter is, there are youth experts across all issues: AI, food insecurity, education reform, climate awareness, racial equity, and many more. Understanding how the expertise of young people can effectively collaborate across generations to address the world’s most pressing issues is paramount to our mission. Because problems that span generations require leadership that does too.

Informed by a critical examination of historical youth exclusion, the Global Study’s findings fuel a transformative framework for intergenerational collaboration (IGC). The framework’s Recommendations empower ALL generations to work together more effectively, while its Case Studies provide tangible examples that put these strategies into action.

Through research, understanding, and powerful partnerships across private, public, and social sectors, we take part in a collaborative movement — join us!

 

METHODOLOGY

METHODOLOGY

The Global Study was inspired by WAFF’s observations of working with young people for 20+ years and The Possibilists 2021 Report on the needs of young changemakers. One of the report’s key findings was “the need to connect young social innovators with relevant decision-makers.” The Global Study digs deeper into this issue to identify the best practices to connect and deeply collaborate with “relevant” — and most often older — decision-makers.

The results and Recommendations from the Global Study are rooted in data from a survey developed and conducted over a three-month period in partnership with Vienna University of Economics and Business. The survey questions were developed in collaboration with 24 Youth Study Advisors and adapted for global participation in partnership with 16 Youth Translators.

996 individuals aged 14-74, across 104 countries and diverse intersecting identities, participated in the survey and shared their thoughts.

The Global Study results and Recommendations are further supported by qualitative research from WAFF’s community of young changemakers and the collaborators they engaged with across generations and spaces. In 2023/2024, WAFF orchestrated Delegations of young changemakers in historic international global convening spaces of decision-making — the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). At these Global Convenings, WAFF and WAFF Youth Delegates orchestrated hundreds of opportunities for intergenerational collaborations (see more below on Youth To The Table). Interviews, surveys, and standardized observation methods provided additional qualitative data that complements the quantitative findings.

Recognizing the diversity of definitions surrounding the term “youth,” WAFF has maintained flexibility in our approach. For the Global Study, WAFF considers individuals under the age of 30 as youth, and for Global Convenings and qualitative work, those under the age of 35.

What does collaborating across generations look like in practice?

A youth leader collaborating with a politician to draft new legislation.

An organization establishing an intergenerational committee to provide insights on company culture.

Ensuring equitable representation of youth voices during climate change policy negotiations.

Young professionals serving on a corporate Board of Directors.

Youth helping shape the agenda and framework for a major global convening.

Youth To The Table

Commit to Bringing #YouthToTheTable

The Global Study is bolstered by qualitative research conducted over a year with diverse Youth Delegations at three major global events: the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai and the World Economic Forum (WEF24) in Davos. WAFF Youth Delegates are leaders in their respective fields. They navigate these venues with WAFF Collaborators, leaders of older generations, with whom they foster reciprocal working relationships. These efforts reflect WAFF’s Youth To The Table (YTTT) program, which aims to accelerate sustainable change by deepening intergenerational collaboration between young changemakers and current stakeholders. YTTT began as a beta pilot in 2020, in collaboration with WAFF’s long-standing strategic partner and early advocate for intergenerational collaboration, SAP.

WAFF’s Enduring Partnership with SAP: Empowering Youth Leadership

For over a decade, SAP has been a steadfast partner of WAFF, investing in the development of exceptional young leaders through our signature programs.

In 2020, this collaboration reached new heights with the co-piloted launch of Youth To The Table (YTTT). This innovative program placed WAFF’s talented youth leaders in high-profile advisory roles within SAP and its partner ecosystem, aligning their expertise with strategic needs. The program not only provided valuable data on the effectiveness of intergenerational collaboration, but its success also spurred the official launch of Youth To The Table by WAFF, aiming for broader systemic change.

Today, YTTT partners with policymakers, governments, business leaders, organizations, and corporate partners to create meaningful, accountable, and non-performative opportunities for youth to participate in decision-making across all sectors.

Who Are WAFF Youth & Collaborators?

Meet some remarkable young experts from diverse sectors including healthcare, climate science, and AI policy. WAFF Youth are distinguished in their fields, working across generations to drive innovative solutions forward.

Additionally, meet several WAFF Collaborators — senior leaders and key stakeholders who partner with WAFF Youth to accelerate multigenerational leadership, and tackle some of our most pressing problems.

INSIGHTS: The Value of Youth

To foster intergenerational collaborations within organizations and companies, it is crucial to first understand the competitive advantages youth leaders offer. Through 20 years of experience and an even deeper examination through the Global Study, WAFF has compiled the following list of characteristics as examples of some of the many values that are especially unique to youth.

YOUTH… Possess a Sense of Hopeful Urgency

Like all generations before them, today’s youth inherit a world shaped by the choices of the past. However, there’s a crucial difference: today’s youth face challenges of unprecedented urgency such as climate change. A staggering 83% of young changemakers globally are “worried or extremely worried” about it, according to The Possibilists 2023 Study. This concern is justified. We were supposed to be half way toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by now, yet we’re only 15% of the way there. This urgency fuels both a sense of hope and an innovative spirit, as young leaders know they must play a role in tackling large-scale problems to forge a future for themselves and humanity.

harsh-agrawal-headshot

Harsh Agrawal
India & UK, 20
WAFF Youth Delegate &
Study Translator (Hindi)

“I think a case can be made for young people bringing courage and necessary risk to collaboration. I wonder, as we get older, if our priorities shift. Older generations often have partners, children, mortgages, elderly parents, to tend for.

Alternatively, are many younger folks (at least those with less burdening responsibility) less restricted in where they devote their energy? Giving them a larger appetite for personal risk and more ability to dream outside the systems and execute on those dreams? We are restless and eager to prove ourselves!”

italo-ribeiro-alves-headshot

Italo Ribeiro Alves
Brazil, 31
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“We bring our aspirations and dreams about what the world should be like in the future, and our commitment to peace and justice, which is still drenched in hope when people who have not seen change materialize might have already lost it.”

YOUTH… Demand Accountability

According to a recent Deloitte survey, “Millennials and Gen Z workers seek to hold themselves and others increasingly accountable for their behaviors and attitudes.” For this generation of young changemakers, promises are nothing without action. Youth leaders’ straightforward approach and relentless pursuit of local and global justice have demonstrated their power to be a catalyst for lasting change.

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Tanvi Girotra
India & USA, 32
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Young people haven’t yet been completely embedded into existing structures of business and government that dictate that change is slow and put the burden on the individual instead of the system.

As a result, they are able to question it more deeply and have a chance of disrupting these structures or driving fast, more sustained change in spite of these structures. They’re holding the truth of the way things currently are and are fearlessly pursuing the way things can be, inviting policymakers to abandon their limited, siloed scopes of view, to work across sectors, generations, regions, to address the climate crisis.”

Cyril Kormos-headshot

Cyril Kormos
USA
Founder & Executive Director, Wild Heritage
& WAFF Collaborator

“It’s very easy to fall into ‘traps’ in the climate and biodiversity negotiations which are designed to avoid or delay necessary but politically inconvenient solutions. It’s critical that youth bring in fresh thinking and avoid repeating the mistakes that have been made, and continue to be made, over the last few decades.”

YOUTH… Embody Inclusivity

High-level decision-making has a long history of excluding marginalized voices.  However, young people are leading a charge for change, “rewriting the narrative of the future,” as WAFF Collaborator Paola Del Zotto Ferrari puts it. Recent research by the World Economic Forum supports this, demonstrating how young people’s demand for a more inclusive and equitable workplace is transforming collaboration.

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Umazi Mvurya
Kenya, 29
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Young people, growing up in an increasingly globalized society, have unparalleled access to diverse perspectives and ideas through accessible technology and social platforms. This exposure allows them to challenge stereotypes, foster global friendships, and develop a deep sense of empathy. As a result, they are more likely to advocate for others, even when those individuals are not present, embodying a truly global mindset.”

kasha-slavner-headshot

Kasha Sequoia Slavner
Canada, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate
& Study Advisor

Website

“Policy is often driven by what’s most profitable, short-term gain dominating over long-term sustainability. These systems need to be re-thought and young people are actively imagining what a world that’s equitable, inclusive, and sustainable could look like.”

YOUTH… Are Digital Natives in a Tech-Driven Era

Growing up online, Gen Z are defined as digital natives and have adapted to learn, grow, and build skills in entirely new and accelerated ways. Putting digital natives’ potential for long-term impact into perspective, CNBC positions this generation to represent over 58% of the overall workforce within the following decade. By investing in younger people now, global leaders can sooner harness their technological expertise and unique insights, as we all acclimate to a tech-driven world.

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Luke Christie
USA, 30
Study Advisor

LinkedIn

“Young people tend to be more attuned to both the power and drawbacks of technology. They have experienced firsthand, and from an early age, how social networking online can connect people who might otherwise never meet.

