October 2019

We are pleased to announce that Making Cents International, in a joint venture with Development Professionals, Inc., has been awarded the two-year USAID DCHA/DRG Center’s DRG Assessments Task Order under the Analytical Services IV IDIQ. The purpose of the task order is to provide USAID Missions and Bureaus with analytical services and products to inform the strategic planning, design, and implementation of DRG programs and to ensure that DRG strategies, programs, and activities are based on in-depth, well-informed analyses; valid data; and best practices in the field of democracy, human rights, and governance.

We look forward to serving the DRG Center in this important role!

September 2019

Making Cents International is proud to announce that we have been awarded USAID’s Youth Power 2: Learning and Evaluation (YP2LE) contract! This new award from the E3 Bureau’s Office of Education, with three base years and two one-year options, will build on our success promoting cross-sectoral positive youth development (PYD) through USAID’s YouthPower Learning project since 2015. As the YP2LE implementer, we will support USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance by piecing together a puzzle of global PYD evidence building, stakeholder engagement, knowledge transfer, and application of learning to develop high-quality, impactful, and sustainable youth programs to achieve systems change. We look forward to working on this important project with our YP2LE consortium members Mathematica, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), Global Knowledge Initiative (GKI), NORC at the University of Chicago, FHI 360, Premise Data, The Cloudburst Group, Restless Development, Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO), Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), University of Washington, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Melbourne, Cinecons, and YouthAlive Uganda. Stay tuned for updates on the many exciting activities we have planned for the YouthPower and PYD community!

September 2019

We are honored to announce that Making Cents will receive the Distinguished Partner Award in Global Service from Atlas Corps, Inc. at their Fall Celebration on October 10. This award is given to partners held in high regard for their contributions to Atlas Corps, their commitment to the Atlas Fellows, and their passion for global service.

Making Cents has been an Atlas Corp partner since 2016. Atlas Corp connects young change makers with organizations working in the social sector for 12-18 months. The organizations benefit from having young leaders on their team to provide new perspectives, and the fellows are given insight into how leading organizations implement activities that promote change around the globe. To date, four Atlas Fellows have joined the Making Cents team working on the platform.

August 2019

Our work on the USAID-funded YouthPower Learning project has accelerated this summer as we have conducted a new set of assessments that are meant to bring greater understanding to the needs and aspirations of youth around the world.

Through the YouthPower buy-in mechanism, USAID missions in Armenia, Rwanda, and Somalia commissioned cross-sectoral assessments of youth to better understand young people’s needs and inform future USAID programming. The assessments will be used by the missions to design programs that better motivate youth and knock down existing barriers to full social, economic, and political participation.

July 2019

We are excited to announce that our newest Atlas Corps Fellow, Ikenna Anyadike, joined the team as a part of our YouthPower Learning project. With a specific focus on youth development and education through capacity building, Ikenna currently leads the teen development campaign, Live Out Loud, which is dedicated to cultivating entrepreneurship and social innovation in teenagers in Nigeria. Ikenna is a 2017 fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program powered by the U.S. State Department, and a recipient of the 2012 Commonwealth Youth Program for Africa intervention, Discovering Young Leaders Program. He is also a Google Digital Skills trainer and business partner with Clarity4D, UK. He has two publications to his credit, in addition to a personal development podcast channel. His role on the YouthPower Learning project will be organizing webinars and managing content on our new platform.

June 2019

Dr. Christy Olenik, our Vice President of Technical Services, was recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Her article, Positive Youth Development Programs in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Conceptual Framework and Systematic Review of Efficacy, is based on research that found that sixty percent of the Positive Youth Development (PYD)  programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) “demonstrate positive effects on behaviors.”

PYD has been implemented mainly in high-income countries for almost 30 years. Programs applying the PYD framework bring about youth skill building, enable youth agency, build healthy relationships, and transform systems to prepare youth for successful adulthood. Christy’s research looks at the impact and efficacy of applying this framework to youth programs in the context of LMICs.

Read the article and earn more about PYD.

