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STYL (Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia)

The Transformation Program (TP) is a youth empowerment initiative that combines cognitive behavioral therapy and life-skills training program. The TP aims to bolster youth’s cognitive and social skills, raise their aspirations, and equip them to reach their goals. Therapy combined with cash transfers/income generation activities have been shown to be associated with a reduction in violence, criminality and antisocial behavior. The curriculum includes modules on anger management, impulse control, future orientation and planning skills, and self-esteem, among others.

STYL Goal

The program’s primary goal is to contribute to transforming the lives of youth into productive members of society and reduce extreme poverty and crime in the Liberian community.

Objectives

The objective of the program is to reduce youth risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol use and abuse, violent and non-violent crime and establish stable social and economic relationship with the community through group counseling, rooted in the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy, strength base perspective and unconditional cash transfer/income generating activity.

Interventions

  • Group session through Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Strength Base Perspective - The transformation program is a behavior change intervention using CBT with a focus on strength based perspective. The model will be used for youth age 15-35. This approach aims to bolster youth’s cognitive and social skills necessary for entrepreneurial self-help, raise youth’s aspirations, and equip youth to reach their goals. The curriculum includes modules on anger management, impulse control, and future orientation, planning skills, confidence, leadership, critical thinking and self-esteem. This group education will engage 180 youth in 3 cycles in a year. It will conduct 3 sessions of 20 participants (60 total) per cycle, 3 days a week and 4 hours a day (24 days of 4 hours sessions) over a period of 8 weeks. We will expect 80% of the youth to participate in the therapy fully with at least 18 days of regular attendance.

  • Cash Transfer/Income Generation Activity - The cash transfer will occur roughly one week after the completion of each of the cycle in the behavior change therapy, and all 180 participants are eligible. It is purposefully done after the behavior change intervention, because it is both a treatment in itself and also a measurement tool to test whether spending decision is affected by the therapy. The cash transfer will consist of a single lump-sum payment. In particular, those who will be selected to receive the grant (see randomization procedure below) on a given day will first be taken to a separate private location. Once everyone is assembled, we will give them 30 minutes of information about how to keep the money safe (e.g. deposit it with a bank) and example of what they could use it for (starting a small business) or using it for transportation to learn a trade. We will emphasize to subject that the grant is unconditional in term of how they would spend it. Given potential safety concern for both subjects and staff, the cash will not be held on site. Instead, the cash will be in a bank and grant participants will be call forward one at a time, given a check, and transported to the bank to withdraw their cash. Anyone who is assigned to the cash treatment but is not present on the day of disbursement is still eligible for the grant. We will attempt to locate them for up to 3 weeks afterward. We will expect 70% of the youth to receive cash transfer in general.

 


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