Meet the CEO of Girlguiding funder Youth United

We chatted to Youth United Foundation CEO Lindsay Levkoff Lynn about her passion for Youth United and reaching more young people

Girlguiding Blogger
12 Jan 2016

We're opening Girlguiding units in places we've never been before

It's largely thanks to the support of the Youth United Foundation. So we met their CEO Lindsay Levkoff Lynn to find out more.

We're really excited by everything Girlguiding and Youth United are doing together, and grateful for your support. So tell us, what is the Youth United Foundation?

Youth United was originally set up in 2009 as a Network for the CEOs of the uniformed youth organisations. Then in 2012, the Youth United Foundation was formed to provide funding and lead on collaborative projects between these organisations.

Through funding and support, we help them expand and establish themselves in communities they haven't worked in before. We want to be in a situation where every young person in the UK who wants to join a uniformed youth group has the opportunity to do so.

Why does the Foundation work with Girlguiding?

Simply, because it's one of the largest and most established youth charities in the country.

It's exciting to have Girlguiding in the mix because each of the organisations has their own twist on the type of opportunities they offer to young people. Girlguiding is all about developing girls' confidence and supporting them to become strong women and strong leaders.

Also, this is the tradition I came through as a member of the Girl Scouts in the US - so on a personal level I'm really excited to be working with Girlguiding.

Why do you think it is so important for young people to become involved in their communities?

Firstly, the young person benefits - being involved in your community means you learn about giving back and about who you want to become as you grow up.

Secondly, the community benefits - we shouldn't underestimate the immense positive impact young people can have by getting involved and enriching the fabric of their communities.

Finally, unfortunately there is still a negative stereotype around young people in society - getting involved in their local area is a great way to break down that barrier and show that young people truly are a force for good.

Helping others has always been part of guiding – it's in the Promise! We're really keen to get even more girls involved in their communities. What do you think of the work Girlguiding has done so far to get girls involved in social action?

It's amazing! Girlguiding really creates a journey of being involved with the community. It starts with something very simple you can do at age five, then builds on that so by the time you're 15 you're making even more of an impact.

Tell us about a typical week as CEO of Youth United?

Every week I'll try and spend some time on the ground with units getting to see what's happening. For example, I might help out with a brand new Youth United group.

I work closely with the government and our other major partners to ensure we are delivering their vision for the programmes they fund.

I'll also spend a lot of time with data, making sure we understand how many units have opened, where they've opened and how the funding has been used.

Finally, I spend a lot of time with the CEOs of the 11 organisations. The only reason Youth United exists is to support uniformed youth groups to grow and so understanding each organisation's vision is key to that.

What do you like about being the CEO of Youth United?

This really is the best job in the world. I had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout in the US from age six all the way up to 18, then I was a troop leader and on the board for the Girl Scouts. I really don't think a girl from Tennessee would have had the opportunity to live in London and pursue the kind of career I have without the Girl Scouts.

As a result, increasing opportunities for young people to join uniformed groups is something I believe in very much. In just three years the Youth United organisations have created the same opportunities I had for almost 30,000 additional young people in the country – it's an unbelievable story based on the strength of amazing partners like Girlguiding!

Our work with Youth United

Together we're creating more opportunities for young people in the UK to join Girlguiding.