At the same time, many young people are conscious of the ways that most technologies are value-neutral, meaning they can be used for good or harm. In a world mediated by technologies at every turn, we need the perspective of youth — beta testers, if you will — to keep us grounded.”

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Sneha Revanur
USA, 19
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Many adults have proposed responding to online harms by banning social media access, imposing stringent identity verification requirements, or cracking down on permissible speech — a solution set clearly devised by older generations out of touch with the day-to-day realities of social media and unaware of the pro-social role the Internet can have in young people’s lives.

Meanwhile, youth activists in the tech space have pushed back on policy measures that would defang the rights to free speech, information access, and anonymity, instead calling on social media companies to increase user choice on platforms and reduce algorithmic amplification. These are just a few examples of how the youth voice can enrich conversations around the defining challenges of our time. Older leaders that exclude youth risk missing out on this added value.”

Akil-Callender-headshot

Akil Callender
Trinidad and Tobago
Youth Specialist, Sustainable Energy for All
& WAFF Collaborator

“Young people bring an inherent understanding of the applications of modern technology, creativity and curiosity stemming from underexposure to bureaucratic systems, and strong value systems that promote inclusivity and sustainability in their work and lives. When combined, these elements have repeatedly resulted in sustainable and innovative tech solutions with people and planet at the core.”

YOUTH… View Their Emotions as Strengths Not Weaknesses

Today, we live in a world of urgency, grappling with existential crises. In this new landscape, marked by imperative action, young people are advocating for novel approaches to negotiation, campaigning, and storytelling. While neutrality and composure may have been highly valued in the past, in this new era where urgency takes center stage, young people are unapologetically bringing their emotions to the forefront. Research from One Earth indicates that emotions “have a great but currently underexploited potential to contribute to a sustainable behavior change,” and that “far from being irrational, they translate our values and concerns into action.”

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Russell Reed
USA, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Young people possess an unwillingness to separate the emotional and ostensibly professional dimensions of our work. We carry fear, anxiety, hope and optimism with us, and we are unwilling to leave those feelings at the door as we engage in climate work. At a place like COP, our emotions give us power to move people and spark action, in an environment not known for meaningful or rapid change.”

andile-mnguni-headshot-2

Andile Mnguni
South Africa, 22
WAFF Youth Delegate & Board Member
Study Ambassador Lead & Advisor

LinkedIn

“Growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa, I learned very early on that emotions aren’t mere feelings; they’re integral to our survival toolkit. Embracing them allows us to harness their power to drive social transformation and build resilience.

Contrary to misconception, emotions aren’t weaknesses — rather, it’s how we navigate and channel them that defines our strengths and weaknesses. Anger can fuel activism, love drives solidarity, and empathy sustains resilience. Our emotions serve as drivers for social transformation and collective empowerment.”

Reflecting on the unique values and competitive advantages of young leaders, we now explore how all generations can work together towards a brighter future.

We asked.

You answered.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Participants

Age Range

Countries 104

Respondents were representative of the following Countries:

*Number indicates how many respondents represented each country listed.

 

Afghanistan: 3 

Albania: 1 

Angola: 1 

Argentina: 2 

Australia: 2 

Austria: 5 

Azerbaijan: 1 

Bahrain: 1 

Barbados: 2 

Belgium: 1 

Brazil: 106 

Brunei Darussalam: 5 

Bulgaria: 2 

Burundi: 2 

Cambodia: 1 

Cameroon: 18 

Canada: 14 

China: 2 

Colombia: 8 

Comoros: 1 

Congo, Republic of the…: 1

Costa Rica: 1 

Cuba: 1 

Czech Republic: 1 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: 5 

Denmark: 1 

Djibouti: 1 

Ecuador: 1 

Egypt: 2 

El Salvador: 1 

Ethiopia: 2 

Finland: 1 

France: 3 

Germany: 16 

Ghana: 9 

Greece: 1 

Guatemala: 2 

Honduras: 1 

Iceland: 1 

India: 51 

Indonesia: 8 

Ireland: 3 

Israel: 1 

Italy: 7 

Jordan: 2 

Kenya: 39 

Lao People’s Democratic Republic: 15 

Lesotho: 1 

Liberia: 17 

Libya: 1 

Luxembourg: 1 

Madagascar: 1 

Malawi: 6 

Malaysia: 2 

Mauritania: 1 

Mauritius: 2 

Mexico: 6 

Morocco: 3 

Mozambique: 1 

Myanmar: 1 

Namibia: 2 

Nepal: 2 

Netherlands: 11 

New Zealand: 1 

Nicaragua: 2 

Niger: 1 

Nigeria: 32 

Oman: 1 

Pakistan: 11 

Palestine: 2 

Panama: 1 

Peru: 3 

Poland: 4 

Portugal: 4 

Puerto Rico: 42 

Republic of Moldova: 1 

Romania: 6 

Russian Federation: 1 

Rwanda: 3 

Saudi Arabia: 1 

Senegal: 1 

Sierra Leone: 2 

Singapore: 3 

Somalia: 2 

South Africa: 82 

South Korea: 1 

Spain: 5 

Sudan: 2 

Swaziland: 1 

Sweden: 1 

Switzerland: 5 

Tunisia: 3 

Turkey: 15 

Uganda: 25 

United Arab Emirates: 3 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 42 

United Republic of Tanzania: 25 

United States of America: 121 

Venezuela, Bolivaria: 2 

Vietnam: 1 

Yemen: 2 

Zambia: 7 

Zimbabwe: 4

The Global Study was offered in nine languages:

Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili

To ensure accuracy, translations were completed using a combination of online translation tools and the work of 16 Youth Translators.

Respondents were asked to check all that apply: sectors, industries, or fields that best describe their work.

 

Sectors: 

Agriculture

Arts & Entertainment

Communications

Education

Energy

Engineering

Environment & Sustainability

Finance

Food & Beverage

Government

Health / Healthcare

Hospitality

Housing / Shelter

Law / Legal

Manufacturing

Media

Non-Profit

Policy

Politics

Science

Social Work

Technology

 

Industries: 

Athletics / Sports

Coaching 

Consulting 

Event planning

Food security 

Human resources

Information access 

Journalism / Writing

Leadership training

Marketing

Media 

Mental health / Wellbeing 

Public speaking

Urban planning

Venture capital

 

Fields:

AI / Machine learning

Civic engagement

Criminal justice reform

Disability rights

Employment / Vocational training

Ethics 

Gender equity

Human rights

Linguistics / Language

Peace & conflict resolution

Philanthropy

Racial equity

Reform 

Research 

STEM equality & advocacy

Voting & elections

Youth development

55%

Female

41%

Male

3.5%

Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming, or Agender

0.5%

Other

Participants

Age Range14 – 74

Countries 104

Respondents were representative of the following Countries:

*Number indicates how many respondents represented each country listed.

 

Afghanistan: 3 

Albania: 1 

Angola: 1 

Argentina: 2 

Australia: 2 

Austria: 5 

Azerbaijan: 1 

Bahrain: 1 

Barbados: 2 

Belgium: 1 

Brazil: 106 

Brunei Darussalam: 5 

Bulgaria: 2 

Burundi: 2 

Cambodia: 1 

Cameroon: 18 

Canada: 14 

China: 2 

Colombia: 8 

Comoros: 1 

Congo, Republic of the…: 1

Costa Rica: 1 

Cuba: 1 

Czech Republic: 1 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: 5 

Denmark: 1 

Djibouti: 1 

Ecuador: 1 

Egypt: 2 

El Salvador: 1 

Ethiopia: 2 

Finland: 1 

France: 3 

Germany: 16 

Ghana: 9 

Greece: 1 

Guatemala: 2 

Honduras: 1 

Iceland: 1 

India: 51 

Indonesia: 8 

Ireland: 3 

Israel: 1 

Italy: 7 

Jordan: 2 

Kenya: 39 

Lao People’s Democratic Republic: 15 

Lesotho: 1 

Liberia: 17 

Libya: 1 

Luxembourg: 1 

Madagascar: 1 

Malawi: 6 

Malaysia: 2 

Mauritania: 1 

Mauritius: 2 

Mexico: 6 

Morocco: 3 

Mozambique: 1 

Myanmar: 1 

Namibia: 2 

Nepal: 2 

Netherlands: 11 

New Zealand: 1 

Nicaragua: 2 

Niger: 1 

Nigeria: 32 

Oman: 1 

Pakistan: 11 

Palestine: 2 

Panama: 1 

Peru: 3 

Poland: 4 

Portugal: 4 

Puerto Rico: 42 

Republic of Moldova: 1 

Romania: 6 

Russian Federation: 1 

Rwanda: 3 

Saudi Arabia: 1 

Senegal: 1 

Sierra Leone: 2 

Singapore: 3 

Somalia: 2 

South Africa: 82 

South Korea: 1 

Spain: 5 

Sudan: 2 

Swaziland: 1 

Sweden: 1 

Switzerland: 5 

Tunisia: 3 

Turkey: 15 

Uganda: 25 

United Arab Emirates: 3 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 42 

United Republic of Tanzania: 25 

United States of America: 121 

Venezuela, Bolivaria: 2 

Vietnam: 1 

Yemen: 2 

Zambia: 7 

Zimbabwe: 4

The Global Study was offered in nine languages:

Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili

To ensure accuracy, translations were completed using a combination of online translation tools and the work of 16 Youth Translators.