May 2019

We are excited to share that Making Cents International, in a joint venture with Development Professionals, Inc. has been awarded the five-year USAID/DCHA/DRG Analytical Services IV IDIQ. Under this IDIQ, the Development Professionals, Inc.-Making Cents International (DPI-MCI) consortium, which also includes Tetra Tech/ARD, NORC, FHI 360, GeoPoll, and Sonjara, will provide DCHA/DRG with the experts, resources, and analytical tools to respond to requests for democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) assessments, DRG sub-sectoral, and related assessments or analysis; technical assistance to support DRG strategic planning, program design, and results management; research, special studies, and surveys; training and networking support; and rapid response transitional environment support. We look forward to serving USAID in this important role and to contributing to the Agency’s improved ability to promote resilient, democratic societies, and support U.S foreign policy objectives.

April 2019

We are pleased to announce that Caitlin O’Donnell, our Senior Associate, has been invited to join World Learning’s Transforming Agency, Access, and Power (TAAP) Community of Practice and to serve as a Co-Lead of the TAAP’s Promoting Shared Learning task group. The TAAP Community of Practice is a group of committed practitioners, organizations, and policy-makers coming together to solve problems, share knowledge, cultivate best practices, and innovate to advance social inclusion. It was initiated by World Learning following the launch of the Transforming Agency, Access, and Power (TAAP) Toolkit and Guide for Inclusive Development, which was developed in partnership with IREX in 2018. The TAAP Community of Practice provides social inclusion champions with an informal learning space where they can safely share their challenges, achievements, and questions, while learning from each other’s experiences, benefiting from each other’s expertise and exploring ways to improve their programs. As the Co-Lead of the Promoting Shared Intentional Learning task group, Caitlin leads members in piloting various aspects of the TAAP Toolkit and/or other resources, sharing feedback, and supporting each other with technical advice and guidance. The task group will also develop inter-agency resources to address shared learning needs and external products highlighting findings from pilot testing.

On April 10, Caitlin will represent the TAAP Community of Practice at the World Bank Civil Society Policy Forum Innovation Fair. The interactive TAAP Toolkit will be available for participants to explore on tablets and informational handouts, and research reports will also be shared. Caitlin will facilitate two interactive activities from the Toolkit with attendees and share results in a facilitated discussion at the conclusion of the fair.

February 2019

Making Cents International is excited to announce that Abolaji Omitogun is the newest Atlas Corps Fellow to join our team! During his time with Making Cents, Abolaji will be embedded with our YouthPower Learning team as the YouthLead Fellow and will support the newly launched online platform,, a website to inspire, support, and foster connections among young changemakers around the world.

Abolaji holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and has over five years of experience in enterprise building, startups, and social entrepreneurship. He is the founder of ZMCORPS, a network of young individuals who support community developmental initiatives by engaging recent university graduates posted for national service within the northern state of Zamfara. In his spare time, he is a business development and startup coach and through his mentoring has helped secure over $50,000 in business funding for several startups.

We are excited to have Abolaji join our team and look forward to working with him throughout his fellowship!

January 2019

We are proud to announce that Dr. Christy Olenik, our Vice President of Technical Services, is now a Co-Chair of the Society for International Development – Washington (SID-W) Youth in Development Workgroup! The SID-W Youth in Development Workgroup works on engaging and bettering youth around the world. At Making Cents, Dr. Olenik is responsible for technical leadership, service delivery, business development, and strategy around positive youth development programming. Since 2015, Dr. Olenik has also been serving as Making Cents’ Project Director for the USAID-funded YouthPower: Evidence and Evaluation IDIQ, overseeing and supporting technical work on the YouthPower Learning task order. Learn more about the SID-W Youth in Development workgroup and how you can participate here.

October 2018

The Demand-Driven Training Toolkit, by Making Cents International with support from Rockefeller Foundation, was launched on October 16, 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa. “The toolkit is an important step in facilitating a strong relationship between the education supply and demand sides in South Africa to promote more employment opportunities for youth,” said Dr. Christy Olenik, Vice President, Technical Services, Making Cents International. Developed with input from leading South African and global education and training institutions and private sector companies, the DDT toolkit offers information, tools, and resources to better align workforce development to employer needs and helps education and training institutions become more effective.

Read the full article here (column on far right).

Demand-Driven Training

Demand-driven training toolkit: Making the match for youth and employers

Johannesburg – The Rockefeller Foundation and Making Cents International are pleased to announce the launch of the Demand-Driven Training for Youth Employment Toolkit (DDT) on Friday October 19, 2017, at the Emoyeni Conference Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. A capacity building workshop and reception will feature the toolkit authors and key stakeholders from the government, private sector, and educational institutions. The DDT Toolkit is designed to help workforce training providers and employers address the current global mismatch between youth skills and employer needs.

