A three-year IDRC grant supports Glasswing International’s work. The research aims to identify key urban challenges that can be addressed through youth-led social enterprises in San Salvador, El Salvador and San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Using incubation and partnership models, the organization seeks to provide urban youth with economic opportunities and reinforce a positive role for them as agents of transformation in cities where gang violence is prevalent.
“The problem that youth face in Latin America is a combination of chronic and acute exposure to violence and trauma, which is compounded by a lack of role models and social networks and social support systems that kids really need to thrive,” says Celina de Sola, co-founder of Glasswing International, in a Skoll Foundation video.
Glasswing International’s approach is grounded in the understanding that community, human connection, and social cohesion are essential to keeping youth safe and countering cycles of gang-related, family, gender-based, and community violence.
The organization recognizes the value of research in shaping its activities. Speaking in September in the Skoll Salon Webinar Series, de Sola said, “We want to make sure that what we’re doing is actually having the impact we want. We want to make sure we’re responding to the priorities of young people. That commitment to learning goes back to who we’re most accountable to and that’s the kids we work with and the families we work with.”
De Sola credits this emphasis on youth-centered, community-based, and evidence-driven solutions for their ability to respond and adapt to the new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a survey in the early stages of the pandemic, the organization was able to identify how the children and youth it supports were experiencing the crisis and reacting emotionally. The knowledge shaped its response using virtual platforms and reinforced the need to promote wellbeing and mental health in creative ways — now remotely.
Glasswing International is also part of a consortium that is identifying and addressing the needs of migrants returning to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador because of COVID-19. Led by the Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales in Guatemala, this IDRC-supported research aims to diagnose the labour reintegration and security needs of returnees, women and youth in particular, to propose effective responses from communities, civil society organizations, and governments.