About Youth Innovation Centers

YOUTH INNOVATION CENTRES (YICs) are key resources for the youth. In many countries in the world, YICs provide a free information service to young people and those who work with them.

In Jamaica the concept of the YIC has been developed as a direct policy of government over several years and has resulted in the establishment and operation of YICs under a special Youth Empowerment and Participation Programme, dubbed, “Operation Phoenix”, approved by Cabinet in 2002. This Programme is under the directorship of the National Centre for Youth Development and is given budgetary support.

The policy objective, in the main, is to empower youth through the dissemination of information, the provision of other services and outreach activities at central and easily accessible locations islandwide. However, after taking into consideration the many areas across the island which would be under-served, the policy has been expanded to include locations in remote areas and other areas which have not yet been targeted by the NCYD. The description that is given to the YICs which would fall in this category is: “Satellite YICs”. In this concept, there is a merging of ideas from the Community Access Point (CAP) Project and the present YIC operations.

Thirty-one (31) Youth Empowerment Officers (YEOs) have been appointed, trained and assigned to each parish to implement the activities under Operation Phoenix. They are responsible for operations at the YICs, where they have already been established. Those YEOs who are not assigned to a YIC have been utilizing office space provided by other departments of government. They are the on-the-ground team, working in their “Development Areas”. They interact with Youth Clubs, community groups, Agencies and NGOs.

The vision is that the YICs should be the first point of contact for a young person seeking information on any subject of interest or concern. The setting should be in a specifically designed premises and the atmosphere should be friendly, warm and informal.

YIC User Statistics for established YICs in Portmore, St. Mary, Kingston and Portland are encouraging. The Impact Assessment Study commissioned by the NCYD/UNICEF, in their partnership in 2004, supports the view that the YIC policy initiative was a step in the right direction for youth and more specifically for the targeted 17-24 cohort.


In August 2004, the National Centre for Youth Development and UNICEF conducted an Impact Assessment of the Youth Information Centres in Portmore and St. Mary. Some of the results are as follows;

  • 80% of persons interviewed indicated that overall the YIC has had a great impact on their life.
  • 93% stated that they were satisfied with the services received
  • 77% indicated that the information received has improved their knowledge of Youth issues
  • 97% agreed that the Staff treated them with dignity and respect
  • 80% noticed that since going to the YIC their quality of work has improved.
  • 92% of users interviewed indicated that they received non-judgmental services from the YIC staff.

The UNICEF/GOJ 30-month Project Proposal, which was approved by UNICEF under its Country Programme for disbursement of $19,952.800 for the period, July 2007 to December, 2009, and the endorsement and support of other international donor agencies such as IADB and countries like Korea, for example, speak to the sustainability of this Programme of Youth Empowerment and Participation.

The first-phase development of YICs islandwide requires that there is one YIC in each parish, except in the parishes of Kingston & St. Andrew and St. Catherine where each would have two YICs. This phase has been accelerated. A listing of YICs and the status of their establishment and operations is presented in this document.

In selecting locations for set-up and operations, the NCYD/Operation Phoenix, in this phase of YIC establishment, in their Site Selection Criteria, have been focusing, on the acquisition and use of under-utilised space in government/Parish Council buildings; on government or Parish Council owned lands; on properties leased to or held in Trust by entities under formal Agreements with the National Land Agency. The locations during this phase should be, ideally, in parish capitals, Development Areas, and in urban centres or in close proximity to urban centres. Where the use of available space may require partnerships, there can be Memorandums of Understanding with NGOs or CBOs, or other legitimate private organizations.

The prototype design of a YIC highlights the main features and layout of a typical YIC and will always be used as a guide for a YIC which is to be fully constructed. The amount of space which is available, along with other considerations at the time is likely to result in each YIC design being relatively site-specific. Under any Grant-funding or lending arrangement with the GOJ, special attention will be paid to any conditions relating to the acquisition of property, lease, sub-lease or rental imposed by the Governments under the Grant Agreement and accepted by the GOJ.

The YEOs and other NCYD Officers are available to help find or interpret information required. These staff will also refer young people to the relevant voluntary or statutory agencies, NGOs, technical or professional individual when further information or specialist help is required.

Y.I.C. Services

If young people want to:

  • Get information about opportunities which are available for them
  • Browse the Internet
  • Become more involved in youth work
  • Have someone to talk to
  • Attend empowerment sessions, workshops
  • Build self-esteem and confidence
  • Get information of interest and concern
  • Get information and brochures on HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Participate in cultural activities
  • Prepare a Resume/CV
  • Do a job search
  • Get assistance in typing an application or other letters
  • Get a photocopy done
  • Use the fax machine
  • Know what’s happening with the National Youth Service
  • Find out about the National Youth Policy
  • Share a special skill or talent with others
  • Use the resource centre/reading area
  • Read and obtain brochures, magazines, books
  • Study in a quiet and resourceful place
  • Get help with the homework
  • Meet peers and find friends
  • Find a Youth Club, a Pastor, a Mentor
  • Play outdoor/indoor games
  • Learn more about using the computer
  • Watch TV/DVD
  • Find someone to confide in
  • Get referrals for professional help and counselling

The YOUTH INFORMATION CENTRE is a good place to start!