Respondents were asked to check all that apply: sectors, industries, or fields that best describe their work.

 

Sectors: 

Agriculture

Arts & Entertainment

Communications

Education

Energy

Engineering

Environment & Sustainability

Finance

Food & Beverage

Government

Health / Healthcare

Hospitality

Housing / Shelter

Law / Legal

Manufacturing

Media

Non-Profit

Policy

Politics

Science

Social Work

Technology

 

Industries: 

Athletics / Sports

Coaching 

Consulting 

Event planning

Food security 

Human resources

Information access 

Journalism / Writing

Leadership training

Marketing

Media 

Mental health / Wellbeing 

Public speaking

Urban planning

Venture capital

 

Fields:

AI / Machine learning

Civic engagement

Criminal justice reform

Disability rights

Employment / Vocational training

Ethics 

Gender equity

Human rights

Linguistics / Language

Peace & conflict resolution

Philanthropy

Racial equity

Reform 

Research 

STEM equality & advocacy

Voting & elections

Youth development

55%

Female

41%

Male

3.5%

Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming, or Agender

0.5%

Other

Let’s get into
the data.

Of the 996 individuals surveyed, 595 have initiated or participated in an intergenerational collaboration.

The following data is reflective of their experiences, opinions, and perspectives.

Did working intergenerationally add value to your work or process?

Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
By Sector
Public
Private
Social / Non-Profit
x
Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
By Sector
Public
Private
Social / Non-Profit
x

How often do you feel that your participation in an intergenerational collaboration had an influence on meaningful decisions?

Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
By Sector
Public
Private
Social / Non-Profit
x
Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
By Sector
Public
Private
Social / Non-Profit
x

What makes intergenerational collaboration successful?

Most agreed upon individual characteristics

Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x
Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x

Most agreed upon processes

Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x
Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x

CHALLENGES

What obstacles have prevented you from initiating or participating in an intergenerational collaboration?

1) Lack of information about opportunities
2) No such opportunities exist
3) Time constraints
4) Financial constraints
5) Lack of personal motivation or need
6) Lack of backing in my organization

For respondents who identified as marginalized, there were four additional obstacles that stood out significantly:

1) Fear of being rejected / not taken seriously
2) I have experienced bias or stereotypes (race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, etc.)
3) I tried, but did not find the right participants / partners to get started
4) I tried, but was not accepted / valued as a participant

What are the most important individual characteristics that are barriers to successful intergenerational collaboration?

Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x
Total Sample
By Age
<18-30
31-40
41-50
51-60
>61
x

Is there is a risk of youth feeling tokenized when they engage in places of power and influence?

Total Sample
By Age
x
63%

AGREE

A ge <18-30 31-40 4 1-50 5 1-60 >61
67% <18-30 64% 31-40 60% 41-50 67% 51-60 75% >61

When collaborating, do you believe that older participants treat youth as their equals?

Total Sample
By Age
x
28%

AGREE

A ge <18-30 31-40 4 1-50 5 1-60 >61
29% <18-30 35% 31-40 29% 41-50 38% 51-60 15% >61

We asked participants to consider existing intergenerational initiatives and the reasons behind their development.

Why are organizations motivated to collaborate intergenerationally?

71%

hope to access
innovative ideas and
diverse perspectives

Why do underrepresented groups want to participate?

68%

to be heard

Organizations want new ideas.

Underrepresented groups like YOUTH want to be heard.

It’s time to collaborate.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Best Practices for Meaningful Intergenerational Collaboration

As we strive to create collaborations that are meaningful, productive, and non-performative, we invite you to consider and exemplify the following best practices.

Co-Create from Start to Finish

Effective collaboration goes beyond a single meeting. It is about creating multiple opportunities for meaningful engagement. This is what 100% of the WAFF Youth Delegates emphasized. They stressed the importance of multiple touch points within a given project — versus a one-off consultation. From agenda-building and goal-setting, to facilitation and follow-up, do not simply “create” collaboration across generations — co-create it!

andile-mnguni-headshot-2

Andile Mnguni
South Africa, 22
WAFF Youth Delegate & Board Member
Study Ambassador Lead & Advisor

LinkedIn

“I came to understand that many pivotal decisions are formulated long before the delegates arrive. United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) events and processes often function as showcases and platforms to present already-established agendas and achievements, rather than as spaces where decisions are actively negotiated.

This revelation has had a transformative impact on my perspective on how global governance and diplomacy function. It underscores the significance of the work done behind the scenes, in less spotlighted settings, and the need for active engagement in pre-UNGA dialogues and negotiations. This newfound understanding has not diminished the importance of high-level gatherings like UNGA but has raised the necessity of working collaboratively to influence policy and decisions well in advance”.

sneha-revanur-headshot

Sneha Revanur
USA, 19
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“I find that consultative sessions like roundtables, where there is a special emphasis on following up with participants to ensure action on their recommendations, can be effective. For example, I had the honor of joining U.S. Vice President Harris for a roundtable on artificial intelligence (AI), where I spoke about youth priorities for federal AI policy.

I was initially skeptical that my recommendations would have an impact, but was pleasantly surprised when the White House continued to follow up after the meeting to request more resources and solicit my input on related initiatives; I eventually had the opportunity to help shape the later executive order on AI announced by U.S. President Biden. What this tells me is that youth engagement must be a living, breathing relationship that steers clear of tokenization and is not purely one-off.”

Center Lived Experience

Lived experience transcends age, encompassing the unique insights gained from direct engagement with the world. It holds equal importance to knowledge acquired through external sources. This is reflected in the findings of the Global Study, where the majority of respondents emphasized ‘valuing lived experienceas a top attribute for effective intergenerational collaboration. By honoring lived experience in collaboration, we expand our understanding of what is valuable, beyond traditional credentials. In doing so, we welcome diverse perspectives and broaden what is possible.

diana-chao-headshot

Diana Chao
USA, China; 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Lived experience is not confined to age. One of the key findings of the study was that older folks valued competency more, and their accumulated experiences led many to assume that therefore older folks must also be more competent.

But someone can live a more tumultuous, enlightening life in ten years than someone else might live in 50. By having age be the only criterion or differentiator in an IGC conversation, we might accidentally be feeding into that narrative of older = more competent, because age is almost too emphasized to the neglect of everything else that can contribute to a person’s capacity to contribute. Did they grow up in a warzone? Are they disabled? Does the language of their ancestors still exist? So many parts of us add to our ‘value’”. 

sneha-revanur-headshot

Sneha Revanur
USA, 19
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“In spaces rife with credentialism, young people can offer perspectives that are rooted in lived experience. For example, I’ve seen how youth engagement has helped ground discussion of AI policy, in real, tangible harms concerning school surveillance and youth mental health on social media; these are issues that, without youth at the table, might not be brought to light given the limited range of demographics that often have a hand in shaping global policy”. 

Lower Barriers to Entry

When respondents were asked about obstacles that have prevented them from participating or initiating an IGC, lack of information about opportunities and financial constraints were among the top responses. What’s more, younger and marginalized groups reported even higher barriers to participation. By addressing inequities, broadcasting opportunities, ensuring fair compensation, and implementing capacity-building, we can foster a more diverse and successful environment for collaboration.

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Ciara Judge
Ireland, 26
WAFF Youth Delegate
& Study Advisor

Website

“Many older professionals have administrative support that manages their calendars and books their travel. Young people, on the other hand, often juggle these tasks themselves, acting as their own agent, secretary, and publicist. 

This type of logistical support can make a huge difference. Besides providing young people with such support where feasible, it’s crucial to also proactively address their technical needs when necessary. This may involve ensuring they have access to essential tools like a working laptop or the same software as their peers in a collaboration. Finally, young leaders are far less likely to be compensated (monetarily) for their time. Paying young people for their contributions is an immediate solution to lowering the barrier to entry within a collaboration”. 

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David Saddington
UK, 31
WAFF Trustee, UK
& Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Investing in sufficient collaborative pre-work and ensuring that young people have a community of support will allow them to fully show up. This is particularly true of formal spaces and intimidating processes where pre-existing knowledge and connections can be a barrier to fully engaging.”

Avoid Assumptions About Age

The Global Study uncovers a significant obstacle to successful collaboration: age-based assumptions. Respondents across all generations identify this as a major barrier. While ageism affects everyone, only a quarter of respondents believe young people are treated as equals when working with older generations. The Global Study reveals that collaboration thrives when we actively move beyond age-based assumptions and address potential power imbalances related to age. Specifically, it highlights the importance of avoiding the tokenization and devaluation of young people’s contributions.

