The Youth Clubs that are Getting Girls Back to School

By: Emma Beck, Associate Communications Manager, PSI

At 13, Emma ran out of money to pay for school.

Emma closes her eyes, a smile transforming her youthful features. “I dream of becoming a nurse,” she says. The 18-year-old sits as she digs her dusty blue shoes into the burnt orange sand below, settling into the courtyard where a Chigona Youth Club meeting was about to commence.

Emma walks a kilometer by foot to attend Youth Club meetings twice weekly. It’s worth every step, Emma says. After all, it was the maize her Youth Club grew and sold that paid off the loan they secured to send Emma back to school.

On Sundays, Emma, alongside her 56 peers, engages in incoming generating activities. Some days they tend to the crops they grow; other days they package honey or farm fish or plant trees. Members work alongside PSI to get the commodities to market. The funds raised support members’ immediate needs.

On Wednesdays, Youth Club listens to the latest episode of Youth Alert, a PSI-brain child and youth-led national radio program for Malawian adolescents. From love to health, the branded magazine-style radio program elevates young people’s narratives as an entry point to disseminate verified SRH information. Youth Alert! taught Emma what she can do to keep herself in school by planning for when she wants to have a child, by protecting herself from STIs and by understanding where she can access contraception, if she needs.

Across 14 of Malawi’s poorest and hardest to reach communities, girls like Emma envision futures filled with opportunity. Yet in a district where one in five girls will drop out of school, a vicious cycle of limited means to pay for steep exam fees, coupled with the nation’s high rate of teen pregnancies, pose barriers for young people like Emma to complete their education.

Community by community, Youth Clubs are changing that narrative with funding from the German Government through KfW Development Bank and USAID.

The PSI/Malawi-implemented Project N’zatonse works with and for young people aged 10-24 to deliver combined health, income generation and social development activities to more than 15 thousand of Malawi’s most vulnerable youth per month. The project’s Youth Clubs distribute more than 1 million condoms to young people per year.

“Honey for sale,” Emma motions her friends over to a table in the club’s central courtyard. Emma leans forward, adjusting the four jars of homemade honey lined in a row. A scribbled sign reading ‘K2,000 per bottle’ wraps around the glass’ edges.

“Youth Club has made me feel independent,” Emma’s cheeks curve, her lips separating to reveal a gleaming smile. “That makes me feel powerful.”

Emma alongside her peers at Project N’zatonse’s Youth Club, an initiative powered by PSI and funded bythe German Government through KfW Development Bank and USAID. / Photo credit: Emma Beck

Sign up to
Receive Updates

Donate to
Support Our Work



The Future of Work

With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.


Meaningful Youth Engagement

PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.


Zero Tolerance for Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking

PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.



Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.


Environmental Sustainability

The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.


Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.


Zero Tolerance for Discrimination and Harassment

PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.

PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.


Diversity and Inclusion

PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.


Gender Equality

PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.


01 #PeoplePowered

02 Breaking Taboos

03 Moving Care Closer to Consumers

04 Innovating on Investments

Let's Talk About Sex