RUKA! Youth Leadership Conference combines design thinking, open-space methodology and rights-based approach by creating the infrastructure to cultivate and support young change-makers from under-served (non-formal) areas in their journey to tackle the toughest challenges in their personal lives and communities.

RUKA! channels these efforts by facilitating knowledge-sharing through Open Space conference model and catalyzing youth innovation for social entrepreneurship and sustainable development by providing access to mentors and capital they need to start their venture.

RUKA! is organized by PaaMoja Initiative: a community-based non-profit organization that empowers individuals from the Mathare Valley, the second largest slum in Kenya. Around 500,000 inhabitants cram into tiny shacks in Mathare, a hilly area that is less than one square mile. PaaMoja equips Mathare’s residents with life skills, resources, and most importantly, the opportunity to design and execute programs to give back to their community.

They believe that every individual can be a leader, and that in the process of becoming a leader, one must follow and learn – hence our mantra – Follow. Learn. Lead. RUKA! Is Supported by The JUMP! Foundation and Business for Better Society, the JUMP! Foundation is an experiential education provider that was established in 2006 in response to what its founding members saw as a need in youth education for programs that address issues of leadership and global citizenship. In an increasingly “flatter” and more globalized world, the founders believed it was important to create a platform to facilitate awareness among youth not only of their own communities, but also awareness of the different communities around the world while Business for Better Society (BBS) is a non-profit foundation that connects socially conscious businesses with projects that have sustainable impact.

The RUKA! Youth Leadership Conference curriculum is designed to assist the local underserved youth and communities in better understanding and developing their change maker skills in 3 core areas of leadership development: Personal leadership - encompassing a leader in learning more about his or her self and developing life skills that strengthen self-image Organizational leadership - engaging individuals in practicing skills for decision-making Community leadership - focusing on individuals organizing to create community change Capsule: Discover yourself and your community, Imagine possible solutions, Achieve positive change and impact.

The goal of the RUKA! Youth Leadership Conference is to provide a space for marginalized youth to explore challenges and unlock solutions that can lead to personal and community action. Students consider how curiosity, motivation, success, and teamwork, factor into inspiration and act as bridges towards action.   Youths leave the program with an awareness of how these ideas contribute to their self- image and how to put their inspiration into action in both their personal lives and within a community.

RUKA! Facilitators and Mentors will engage with participants both prior to and following the RUKA!Youth Leadership Conference. Before the conference, RUKA will provide training on facilitation and workshops for youth participants as a preparation for the conference.

Youths will also be asked to complete a pre-program survey, which evaluates the ways in which they, as individuals, can best contribute to making positive change in the world.

Following the program, students will be asked to complete a survey evaluating the program, and RUKA will continue to engage with participants by supporting implementation of their Community Impact Projects and sharing inspiring resources and future opportunities with JUMP through partner organizations.