Eurasia Foundation is delighted to recognize the Central Asia Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA)'s first graduating class. 

CAYLA unites young leaders from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan determined to drive positive, lasting change in their communities. The online academy provides youth advocates and activists between the ages of 18 and 30 mentorship, training, and small grants to develop and realize social impact projects locally.  

In Spring 2020, CAYLA recruited its inaugural 163-person cohort from a highly competitive pool of over 1,100 applications. The program launched in June with a three-day regional conference, the largest scale USAID-funded event of its kind to be held in Central Asia digitally. Participants met with civil society experts from across the region to learn about successful social initiatives in ecology, human rights, gender equality, volunteerism, and beyond.   

Over the course of the next five months, CAYLA participants completed a rigorous interactive e-learning series in social entrepreneurship, creative and critical thinking, project development and management, emotional intelligence, and public speaking. Courses were led by some of Central Asia’s top civil society experts, who also offered individual assistance to participants as they began to formulate their own projects.  

Participants also joined a variety of guest lectures and networking events with local activists, established civil society organizations, and government officials to learn more about effective community initiatives.  

Upon graduation, participants each received a certificate of completion. But for many of these remarkable young leaders, this is just the beginning. Since graduating, most alumni have opted to continue studying with CAYLA through elective courses in strategic decision-making, project monitoring and evaluation, and effective communication. Several graduates have also received competitive grants to kickstart civic projects in their communities.   

“We are extremely proud of our CAYLA graduates,” says EF President Lisa Coll. “Youth are our present and our future and must be given opportunities to meaningfully engage with their communities, their governments, and each other. CAYLA is opening doors for the next generation of changemakers in Central Asia. We can’t wait to see what they do next.” 

CAYLA is supported by the Civil Society Support Program (CSSP) in Central Asia, a five-year initiative implemented by Eurasia Foundation and funded by USAID. CSSP in Central Asia is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant and responsive civil society sector and to building a new generation of forward-thinking civic leaders throughout the region. For the latest news, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.