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YearBeyond Volunteer working with two young students at a desk, revising work.

YearBeyond: Providing Meaningful Work Experience and a Path Forward

YearBeyond is a youth service program that provides young people with important work experience and connections to employment or further study opportunities, all while encouraging a culture of active citizenship and service for youth in South Africa.

New skills and support help youth get ready for the next step

In an effort to create a South African economy where everyone can participate, YearBeyond (YeBo) uses voluntary service work as a springboard to help its participants achieve their dreams of working, earning, and thriving.

YeBo program participants — proudly called ‘YeBoneers’ — work in a range of roles supporting a variety of sectors, earning a stipend as they develop both professional and personal skills. Education was the program’s first and is currently its largest workstream, after launching in 2015 with a teacher-assistant and after-school literacy and numeracy programs for grade three and four learners attending low- and no-fee primary schools across the Western Cape. Other workstreams now include programs supporting libraries and museums and organizations that address well-being.

While on the program youth are provided with personal and professional development to build their professionalism, emotional intelligence, and agency.

During the 10-month program, YeBoneers each have a mentor who supports them in implementing what they have learned in their training blocks, provides encouragement through challenges, and shares feedback on their progress. YeBo also provides broader support with study and career options, work fairs, and CV writing.

The majority of YeBoneers go on to enter the workforce, enroll in further schooling, or both. On average, those who become employed do so within three months of completing the program. To help with the transition from volunteer to employee, YeBo has built strong relationships with a network of partners, employers, and educators providing YeBoneers with a network of contacts and opportunities to draw from as a new chapter of growth begins.

I can say I’m ready for my next opportunity. I have learnt so much this year and I exit with a bag full of tools to tackle the outside world.

Sinovuyo Xhashimba, 2022 YeBoneer

More participants, programs, and success on the horizon

YeBo has helped hundreds of young people make progress for themselves and their communities. The program supported an initial cohort of 200 YeBoneers in 2019, growing to 1,000 participants in 2021 and over 3,000 participants in 2022.

The organization targeted to unlock the potential of 4,000 YeBoneers in 2023 and is targeting 4,500 in 2024. YeBo plans to add more programs in more communities and expand the network of partners while maintaining high-quality content creation, training, and support.

Foundation Project Lead