The current rate of job creation in Africa is insufficient for the needs of the continent’s growing youth population, which is expected to double to 400 million by 2045. Through its Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation has been working to address that gap by working to ensure that the continent’s youth are prepared with the right skills—job-specific technical training and soft skills—for long-term success.

Over the past year, Making Cents International has collaborated with Rockefeller to conduct research and develop resources that will support the successful adoption and scaling of demand-driven training for employment programs. This work contributes to strengthening the capacity of youth education and training providers and institutions in South Africa and globally.

Unlike “demand-aware” or “demand-aligned training”, which offer education and training in theory and skills deemed useful for general employment or sector-specific work, “demand-driven training” prepares young workers for specific occupational roles that employers are looking to fill. The Toolkit will help facilitate:

  • Partnerships between employers and education and training institutions and providers

  • Screening, assessments, and profiling resources to support positive job matching scenarios

  • Soft skills development (e.g. dependability, problem-solving, collaboration, perseverance)

  • Youth mentoring that supports young people’s personal and professional growth

  • Practical and on-the-job training

The DDT Toolkit, developed with input from leading South African and global education and training institutions, private sector companies, offers a practical approach—with accompanying information, tools, and resources—to better align workforce development to employer needs and helps education and training institutions become more effective. The Toolkit will be provided in an easy-to-use format, available free of charge online and as a downloadable, interactive PDF document.

Demand-driven training can play an increasingly significant role in building inclusive local economies and helping to secure livelihoods for disadvantaged youth. When young people are provided with the training and skills employers actually want, communities thrive and youth can fulfill their potential.

Download the full toolkit here.

group of people reading

October 2018

When discussing skills development programs for youth, most people understand the importance of including components that build soft skills like problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. As a result, many youth skills development programs now include soft-skills training. While some of these programs also include a focus on how to deal with conflict as well as activities designed to promote a positive self-concept, it is not clear how many programs take a serious look at building another important set of skills.

In her new blog, Dr. Christy Olenik, Vice President of Technical Services at Making Cents International, writes about the importance of incorporating emotional skills development in youth programming. The blog provides an explanation of what emotional skills are, why they are important, and how we can build these skills in youth. Read the full blog here.

August 2018

Making Cents International is supporting the USAID Mission in Jordan in its efforts to increase capacity of local organizations and contribute to locally owned and locally sustained development results. To that end, Making Cents is providing organizational capacity-building services to two local contractors in order to improve their performance on USAID-funded contracts and prepare them for successfully managing future USAID awards. Under this project, our experts are assessing each contractor’s organizational weaknesses and systems and developing responses and recommendations for ways to remedy the issues identified in the assessment.

July 2018

The SANAD Technical Assistance Facility (SANAD TAF), Making Cents International, and Jordan’s largest microfinance institution, Microfund for Women (MFW), have partnered to create digital economic identities for Syrian refugees that will facilitate their access to credit both in Jordan and beyond. The pilot project is additionally supported by funding from the Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (OeEB), the development bank of Austria.

The pilot program will help Syrian refugees store credit histories, educational certificates, and business information in a blockchain-based digital identity that can be used to gain access to credit or employment. By providing refugees with the means to store and communicate information about their creditworthiness, the SANAD TAF will be advancing its mandate to fuel the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the startup and pre-startup phases into sustainable businesses.

Read the full Press Release here.

Learn more about the project here.

May 2018

The Atlas of Innovation for Economic Stability, produced by FHI 360 with support from Rockefeller Foundation, was launched on May 22. The Atlas features over 60 examples of policy, program, and technology innovations that promote economic stability worldwide, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. It contains an in-depth profile of Making Cents’ current collaboration with BanQu, a technology company that has developed a blockchain-based digital identity solution. Together, we are working to develop digital economic identities for Syrian refugees in Jordan. The digital identities will enable refugees to develop viable livelihoods in their new environment. The initiative is currently being piloted through early 2019 with 1,000 Syrian refugees, and it will be scaled up to additional refugee communities in other countries, if it shows promise. Along with the pilot, Making Cents will evaluate whether the creation of an identity has an impact on refugees’ resilience.

Read the full publication here.