U.S. Embassy in Belize and The Trust for the Americas will train and empower youth with new Innovation Lab

Launch Event

Belmopan - May 26th, 2022. At an on-site event with the public sector, academia, civil society, and youth, the U.S. Embassy in Belize, The Trust for the Americas, The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, and the Department of Youth Services celebrated the official launch of the country's first DIA Innovation Lab for Youth, a collaboration space that will provide access to technology such as computers, camera equipment, 3D printers, and will train young people in digital, business and entrepreneurial skills, to contribute to employability and livelihood opportunities. 

This lab is an initiative designed by The Trust for the Americas, through the Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA) Program, and implemented thanks to the financial support of the U.S. Embassy in Belize. The DIA Lab in Belize is the 3rd  project executed in partnership with the Embassy in the country. It is also the 7th lab to operate in the Americas after successful implementations in Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic.  

In attendance at the launch were: Program Director for Behavior Modification and Conflict Management Services at Belize’s Department of Youth Services William Dawson; U.S. Embassy Political Officer Sydney Skov; Head of the UWI Open Campus in Belize Dr. Sharmayne Saunders; IDB Country Representative for Belize Ramiro López Ghio; Director of Beltraide Dr. Leroy Almendarez; Financial Officer at the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone Sergio López; President of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry Marcello Blake;  Director of Board at the National Institute of Culture and History Carlo Habet; Country Director of RET Cherese Ferguson; The Trust for the Americas Senior Manager for DIA Rodrigo Iriani; and The Trust for the Americas Project Coordinator for DIA Belize Audrey Robin. The Trust for the Americas CEO Linda Eddleman joined virtually. 

William Dawson, Program Director for Behavior Modification and Conflict Management Services  - Belize’s Department of Youth Services, stated: “multi-stakeholder collaboration is what’s necessary to build a support system for all of Belize. Besides training and teaching youth skills, these types of opportunities build the capacities of our youth. The DIA Lab Belize also provides the platform for their social development in our constantly growing society. We must protect our youth, but it’s also equally important to include it in development actions for the country, regardless of financial status, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.” 

The DIA Lab Belize promotes innovation and entrepreneurship and seeks to create an agents-of-change network amongst youth, academia, civil society actors, and local governments, aiming to generate livelihood opportunities in vulnerable communities, and further progressive governance in the country. 

Alongside the local partner, UWI Open Campus, the DIA Lab Belize will seek to achieve in its first year:  

  • Train and empower over 300 Belizeans with digital and entrepreneurship skills throughout the country of Belize.   

  • Offer over 14 training courses to complete a 40-hour program.  

  • Celebrate 2 competitions (Pitch Tank and Hackathon) to grant seed funding and boost the best innovative ideas and entrepreneurship projects developed by the participating youth. 

Dr. Sharmayne Saunders, Head  - UWI Open Campus in Belize, said: “As lead implementing partner, we have key responsibilities such as recruitment and retention of students, raising awareness, course development and delivery, and everything in between to ensure success for this project. With a special focus on gender, at-risk-youth and urban/rural population, the DIA Lab furthers UWI Open Campus’ mission of advancing learning, knowledge, and innovation for the positive transformation of the Caribbean.” 

“Innovation is the cornerstone of economic development,” underscored Ms. Sydney Skov, Political Office. - U.S. Embassy. “Investments that offer mentorship and create employment opportunities for Belizean youth lay important groundwork for empowering the next generation of leaders and for creating sustainable communities. This, in turn, feeds vibrant and stable democratic processes. The United States is a committed partner in helping to foster inclusive democracy.” 

Since 2018, The Trust for the Americas and the U.S. Embassy in Belize have positively impacted the lives of 341 people from different sectors of society, strengthening public capacities and citizen participation, and promoting the use of information and technology in addressing problems in vulnerable communities. 

If you are interested in participating in the DIA Lab Belize training programs and/or having access to the lab's facilities, resources, and activities such as workshops, seminars, and events, please visit the following link: http://bit.ly/dialabregister 

For updates about the DIA Lab Belize, you check its @DIALabBelize 



About The  Trust for the Americas:  

The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our initiatives, implemented through local partner organizations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities as well as to foster innovation in vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance. The Trust has offices in Washington, D.C., Colombia, and Canada.  

More information: www.trustfortheamericas.org   

Facebook: The Trust for the Americas  Twitter:   @Trust4Americas  


About Democratizing Innovation in the Americas (DIA):  

DIA is a regional initiative launched to foster innovation and empower new generations through access to technology training, specialized curricula, collaboration spaces, mentorship, and financial resources for social and economic ventures.  

More information: https://www.thetrustfortheamericas.org/programs/dia 


About UWI Open Campus Belize: 

UWI Open Campus Belize is responsible for all of the Open Campus’s activities in Belize, including public service, outreach activities, research, and continuing education programming. They offer globally-accredited degrees and courses taught by the region’s finest academics in world-class facilities. 

More information: https://www.open.uwi.edu 

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