The project builds on work over the last decade by YES (Youth Education and Sports) with Africa, a multiethnic, coeducational, sports and leadership development program administered in conjunction with partner organizations in Africa by the Division of Special Programs & Projects and the Department of Africana Studies at UMass Boston.
YES with Africa is currently based in the West African countries of Senegal and Benin and has strong ties with Niger. The program gathers neighborhood groups of young people together for morning classes in self-empowering subjects like computer use, personal finance, personal health, and cultural heritage, and follows, as a reward and as an important tool of youth development in its own right, with afternoon clinics in soccer, basketball and other sports. YES has already served over 1,500 African boys and girls.
The program enjoys broad support from governmental and private groups in Africa and has the enthusiastic endorsement of the administration and faculty at UMass Boston. In 2008 the University of Massachusetts Boston received a grant from the U.S. Department of State to support a two-year coaches' exchange program based in Senegal.
For this program, a contingent of six Senegalese visited UMass Boston in Winter 2009, and five UMass Boston representatives traveled to Senegal in Summer 2009. Follow-up will continue in the months ahead in preparation for a second final UMass Boston visit to Senegal in Summer 2010.