Sprout e-course – idea growth

A program of TakingITGlobal


In 1996, a young man participated in a small discussion and networking session of international NGOs at the United Nations Secretariat in New York City, USA. He was inspired to meet a room of people whose lives were dedicated to global problem solving. At the same time, however, he was shocked to learn that few young people were involved. After reading the UN Charter, observing its call for the participation of young people, he set out to create a United Nations Youth Assembly. After three years of consultation with UN bureaucrats, international organizations, and youth from all over the world, he concluded that the UN could not create a youth assembly without demand and representation.

Young people around the world were getting involved but needed to be better organized. In July 1999, the "United Youth Conference" convened 20 young people from 12 different countries. Together they founded the Global Youth Action Network to create a clearinghouse for today's youth movements, encourage collaboration and help maximize the collective impact of youth activism around the world. GYAN hired 3 full-time staff and set up its global headquarters in January of 2000, becoming the only international youth organization with an office near the UN Secretariat in New York City, USA.

By 2003, GYAN had began to open regional offices and establish regional teams on all continents. In 2004, GYAN became a fully independent 501(c)3 corporation, and was granted affiliate status with the United Nations Department of Public Information. A process of restructuring its membership began in 2005, when GYAN was also granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC).

GYAN merged its online community and databases with TakingITGlobal.org in 2001, which has become the most active site on the Internet for young social leaders. Today, TakingITGlobal contains the most comprehensive database of youth organizations, events and much more, with over 200,000 members in 200+ countries and territories.

GYAN is one of the largest networks of youth organizations ever created. GYAN acts as an incubator of global partnerships and a global information provider. The Network is known for its role in increasing youth participation within the United Nations System.

Around the World

GYAN-Ghana is led by a group of young staff members based at its head office in Accra, its regional offices in Ashanti Region, and Northern Region, and a focal coordinating team in the 10 regions of Ghana. The GYAN Ghana staff in the head office focus on facilitating collaboration, project and program management, community engagement, outreach, development and administration. GYAN continues to expand as a collaborative network.


Some of GYAN's notable achievements include the following:

  • Supporting Youth Participation
    • Helped set a record level of official Youth Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly in 2000 and continue to provide ongoing support that strengthens youth participation within the UN System.
    • Established Youth Advisory Councils for UN agencies, governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies, media programs and more. Recent ones include Youth Advisory Councils for the United Nations Population Fund, the Committee of NGOs in Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC and the League of Arab States.
    • Worked to ensure greater positive youth representation in the media, highlighting positive contributions, and supported positive programming aimed towards youth. Notable production partnerships include global Chat the Planet TV series and the YVote04 3-part interactive special (USA).
    • Secured the higest level of recognition at the United Nations, Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), allowing GYAN and its member organizations to have their voices heard in the processes affecting issues relating to young people.

  • Building Collaboration
    • GYAN recognizes key needs and opportunities across youth movements and builds coalitions to address them, such as with the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), the NGO Committee on Youth at the United Nations, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Youth & the MDGs, the Youth Movement for Democracy, and others.
    • In partnership with TakingITGlobal created the most comprehensive shared resource database for youth on the web, with tools for sharing information, resources, and much more.

  • Recognizing & Supporting Positive Youth Action
    • Helped to launch and coordinate Global Youth Service Day with Youth Service America, which became the largest celebration of young volunteers, and has mobilized millions since 2000.
    • Distributed more than $35,000 USD to youth-initiated projects that have improved communities, through the Global Youth Action Awards program.
    • Worked with foundations and partner agencies to distribute more than $500,000 in program support to youth organizations creating measurable solutions on the ground.
    • Helped to feature youth leaders in over 2 dozen major media outlets across the world, in a variety of publications, and provided guides and toolkits to enabled more informed and effective civic engagement.
    • Implemented strategies to engage youth in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), including: working with the United Nations Millennium Campaign and TakingITGlobal to develop an MDG Youth Campaign Kit, Action Guide and MDG Youth Portal; also acting as secretariat for the Ad-Hoc Expert Working Group on Youth and the MDGs, who produced the Youth & MDGs Report: Challenges & Opportunities for Action, with over 50,000 copies distributed and used for Quick Wins, Policy Recommendations, Research and Case Studies.

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