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Akil Callender
Trinidad and Tobago
Youth Specialist, Sustainable Energy for All
& WAFF Collaborator

“We need to challenge the existing implicit biases that youth lack the knowledge or expertise to contribute to technical conversations, or worse, that their views are passionate, but idealistic and unrealistic.

Although many organizations have taken steps to include youth views in their decision-making processes and procedures, these unconscious biases, when present, can convert opportunities for meaningful intergenerational collaboration into a tokenistic ‘box-ticking’ exercise. It is worth the time to check in and question whether these biases exist before, during and after engaging with youth.” 

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Hayat Muse
USA, Somalia & Kenya; 21
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“To move beyond age-based assumptions, we must leave power structures at the door and step into each room as equals. When colleagues and collaborators of all generations participate in informal activities — like team lunches, collaborative brainstorming sessions, or simply making the effort to get to know each other informally — we are able to weave a tapestry of mutual respect and understanding. These simple interactions dissolve previously and long-held hierarchical boundaries allowing the true value of everyone’s contributions to shine.”

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David Saddington
UK, 31
WAFF Trustee, UK
& Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Decenter age in intergenerational spaces. It might seem strange but we’re able to engage best with each other when we leave titles and assumed power structures at the door. Craft intergenerational spaces as if you’re bringing together people from different sectors with different yet equal expertise and passions. That way you can play to everyone’s strengths while also having a level playing field.”

Mitigate and Repair Harm

Intergenerational collaborations contain power imbalances and can be susceptible to harm. When asked about success factors for IGC, the top response was “ensuring diversity across a variety of factors.” But a diverse collaboration also requires proactive measures to mitigate risks. Create clear discussion guidelines that encourage diverse perspectives. Consider having trained staff available to provide additional context or support. In some cases, a brief overview of relevant cultural contexts may be helpful to ensure inclusivity and respect. Remember — even informal settings warrant attention; despite their value for collaboration, these spaces hold a higher risk for harm!

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Siddhi Pal
India, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“Have strong feedback loops for when you don’t get it right at first — because chances are, you won’t.” 

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Liam McLeavey
New Zealand, 23
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“At the heart of effective intergenerational collaboration lies a partnership of people, all of whom contribute different experiences and perspectives.

It is critical that all voices within the partnership are equally respected to reduce inherent imbalances and maintain psychological and physical safety. While developing rapport, it’s important to respect professional boundaries, especially within age-based power differences. You’d be amazed at what can emerge from an environment where everyone feels safe and valued.”

Be Open to Surprise

Throughout the Global Study, it is clear that all generations value open-mindedness in the context of collaboration. A vast majority of respondents report that keeping an open mind is critical to the success of an IGC, and more than half cite “being ‘stuck’ in personal opinions and ‘ways’” as a major barrier in the process. While our research shows the value in aligning on a concrete objective, we have also found significant value in a shared willingness to remain flexible to new directionsEstablish communication protocols for healthy debate and allow ample time for exploring different ideas. Prioritize informal interactions to build rapport and trust, enabling deeper collaboration.

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Chmba Chilemba
Malawi, 30
WAFF Acting Program Director, Youth To The Front Fund

“Embrace discussions that may only raise questions; seeing the unearthing of social issues also as success.” 

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Diana Chao
USA, China; 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn

“So many times it was a young person who said something deeply profound, that asked us as a whole to reconsider how we are asking the question in discussion in the first place — and this led to sparks of insight and gears so visibly turning.” 

Nile Rodgers Talks Intergenerational Collaboration on CNN International

Footage credits: Handshake Partners / Hub Culture Leadership Lounge, Davos

Young people are changing the game: it’s not breaking news, but it is international news. WAFF extends our gratitude to CNN International for not only shining a light on our YTTT program and Global Study but also amplifying several young voices from the WAFF community on the ground at WEF24 — Youth Delegates David Saddington, Diana Chao, Tanvi Girotra, Harsh Agrawal, Mozamel Aman, Hayat Muse, Liam McLeavy, and Italo Ribeiro Alves. 

87% of respondents agree that youth have ideas and solutions that can improve or solve global issues. Yet only 19% agree that youth are currently given enough opportunities to lead and contribute.

What actions will you or your organization take NOW to change this? 

We have some TIPS!

CASE STUDIES

Over the past two decades, WAFF has proudly worked alongside an ecosystem of diverse partners across public, private, and social sectors who also model intergenerational collaboration in action.

The following case studies outline several successful examples that include the outcomes of these efforts, with added tips for your own implementation!

These case studies act as the beginning of a greater resource that WAFF looks forward to collaboratively evolving this year with anyone invested in working intergenerationally.

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR CASE STUDY TO US!

Leveraging Young Voices and Leadership in Policy and Decision Making: This Is Planet Ed at the Aspen Institute

Leveraging Young Voices and Leadership in Policy and Decision Making

This Is Planet Ed at the Aspen Institute

ABOUT

This Is Planet Ed is an initiative of the Aspen Institute that aims to unlock the power of education as a force for climate action and solutions. The Aspen Institute believes young people will drive the necessary and sustained action we need to address climate change, and we must partner with them to advance a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society. 

In 2023, This Is Planet Ed convened the Higher Ed Climate Action Task Force to chart a course for the higher education sector to build our societal capacity to address climate change. Young people contributed to every key decision in the structure of the Task Force. It is intentionally composed of experts from various age groups, backgrounds, geographies, and areas of expertise, including students, faculty, college presidents, state leaders, policymakers, researchers, and more. 

To build the capacity and knowledge of the Task Force, This Is Planet Ed coordinated a national listening tour. The tour convened leading experts at the intersection of higher education and climate action to better understand the current approaches being taken and the opportunity to scale action across the sector. Each listening session featured a student perspective to emphasize the unique experience of young people in higher education. Task Force members heard from Anya Gandavadi, a student organizer in Texas helping her university adapt to climate change, Kanika Malani, a medical student who helped develop a Planetary Health Report Card, and Sarahi Perez, a young climate activist from the CLEO Institute pushing for campus-wide solutions.  

 

OUTCOMES

  • Task Force members across generations and fields stated the value they received in working intergenerationally and from mutual mentorship.
  • Young leaders on the Task Force contributed significantly to the development of strong, student-centered recommendations for many stakeholders in the higher ed sector.
  • Young Task Force members developed a series of actionable steps for students to take on their campuses to advance climate action. For example, Nathalie Saladrigas, a student at Boston University, is already mapping partner organizations on her campus to implement components of the action plan. 
  • During the listening sessions, young leaders presented alongside national leaders such as Stacey Abrams, informing the recommendations of the Task Force to an audience of thousands nationwide. Following Sarahi’s remarks, Stacey referenced and built upon many of the policy recommendations that Sarahi outlined, such as sustainability housing. 
  • Sector leaders from the Task Force were impressed by Anya, Kanika, and Sarahi during the listening session, and uplifted their insights and innovative approaches to climate action in the final version of the Higher Ed Climate Action Plan. For instance, the Climate Action Plan includes the Planetary Health Report Card, which Kanika created, to show how all disciplines and graduate institutions can incorporate climate change in their curriculum.
  • Jada Walden, a student at Southern University and A&M College, shared her experience on the Task Force and showcased her climate expertise in a Hechinger Report article. In the article, Jada recommends that schools teach climate activism to college students, and to “make it personal for them. Help them connect. It will make a world of difference.”

TIPS

  • Emphasize that everyone’s unique expertise and experience has value through shared norms and equal speaking time. 
  • Offer young leaders one-on-one meetings to explain processes that might otherwise be assumed as understood. On the other hand, be open to one-on-one meetings with individuals from younger generations to dispel assumptions and preconceived notions about intergenerational dialogue. 
  • Incorporate glossaries in materials to explain terms and concepts more commonly used in previous generations to prevent power imbalances.
  • Recognize that young people offer unique lived experiences and expertise. Intentionally seek perspectives from young people from a diverse range of geographical locations and various types of institutions.
  • Provide young leaders with financial compensation for their time and offer financial support for travel and lodging, ensuring ease of travel (for instance, many hotels require a credit card at check-in for incidentals, but incurring that hold may be a barrier for young people). 
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Co-Creating Vision and Strategy: ChangemakerXchange

Co-Creating Vision and Strategy

ChangemakerXchange

ABOUT

At every critical point in their journey, ChangemakerXchange has always leaned on their community of young changemakers. Rather than have an official ‘youth advisory board’ that is composed of a small group, ChangemakerXchange taps into the collective wisdom of their entire diverse network of young leaders. 

Young voices have helped steer their core team’s direction, especially during ChangemakerXchange’s Co-creation Summits. These sessions have been essential at every step of their decision-making, from defining their response to the climate crisis and developing their theory of change, to writing their vision statement word for word.

