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Migration and Home Affairs

The Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN)

United Kingdom
Target Audience
Youth/pupils/studentsLocal community organisations/NGOsAuthorities
key themes association
TrainingVulnerable youth and youth engagement in P/CVE
Peer Reviewed practice


Institute for Strategic Dialogue

A global counter-extremism organisation dedicated to powering new generations against hate and extremism. For 10 years, the ISD has responded to the rising challenge of extremist movements and the ideologies that underpin them, delivering cutting-edge programmes built upon world-leading expertise in communications and technology, grassroots networks, knowledge and research, and policy advice.

Type of Organisation: Other

Project description

The Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) empowers young people to engage meaningfully in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) and elevates their voices as credible messengers and decision-makers who can influence related policy at local, national and international levels.

Through targeted workshops, YouthCAN engages directly with young grassroots activists to bring them the knowledge, skills and resources they need, while the global network connects activists from all corners of the globe and all walks of life to stand united against hate and extremism.

Main approach

Training: YouthCAN empowers youth activists through training to increase their knowledge of P/CVE while building the tangible skillsets needed to support their activism. YouthCAN’s Youth Innovation Labs utilise a unique capacity-building model that centres on a learning-by-doing approach. The process goes beyond traditional hierarchical learning to allow participants to apply learnings to their own context and produce tangible outputs that benefit their community.

Target audiences

Young activists: young people aged between 18 and 29 who are working to challenge hate and extremism in their community. YouthCAN brings them the resources, opportunities, training and support they need to achieve the greatest impact.

Vulnerable or at-risk youth: young people who are vulnerable to extremist ideologies through peer messaging. YouthCAN engages with this group by empowering young people to act as credible messengers and creating opportunities for them to engage their immediate communities.

Policymakers: YouthCAN encourages policymakers to engage meaningfully with young people in P/CVE, especially when developing policies that affect youth. The programme also generates research to help guide policymakers and civil society organisations (CSOs) engage more effectively with youth.


YouthCAN has helped young activists create and deliver 40 targeted counterspeech campaigns and community initiatives, with an additional 12 campaigns in development that are due to launch in early 2019.

YouthCAN has conducted research on the needs of youth activists and the barriers they face. The first such report, published in June 2016, presented youth feedback on the UN Plan of Action (PoA) and Resolution 2250 which offered guidance for engagement with youth in P/CVE. The report is available on the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) website.

A second report, to be released in March 2019, covers a large number of youth perspectives globally, in order to better understand the needs of young activists and the challenges they face. This will help policymakers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) deliver programmes that can better support youth in P/CVE.

Contact details


PO Box 7814

Contact person: Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Telephone: (+44) 207 493 9333
Email | Website

Read the full practice

The Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN)
(168.09 KB - PDF)