Youth Development Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

Youth Development & Community Service Promoters work with at-risk youth between ages 10-25 and their communities to implement positive youth development and community programs. Projects include vocational training, life-skills development, leadership activities self-esteem, substance abuse prevention, service learning, income generation, HIV/AIDS awareness, community organizing, organizational development, and stay-in-school programs.

These tasks will be developed within the four goals of PC/Ecuador's Youth and Families Development (Y&F) Program:

1. Asset-Based Development with Youth: Under this goal you will work to develop and improve leadership abilities of young people so they can address their personal needs and the needs of their communities. Objectives for this goal involve training youth in life skills, such as self-esteem, goal-setting and values, decision making, communication, leadership, alcohol and substance abuse prevention, and sexual education and HIV/AIDS prevention. Volunteers and their organizations also work with youth in sports, recreation and physical activity as an alternative outlet where youth can exercise positive behaviors.

2. Building Skills for the World of Work of Youth: Under this goal you will work to increase young people’s capacity to better prepare them for the world of work. Objectives for this goal involve training youth in employability skills, financial literacy, and vocational skills. Volunteers and their organizations also work with youth in after school tutoring programs and literacy programs that help youth to improve reading and comprehension skills.

3. Engaging Youth as Active Citizens: Under this goal you will work to increase capacity of youth, service providers, community individuals, associations, and institutions to address the needs of the youth and families in their communities, and engage youth as leaders and participants in community activities. Objectives for this goal include Training of Trainers (agency staff, community members, teachers, youth leaders, social workers, etc.) on using positive youth development approaches, leadership, facilitation skills, volunteerism, service-learning, advocacy, community assessment, and project design and management. Volunteers also work with counterparts to improve their organizational capabilities, helping them to initiate and organize community development activities.

4. Building Community Support for Youth Development: Under this goal you will work to develop and increase parent and community member support for positive youth development activities, practices, and approaches. Objectives for this goal involve training families and community members on parenting skills, community engagement, and positive youth development.

One of the exciting parts of your professional work is to participate in the Peace Corps monitoring, reporting, and evaluation (MRE) process. All Volunteers receive training on the PC MRE system, and every four months Volunteers submit individual work reports to their program managers, who are responsible for summarizing and analyzing this data and using it to monitor progress toward the program’s goals and objectives. The MRE system helps Peace Corps report on its accomplishments and fine tune programming. The opportunity to learn and practice professional monitoring and evaluation skills are among the many valued benefits of Peace Corps service.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working with Youth in Development and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

The most important element of being a successful youth and families volunteer is an open, positive, and respectful attitude, along with a willingness to learn and adapt.

Ecuador strongly prefers applicants who have experience volunteering or working with at-risk youth and their parents and promoting life skills, vocational skills, substance abuse prevention, youth leadership and development, literacy, parenting skills, HIV/AIDS prevention and sex education, small business development, and financial literacy using non-formal and experiential education methodologies.

Additional desired skills include facilitation, organizational, assessment, and leadership skills.

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position.
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Volunteers work in the Spanish Language. Trainees must demonstrate intermediate level written and oral proficiency after 10 weeks of language training.

Living Conditions

After Volunteers swear in, they are all required to live with Ecuadorian families in their community for at least the first six months of their service in Ecuador. (This is in addition to the 10 weeks spent living with a family during training). Living with a family is the norm in Ecuador, even for adult professionals, until they are married and have a family of their own. Living with a family will increase a volunteer’s safety, credibility, community integration and acceptance.

After being cleared for Peace Corps/Ecuador you can serve anywhere in the country. Volunteer assignments are community- and institution-based, meaning that we will assign you based on your skills and the community needs. In the Y&F program, Volunteers are assigned to sites throughout the country in a wide variety of geographical and climatic settings. You may be assigned to a community in the Andean highlands or the coastal lowlands. Most communities are in marginal urban neighborhoods, meaning poor and somewhat rural neighborhoods on the outskirts of a larger metropolitan area, and some in smaller communities. There’s also the possibility of being assigned to a rural community.

Volunteers working in restricted areas in the bigger cities do not live in the community that they work, but commute to and from their work each day. These Volunteers may feel challenged by not having a strong "sense of community", but most Volunteers report that they enjoy the sense of independence that comes from living in a larger city and not being in the "fish bowl" as they might be living in a smaller community. Each job location will have its pros and cons. It's up to each Peace Corps Volunteer to adapt into that reality and make it a positive experience.

Volunteers working with at-risk children and youth as well as marginalized urban populations have faced struggles in the past as they can find themselves in very challenging and emotional environments.

While Ecuador is generally tolerant, and the PC/Ecuador office is an open, non-judgmental place for all Volunteers, values and mores concerning diversity (race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity) may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach diversity issues in their communities and host countries.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their country of service may find they experience curiosity or unwanted attention from host country nationals. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers have been able to turn these encounters into learning experiences, share American values, and deepen local community members’ understanding of Americans.

Peace Corps/Ecuador has support groups in place for diverse volunteers and seeks to support the rich diversity of volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ecuador: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Ecuador welcomes cross-sector couples to apply. Therefore, your partner can apply and must qualify for:

Health and Wellness Promoter and one for the Youth Development & Community Service Promoter.
You and your partner should have relevant experience in the chosen sectors to be considered.

Generally speaking, Volunteer couples should expect living conditions to be the same for them as for single Volunteers. Every effort will be made so that couples can live together with a single host family during Pre-Service Training, but there is always a small chance that they may have to live apart during Pre-Service Training due to space or other limitations.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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