During their 2020 virtual Co-creation Summit, they gathered young community members from over 50 countries to help them craft a new vision statement for ChangemakerXchange. In the first session, they used divergent and convergent thinking to capture the essence of their vision. In the second session, participants translated their ideas into a clear vision statement. Each cohort developed their own vision statement, which ChangemakerXchange later refined into a unified statement with input from the entire community.

 

OUTCOMES

  • The final vision statement reads: “We envision a world where everyone is part of inclusive communities in which people connect deeply and co-create positive action to serve the wellbeing of people and planet.” This collaborative process transformed ChangemakerXchange’s vision and resulted in a completely different outcome than they would have had without intergenerational leadership.
  • Their new vision has led to a pivot in their strategic direction to focus on deeper engagement of their existing members, rather than focus on simply adding many new members. Additionally, it has resulted in the implementation of local, on-the-ground programs, rather than only online offerings for the entire global membership. This has ultimately led ChangemakerXchange to scale, deepen their reach and impact, and make their work more accessible and inclusive.
  • These intergenerational Co-creation Summits have also sparked new programs around urgent issues like the climate crisis, such as their ‘Changemakers for the Planet’ program, which has since supported over 200 young climate activists and innovators.
  • Many young community members have even taken on leadership roles within the staff — consulting, facilitating key processes, and having the final say on key decisions around corporate partnerships.
  • Numerous young leaders have also launched new initiatives across the globe inspired by their co-creation experiences, including over 10 local youth-led efforts themed around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • A young changemaker in North America launched a leadership retreat for individuals who have historically marginalized identities.
  • Another young changemaker has built a network of grassroots organizations that support underprivileged children in Kenya.
  • A young changemaker in Nigeria is leading a program to advocate for their education system to better serve the needs of young people with different abilities. These are few of many examples that prove young people are eager to lead the way to positive change.

TIPS

  • Make the process enjoyable with moments for human connection and fun.
  • Go beyond formal structures like boards to engage young people. Facilitate online and asynchronous participation to increase accessibility and inclusion.
  • Cater to different learning preferences to ensure inclusive participation.
  • View and frame participants as ‘experts in their field who also happen to be young.’ Put them on a genuine eye-to-eye level with adult participants, rather than focusing on their age.
  • Provide clear follow-up and support to maintain momentum and implement outcomes.
  • Encourage creativity and flexibility in the process to allow for unexpected insights and ideas.
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Supporting Junior Climate Negotiators from Least Developed Countries: International Institute for Environment and Development

Supporting Junior Climate Negotiators from Least Developed Countries

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

ABOUT

Since 2021, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) — in partnership with ENDA Energie, the Prakriti Resources Centre, and Legal Response International — has been working to secure a stronger voice for a new generation of negotiators at the frontlines of climate change. They provide in-depth training and support to Junior Negotiators from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Junior Negotiators also attend night school training provided by the Women’s Environment and Development Organization, during which they participate in negotiation simulations.

During the two-year program, the Junior Negotiators attend two sessions of the annual United Nations Conference of Parties, and two mid-year subsidiary negotiations in Bonn. One-on-one reciprocal mentorship is a central pillar of the program. Senior LDC Negotiators help Junior Negotiators navigate the complexities of the UNFCCC process and facilitate their engagement, as they exchange insights and lived experiences to learn from each other. In between sessions, IIED organizes a virtual mock LDC Group Strategy Meeting, providing the crucial opportunity for mentees to reflect on the progress at subsidiary meetings, consolidate their understanding of their negotiation topics, and better understand linkages and trade-offs across topics to adequately prepare for participation at COPs. IIED staff also provides extensive logistical and financial support, which is often a barrier for young people attending and participating in global conferences and negotiations. IIED is currently supporting a cohort of 12 young delegates, 10 of whom are women. All 12 Junior Negotiators attended LDC group meetings, ten provided updates or reports to their national delegations, and more than half of the trainees delivered progress updates in LDC Group coordination meetings.

 

OUTCOMES

  • An independent evaluation provided convincing evidence that the entire current cohort applied their knowledge and skills to advocate for LDC positions during numerous informal and formal meetings. 
  • During COP28, a Junior Negotiator from Rwanda represented the LDC Group’s position on transparency related to reporting on climate action and support. Her strategic intervention led to the position to be reflected in the text. Another Negotiator organized and led an event to educate on the subject of Loss and Damage. A Senior Mentor stated, “The level of policy influence and activism exerted by mentees is outstanding…”
  • More than half of the current cohort have already leveraged their training to influence policy and engage in further activism beyond COP. Many Negotiators made such an impression, they were asked to brief their national delegations and country ministers, as well as draft ministerial statements for their country.
  • A Negotiator from Madagascar has been recruited to draft statements for Ministerial interventions at two high-level events. Another is currently writing a policy brief on their nation’s positions on the priority negotiation themes, which will be shared with the government and distributed nationwide.
  • A Negotiator from Burkina Faso spearheaded the country’s submission to the G77+ China Group, which has significant potential to influence international policy.
  • One Negotiator worked on their country’s Adaptation Report, which directly impacts national policy and their approach to UN climate negotiations.
  • Another has been appointed as a UNFCCC official Roster Expert, which gives them an opportunity to become a reviewer for the Enhanced Transparency Framework. 
  • Negotiators continue to engage in activism even from outside the government, from working within their own nonprofit organization to integrate climate change into the national curriculum, to fundraising for climate outreach activities for youth across their country.
  • Several have organized dialogues to inform youth in their country about the conversations during COP, such as a Negotiator from Rwanda who organized a Youth Climate Dialogue in partnership with a youth-led NGO following COP28.
  • Overall, the program is nurturing a new generation of climate negotiators, and further proving their capability to shape climate action on a national and international scale.

TIPS

  • Tailor any youth engagement or training to the individuals involved, recognizing that success means different things to different people and that everyone is starting from a different place.
  • Design a thoughtful and intentional pairing process to facilitate strong relationships, and provide opportunities for learning and engagement at regular intervals. The success of mentoring depends on the bond that is created between mentor and mentee.
  • Implement a monitoring and evaluation process to gain insights into how the young participants experience the support they are getting and what can be improved or strengthened.
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Generations in Collaboration: Ingka Young Leaders Forum

Generations in Collaboration

Ingka Young Leaders Forum (YLF)

ABOUT

In 2021, the Ingka Group established the Ingka Young Leaders Forum (YLF) as a dedicated space for young leaders to voice their opinions, challenge norms, and offer candid insights directly to the company’s principal decision-makers. This initiative was inspired by a dinner hosted by the Ingka Group, Drive Agency, and The B Team, where the leadership was incredibly impressed by the meaningful intergenerational dialogue. The initiative focuses on shared learning and mutual benefits, ensuring that the voices of the next generation are not only heard, but are integral in shaping Ingka’s future business practices and policies. The Ingka YLF has unfolded over three years (2021-2024) and is composed of more than 20 young leaders aged between 17 and 30 years old from various countries, including Australia, Argentina, Canada, China, France, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Moldova, Morocco, the UK, and the USA. These Young Leaders have founded organizations, led movements, and built platforms that address pressing global issues like climate change, social justice, and economic disparity. They also sit on various advisory councils, including the United Nations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the Global Center for Adaptation. 

The Forum’s gathering of diverse and often divergent perspectives has fostered a dynamic and sometimes challenging dialogue, embodying the Forum’s commitment to authentic and transformative conversations. Ingka’s senior leaders and YLF’s Young Leaders co-create strategies that are both actionable and transformational, in a vibrant ecosystem where mentorship thrives, rapid feedback is seamlessly integrated, and diverse perspectives on Ingka’s response to geopolitical issues are readily available. Without traditional hierarchical constraints, YLF’s Young Leaders have contributed to more effective programming and fostered intergenerational exchanges that challenge the status quo. Young leaders have proven to be a convincing and powerful voice in these spaces.

 

OUTCOMES

  • Since its inception, the YLF has led 9 Forum Meetings covering critical issues such as Climate Justice, Circular Economy, Fair and Equal Practices, Net Zero Targets, Sustainable Consumption, Corporate Transparency, and Human-centric Technology and AI. Young Leaders contributed to policy formulation and strategic direction to ensure equity across Ingka’s internal and external business practices. Youth insights were incorporated into many efforts, including the Ingka ED&I Plan.
  • The establishment of dedicated working groups has been instrumental in deepening engagement and producing tangible outcomes. For example, in the Transparency Working Group, a selected group of the Forum’s Young Leaders worked with Ingka’s Reporting team to review the Annual Summary and Sustainability Report two years running, contributing insights and recommendations that strengthened Ingka’s business disclosure, including more transparency in progress benchmark. Their independent opinions are also featured in the report (p.9). (FY22 and FY23)
  • Engagements around significant events like the United Nations Conference of the Parties and NYC Climate Week have provided valuable platforms for Ingka’s leaders and the Young Leaders to share networks and collaborate on global sustainability initiatives. The Young Leaders’ participation during these events has not only amplified the impact of Ingka’s sustainability efforts but also positioned youth as pivotal contributors to global discussions on sustainability.
  • One of many examples is YLF’s insights and active participation in dialogues around climate solutions such as Action Speaks, a platform where impactful, scalable climate solutions will be showcased, to inspire and accelerate more action. The Young Leaders were key in fostering co-engagement between Ingka leadership and the global youth in the critical surrounding discussions.

TIPS

  • Curate young leaders from various backgrounds and identities when seeking out young advisors. Divergent perspectives may foster challenging conversations, but it is those challenging conversations that lead to growth and progress. The diversity of the YLF is certainly a contributing factor to its success.
  • Leverage young people’s specific areas of expertise, professional experience and knowledge. Understand all they have to contribute, beyond their age. Young leaders in the Forum also have a range of work experience and sectors. Some have experience as activists on the frontlines, while some have sat in numerous boardrooms.
  • Remove the traditional hierarchical constraints that exist within most large organizations. Barriers such as a long top-to-down communication process may deter youth from sharing their insights and slow progress at large. Creating space for direct dialogue between senior and young leaders — whether at a dinner gathering or in a formal forum — propels change in a faster, more authentic way, and fosters proactive youth engagement.  
  • Define clear roles and establish dedicated working groups. Assigning clear tasks for a specific working group or ensuring the young leaders’ feedback is actionable and concrete helps to accomplish solid outcomes.
  • Give young leaders agency as ambassadors to engage in inter-organizational, cross-sector, and global meetings, not just behind the scenes. 
  • Incorporate the ideas and criticisms of younger generations when developing diversity and equity strategies, as they have grown up in a different world, and their input is both necessary and valuable.
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Helping the World Run Better Together: SAP and Youth

Helping the World Run Better Together

SAP and Youth

ABOUT

As a global leader in innovation, SAP’s purpose as a company remains steadfast: Help the world run better and improve people’s lives. This commitment is central to SAP’s business strategy and at the forefront of its 107,000+ employees representing 157 nationalities and cultures. It is the job of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) team to ensure that the company’s social sector (nonprofit) investments bring this purpose to life. 

For the last five years, SAP has been working alongside We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) to ensure that young social entrepreneurs have become an integral part of the CSR team’s decision-making process. Now a key step during the strategic planning, most partnerships the CSR team oversees include consultancy from these young experts selected from a diverse global ecosystem of leaders. From large multi-million-euro partnerships like UNICEF to regional programs operating at a city or country level, SAP continues to ensure that youth are considered decision makers at all stages of the corporate social responsibility program design, selection, and implementation process. Roles and responsibilities are defined, and SAP has established a payment structure to ensure fair, consistent compensation for the time and expertise of all youth consultants. 

 

OUTCOMES

  • In partnership with our young leaders, SAP CSR program offerings and overall ability to deliver social and environmental impact continue to deepen. This program has helped to transform investments across sectors.
  • An example in SAP’s CSR education portfolio is a youth-led platform, yoma. Powered by Goodwall and in partnership with Generation Unlimited, yoma is at the center of a global movement to advance individualized education and employment pathways for underserved young people. 

  • In Germany, SAP has partnered with Mozamel Aman, WAFF Youth Delegate at the 2024 World Economic Forum and the CEO of StartSteps — a transformative platform that guides aspiring tech professionals towards fulfilling career paths. StartSteps’ innovative business model combines public resources alongside SAP’s, enhancing education and employment opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women, while meeting the talent needs of tech employers at the same time. 

  • Social and private sector partners of SAP continue to change the way they work with young leaders based on experiences engaging in this new model. Partners have started to adapt the intergenerational methodology of ensuring youth experts are at the table, many of which are already transforming the efficacy of programming.
  • One of many thriving youth advisory groups is part of Social Enterprise World Forum. These leaders help guide the organization’s content and strategy, and have been instrumental in ensuring that 18-20% of speakers for the Annual Conference in 2023-2024 are under 30. 

TIPS

  • Engage young social entrepreneurs — not just young people — who bring relevant expertise, fresh perspective, lived experiences, and innovation to the table. This is the key to success.
  • Reach out to your sustainability or corporate social responsibility leaders and begin the dialogue to see how young social entrepreneurs can improve your social and environmental impact — and get something started. Connect with intermediaries like We Are Family Foundation and ChangemakerXchange, which have formal youth-to-corporate programs in place to help you.
  • Connect with your strategy department and understand the big bets your company is making in the future. Ask how young leaders with expertise in those areas might benefit your future growth strategy.
  • Find executive level support for intergenerational collaboration, while also creating peer support across the organization. If you start at the top and create momentum at the bottom, you will eventually thaw the frozen middle of your organization currently resistant to change.
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Empowering Youth for Climate Action: Connect4Climate | World Bank Group

Empowering Youth for Climate Action

Connect4Climate (C4C) | World Bank Group

ABOUT

Connect4Climate (C4C) is a World Bank Group Program that drives climate action through advocacy, partnerships, and creative communications. The transformative power of youth is pivotal and they are essential partners in the fight against climate change, which C4C recognizes through a commitment to elevate young climate leaders and celebrate their potential to both inspire and take ambitious climate action. C4C has been amplifying the voices of young people for over a decade, so it’s heartening to see meaningful youth engagement increasingly integrated into formal climate decision-making processes.

The most impactful C4C initiatives include: 1) The #YouthTakeover initiative, which empowers journalism and communication students worldwide to manage C4C’s social media during key climate events; 2) The Youth4Climate Driving Ambition event held in Milan, which gathered two youth delegates from each UNFCCC member country to work with policymakers and demand climate action prior to the UN COP conference; 3) The Max Thabiso Edkins Climate Ambassador Program, presented by Connect4Climate and the Y2Y Global Youth Climate Network, which catalyzes youth climate leadership by equipping ambassadors from across the world with in-depth understanding of climate change as well as how to creatively communicate this knowledge for both local and worldwide audiences. The program engages 150 Youth Ambassadors each year from across the globe; 4) C4C’s Youth4Innovation Initiative, which engages young climate advocates and private sector leaders in intergenerational collaborative efforts towards sustainability and innovation. 

 

OUTCOMES

  • From Singapore and Bangkok, to New York to Madrid, #YouthTakeover has produced creative digital content, engaged youth in hands-on workshops, and initiated collaborations with C4C on reflection articles.
  • Young participants contributed pieces for Connect4Climate’s website, interviewed World Bank Senior Leadership representatives, and took over the World Bank’s corporate Instagram channel. This initiative leverages the creativity, digital proficiency, and authentic voices of young people to create engaging and relevant content. Their fresh perspectives have inspired even wider youth engagement and brought innovative approaches into global conversations around climate change.
  • A result of the Youth4Climate Driving Ambition event was the Youth4Climate Manifesto, a visionary document crafted by delegates from across the globe. Young people were integral in creating the Manifesto, which inspired contests and new entrepreneurial programs in the following years.
  • One of many outcomes they inspired was the Youth4Climate: Call for Solutions, a platform for young people to present their projects in different thematic areas.
  • Over the past two years, the Max Thabiso Edkins Climate Ambassadors have generated over 500 climate actions impacting local communities. A few of many examples include: a Youth Ambassador from Somalia who produced a weekly radio show titled “Protecting Our Future: Advocating for the Environment”; an Ambassador from Pakistan who organized a clean-up drive along the Jhelum River Bank, and two Ambassadors from Indonesia and Yemen, who co-organized “Voice on Climate,” a YouTube audio podcast informing the public on climate change and the importance of climate action. 
  • In April 2024, C4C hosted the Youth4Innovation: Design Thinking for Climate Action workshop in Turin, Italy during Planet Week — a series of events leading up to the G7 Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment. The workshop connected 40+ young climate champions from 13 countries with 35+ private sector leaders. There was a dynamic exchange of ideas for a sustainable future and a collaborative development of new solutions and green job opportunities. As an outcome of this collaborative work, a company from the transport sector is reorganizing packaging and other logistics on trains, further contributing to sustainable practices. 

TIPS

  • Leverage social media to empower youth to advocate for climate action. The #YouthTakeover initiative shows how giving young people the reins to manage social media during key climate events can amplify their voices, projects and ideas, and that young people can engage a broader audience in the conversation.
  • Engage youth in policymaking by facilitating opportunities for young people to work directly with policymakers. Events like the Youth4Climate Driving Ambition demonstrate the importance of including youth in formal decision-making processes to ensure their perspectives and demands for climate action are heard and acted upon.
  • Promote capacity-building and creative climate communications by equipping young climate leaders with skills and climate knowledge. Programs like the Max Thabiso Edkins Climate Ambassador Program provide Youth Ambassadors with tools that enable them to spread awareness and take climate action through innovative projects such as podcasts, radio shows and clean-up drives.
  • Foster collaboration between young advocates and established leaders from various sectors. Initiatives like Youth4Innovation bring together youth and private sector leaders to co-create solutions and sustainable innovations.
  • Highlight youth-led success stories by sharing and celebrating the impactful actions taken by young people in the climate action space. Showcasing examples through youth-led media content on Connect4Climate’s platforms not only inspires others but also demonstrates the tangible difference youth are making in their communities and beyond.
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Indigenous Teachings Reach New Audiences Through Comic Storytelling: Rewriting Earth

Indigenous Teachings Reach New Audiences Through Comic Storytelling

Rewriting Earth

ABOUT

Paul Goodenough is an award-winning and Emmy-nominated writer and producer, bestselling author, and the founder of Rewriting EarthIn 2021, Paul wanted to include First Nation stories in his comic stories anthology — “The Most Important Comic Book on Earth.” 

In thought partnership with Lakota elder Jyoti Ma and Hollywood actor Moses Brings Plenty, Paul envisioned story ideas to highlight traditional Indigenous teachings and the very real connection that exists between all living things. Paul then asked two talented creatives in their 20s to collaborate on the project — comic artist Zoe Thorogood and author Sarah Florence Lord to help bring their vision to life. The result was “LESSONS FROM THE LAKOTA,” a beautiful three-page comic story, which conveys the sense of awe at the interconnectedness and perfection of the living world. The shape of the groove in the ground, for example, is formed by cows’ hooves and provides the best possible home to grow seeds. Elephant dung, and its multiple benefits to the integrity of the African savanna ecosystem, is another one of countless examples of the mind-blowing interconnectedness of species and ecosystems. 

 

OUTCOMES

  • The anthology became an overnight #1 bestselling hit and a Sunday Times Book of the Year.
  • Largely contributing to the anthology’s success was “LESSONS FROM THE LAKOTA,” which was born from an intergenerational collaboration.
  • More than 200 copies of the book were distributed to indigenous tribes and native communities across America, showcasing a new way to shine a light on the value of indigenous practices. 
  • Zoe’s art made such an impression, the comic helped propel her into mainstream comics. At age 26, she has been nominated for an Eisner Award in five categories, and been ranked by Forbes in “The Best Graphic Novels of 2022” category.
  • As the comic was developed during the 2020 pandemic, Jyoti and Moses weren’t familiar with remote collaboration. Sarah, Zoe, and Paul played an integral role in guiding Jyoti and Moses to virtually work together. Without the effective processes put into place by the younger collaborators, the story wouldn’t have been the same success.
  • The story raised money and awareness for key initiatives of seven conservation charities. For example, as part of a bigger social media campaign, the story contributed to the World Land Trust’s “Guardians of Nimla Ha’” campaign to reach their most ambitious appeal ever and exceed their fundraising target. This enabled them to safeguard and preserve 1,668 acres of Guatemala’s Laguna Grande Reserve – a “paradise” network of forests, wetland and mangroves, which is home to 700+ species.
  • Beyond its success and contributions towards sustainability goals, Paul hopes “LESSONS FROM THE LAKOTA” brings the same sense of awe to people that he felt while speaking with Jyoti Ma.

TIPS

  • Be open to adapting your process when collaborating across generations. Even more, be open to learning new strategies and mediums of working. From the start, identify and discuss your strengths, and where you may need support or guidance.
  • Focus on recruiting a diverse team of collaborators, not just on engaging younger creatives in a collaboration. Insights and contributions from various backgrounds, lived experiences and perspectives will lead to art that impacts a more diverse audience.
  • Take the important first step to learn about your younger or older co-creator’s artistic taste and inspirations. What inspires them to create? What attracts them to a story or piece of art and turns them off? Understanding each other will facilitate the creative process and produce content that resonates across generations.
  • Strategize with a younger person how your art or story can “go viral” or become part of something bigger, as we are in a world where it is second nature for younger generations to leverage social media as a tool for widespread comms. For example, perhaps your art or story can be part of a campaign for a greater social cause.
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Ensuring Young People Are Included in External Event Participation: We Are Family Foundation

Ensuring Young People Are Included in External Event Participation

We Are Family Foundation (WAFF)

ABOUT

Over the last year, as part of their Youth To The Table program, We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) brought 28 Youth Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78), The Conference of Parties (COP28), and the World Economic Forum (WEF24). WAFF secured badge access for their youth delegates at these convenings, arranged pre- and post-convening training opportunities, provided resources for community-building, and covered all associated costs including travel, accommodation and meals.

WAFF worked diligently to ensure that each Youth Delegate could engage in as many active participation roles as they desired, whether speaking on panels, moderating sessions, or hosting workshops. Additionally, WAFF paired each Youth Delegate with several established experts known as “Collaborators”. Together, they engaged in co-creation, co-advising, and reciprocal mentoring throughout their intergenerational leadership journeys, both preceding and following each event.

 

OUTCOMES

  • Through YTTT, WAFF Youth Delegates engaged in 200+ spaces and activities.
  • While the full impact of these experiences is still unfolding, initial highlights include: one delegate successfully securing high-level signatories on national legislation against plastic pollution, several delegates receiving job offers from Fortune 500 companies, multiple delegates obtaining seats on Boards of Directors, various delegates providing ongoing consultancy to organizations to enhance youth involvement in their boards and policies, and media coverage in international publications such as Forbes, CNN International, EuroNews and Billboard.
  • With 200 Collaborators and 60 companies from 42 countries invested, WAFF’s YTTT program catalyzed significant attitude shifts towards intergenerational collaboration among senior leaders across sectors. Now, our delegates are collaborating to actively shape agendas for future global gatherings, ensuring they have an initial say in shaping global discussions and outcomes.

TIPS

  • Offer individualized support recognizing that each young person may be interested in different types and levels of engagement, and may desire different types of support and capacity building.
  • Advocate for meaningful involvement on young people’s behalf when securing opportunities for them during the event, ensuring that they are not tokenized and are taken seriously by the organizer.
  • Build and implement a system of peer-to-peer learning and care.
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Bridging Generations: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Board Leaders — Fora: Network for Change

Bridging Generations: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Board Leaders

Fora: Network for Change

ABOUT

Fora created the Rise on Boards program in 2017 to empower emerging leaders to take their first steps in governance by placing them on nonprofit boards across Canada. Formerly known as Girls on Boards, the program has successfully trained and placed over 195 diverse leaders between the ages of 18 and 25, who bring fresh perspectives and champion gender equity in decision-making processes. 

Participants, known as Young Directors, receive in-depth training from expert facilitators on topics including governance, finance, fundraising, advocacy, professional communications, problem-solving, and leadership. Over 28 hours of training ensures participants are well-prepared to meaningfully contribute their expertise to board discussions and decisions. Each Young Director is then matched with a governance board where they serve a one-year term as a director. 

Young Directors receive continuous support through one-on-one, reciprocal mentorships with senior professionals who are committed to their leadership and career development. Reciprocal mentorship is a cornerstone of the program, fostering intergenerational collaboration as coaches and seasoned board members invest in both nurturing and learning from the next generation of leaders. Mentors and Young Directors exchange their experiences and insights, while Mentors provide organizational knowledge and guidance to help Young Directors grow.

Another valuable aspect of the program is regular opportunity for Young Directors to connect with and learn from fellow Young Directors, creating a supportive community of peer mentorship. The diversity of the 195 Young Directors represents the intersectionality of experiences and insights that is both valuable and necessary in all boardrooms. By placing emerging young leaders in these positions, the Rise on Boards program facilitates them to make significant contributions to their communities and drive meaningful change. Overall, the Rise on Boards program showcases the power of intergenerational collaboration and the positive impact of fostering diverse leadership in governance.

 

OUTCOMES

  • When a board mentor was asked what they will take away from the experience, they shared that “more young people deserve to be in governing roles — their perspectives, approaches, and worldviews are critical for systemic change.”
  • A previous Young Director commented, “…Prior to this, I thought the idea of boards was kept very inaccessible, to the point where a lot of my cohort and I were not even sure about what a board is or does. Fora helps boards not only become more diverse, but help boards reflect the communities they wish to serve.” 
  • Another Young Director noted, “I think many organizations are beginning to seek out young leaders and recognize the value and importance of their contributions. Once they realize, they often don’t know where to go. How can they make these connections with the right people? Fora is that bridge. Fora is the connector. Fora provides both parties, individual and board, with the opportunities that they’re looking for in order to generate more meaningful social impact.” This highlights both the program’s role as an intergenerational facilitator, the need for such facilitators, and the potential results of simply bridging organizations with young leaders. 
  • Over 123 governance boards across Canada have participated in the program, benefiting from the perspectives, energy, and expertise of these Young Directors. 
  • One of many examples is Rise on Boards Alum, Meena Waseem, who was placed on the board of the Sexual Assault Centre of Kingston (SACK). During her time on SACK’s board, she took part in developing the organization’s Strategic Plan for the next five years. Meena led the wellbeing pillar of the plan, strategizing how the organization could support its staff to maximize support for their clients. She leveraged her passion and expertise in mental health, human resources management, accessibility, and service delivery to create an effective way forward.

TIPS

  • Experiential Learning Opportunities: Create hands-on leadership opportunities through board placements or similar roles. These real-world experiences allow emerging leaders to apply their skills and learn directly from their involvement in governance. 
  • Diverse Recruitment: Actively recruit participants from diverse backgrounds, including racialized communities, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, individuals living with disabilities, immigrants, low-income households, first-generation college students, and Indigenous communities. This inclusivity enriches the collaborative environment with a wide range of perspectives and experiences. 
  • Mentorship Programs: Establish a robust mentorship program where experienced professionals can guide and support young leaders, while being open to learning. One-on-one mentorship helps bridge the gap between generations and provides invaluable insights. 

  • Iterative Program Design: Engage participants throughout the duration of the program or project to gather feedback and incorporate it into program design each year to strengthen program impact. 

  • Holistic Training: Ensure that training spans across generations — doing so ensures that the young program participants are better set-up for success by working with people and systems that are prepared to engage youth both equitably and inclusively. 
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CONCLUSION

We Are Family Foundation began with a powerful belief: YOUTH are the key to building a more peaceful world.

For two decades, WAFF has empowered and supported remarkable youth leaders from 100+ countries on six continents in their efforts to make a difference – locally and globally. 

They are addressing so many of the world’s challenges, from climate change to social justice, and AI to education reform. The list is long…but with each effort, the world becomes a better and more peaceful place. 

They are focused, dedicated, and don’t know the word “NO.” Most are addressing solutions to issues that are affecting them directly or those close to them. There is no greater incentive to create change than a personal experience. Over and over again, we have seen first-hand the creativity and innovation that youth leaders bring to problem-solving. 

We strongly believe youth leaders deserve respected seats at decision-making tables — spaces that dictate the future of our planet. Intergenerational collaboration is the way forward. 

WAFF embarked on “Collaborating Across Generations: Insights, Challenges, and Best Practices” to explore the beliefs, challenges, and value of intergenerational collaboration from people across the globe, of all ages, sectors, and intersections.

The Global Study’s “Key Insights” reflect our lived experiences over the last 20 years working with youth leaders: most people believe intergenerational collaboration is of great value; most people believe youth have powerful solutions to global challenges; and very few believe youth are provided opportunities to participate in key decision-making spaces.

The Global Study is not an ending. It is a living, evolving exploration that will remain relevant in our fast-changing world. The “Recommendations” represent a baseline that will continue to develop, and “Case Studies” will continue to be added, highlighting organizations that are incorporating intergenerational collaboration into their business culture and zeitgeist.

Please integrate and share this information to continue the conversation. Reach out to the WAFF Team or youth leaders to discuss how to best implement intergenerational collaboration within your organizations.

We take pride in pioneering a new intergenerational leadership model — one that elevates young voices and fosters collaboration across generations. 

It is our collective responsibility to be good stewards of our planet. We can only do that with EVERYONE seated at the table.

We Are Family,

Nile Rodgers & Nancy Hunt

Co-Founders

We Are Family Foundation

WAFF Youth Advisory Committee

This Global Study reflects a truly intergenerational approach. 

Over the past year, WAFF actively engaged and compensated 30 Youth Ambassadors, 24 Youth Study Advisors, and 16 Youth Translators, ensuring their valuable contributions shaped the study’s development, adaptation, and dissemination.

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Raphaele Godhino
Brazil, 23
Study Ambassador & Translator (Portuguese)

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Taha Vahanvaty
USA, India; 21
Study Advisor

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Laalitya Acharya
USA, 20
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Anna Pertl
Germany, 22
Study Translator (German)

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Hayat Muse
USA, Somalia & Kenya; 21
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Ali Senhaji
Morocco & Finland, 28
Study Translator (Arabic)

Website
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Miguel Angel Herrera Vivar
Ecuador, 31
Study Advisor

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Jeremiah Thoronka
Sierra Leone, 23
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Siddhi Pal
India, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Erin Smith
USA, 24
Study Advisor & WAFF Youth Delegate

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Michelle Oyoo Abiero
Kenya, 22
Study Translator (Kiswahili)

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Liam McLeavey
New Zealand, 23
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Mirus Ponon
Philippines, 23
Study Ambassador

Website
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Paige Brocidiacono
USA, 24
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Tanvi Girotra
India & USA, 32
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Rocío del Mar Avilés-Mercado
Puerto Rico, 24
Study Ambassador & Translator (Spanish)

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Davidson Mundt
Netherlands, 19
Study Translator (German)

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Mozamel Aman
Afghanistan & Germany, 27
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Jefferson Kangacha
Kenya, 25
Study Advisor & WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Sneha Revanur
USA, 19
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Lívia Maria Souza da Silva
Brazil, 20
Study Ambassador

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Priyanka Shrestha
Nepal, 23
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Luke Christie
USA, 30
Study Advisor

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Russell Reed
USA, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Alisha Zhao
USA, 25
Study Translator (Mandarin Chinese)

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Italo Ribeiro Alves
Brazil, 31
WAFF Youth Delegate

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Andile Mnguni
South Africa, 22
WAFF Youth Delegate & Board Member
Study Ambassador Lead & Advisor

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Oluwaseyi Moejoh
Nigeria, 22
WAFF Youth Delegate

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David Saddington
UK, 31
WAFF Trustee, UK
& Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Angela Busheska
North Macedonia, 21
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Diana Chao
USA, China; 25
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Louise Ferreira
Brazil, 22
Study Translator (Portuguese)

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Yashasvi Raj
USA, 23
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Arantxa Gally
Mexico & Spain, 30
Study Advisor & Translator (Spanish)

LinkedIn
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Ziyaan Virji
Tanzania, Kenya, India, Canada; 22
Study Ambassador & Translator (Hindi)

LinkedIn
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Reuben Reeves
Liberia, 23
Study Ambassador

Instagram
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Forsi Ferdinand
Cameroon, 23
Study Translator (French)

LinkedIn
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Rachel Parent
Canada, 24
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Ishita Singhal
India, 25
Study Lead
Ambassador & Advisor

LinkedIn
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Kasha Sequoia Slavner
Canada, 25
WAFF Youth Delegate
& Study Advisor

Website
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Shulin Zhang
China, 27
Study Translator (Chinese)

Interview
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Stella Joseph Bugingo
Tanzania, 35
Study Translator (Kiswahili)

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Ciara Judge
Ireland, 26
WAFF Youth Delegate
& Study Advisor

Website
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Elif Kaya
Turkey, 19
Study Ambassador

LinkedIn
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Issam Eddine Abail
Morocco, 28
Study Translator (French)

LinkedIn
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Harsh Agrawal
India & UK, 20
WAFF Youth Delegate &
Study Translator (Hindi)

LinkedIn
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Laya Pothunuri
India, 22
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Neha Shukla
USA, 19
Study Advisor & WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Umazi Mvurya
Kenya, 29
WAFF Youth Delegate

LinkedIn
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Laura Gomezjurado González
Colombia, 18
Study Advisor

LinkedIn

The WAFF Partner Directory

Research fuels insights. Partnerships amplify them. Together, we take part in a collaborative movement.

WAFF is thankful for an ecosystem of partners who embody intergenerational collaboration and who share our dedication to crafting solutions for our most pressing challenges.

We Are Family Foundation

In addition to the remarkable young people who contributed to the Global Study and our esteemed partners, the We Are Family Foundation Team spearheaded this effort.

We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents, and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world. WAFF was co-founded in 2002 by Nile Rodgers, multi-Grammy Award-winning musician, and Nancy Hunt, and is registered in both the US and the UK.

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Gia Tudoran
Global Study: Creative Content
WAFF: Chief Storyteller

LinkedIn
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Annie Greene
Global Study: Author & Project Lead
WAFF: Director of Programs

LinkedIn
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Jess Teutonico
Global Study: Partnerships
WAFF: Executive Director

LinkedIn
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Madeline Velez
Global Study: Logistics
WAFF: Chief of Staff

LinkedIn
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Ali Caplan
Global Study: Case Studies
WAFF: Community Director

LinkedIn
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Nile Rodgers
Global Study: Chief Ambassador
WAFF: Co-Founder & Chairman

LinkedIn
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Jamie Roach
Global Study: Author & Project Lead
WAFF: Global Program Manager

LinkedIn
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Bastian Sanchez
Global Study: Communications
WAFF: Content & Social Media

LinkedIn
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Jeni Stepanek
Global Study: Contributor
WAFF: Mama Peace

LinkedIn
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Chmba Chilemba
Global Study: Contributor
WAFF: Acting Director, Youth To The Front Fund

LinkedIn
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Nancy Hunt
Global Study: Editor-in-Chief
WAFF: Co-Founder & President

LinkedIn