Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN)

YouthCAN is the leading global youth network dedicated to countering extremism, polarisation, hate speech and disinformation.

The YouthCAN community unites over 1,900 young activists, creatives and tech entrepreneurs in more than 130 countries to amplify their efforts worldwide.

YouthCAN works to:

Empower youth through training and resources which enable them to act independently as leaders for change

Increase the amount of effective youth-led and youth-focused content available to address extremist propaganda by working directly with young.

Elevate youth voices to policy makers to affect change, and encourage stakeholders to involve youth in a meaningful way in policy development.

Provide insight to policy makers and other stakeholders to help ensure programmes and policies which affect youth are informed and relevant.

Connect young people across the globe with other activists and professionals working in other sectors who can support their activism.

The online YouthCAN network engages young people and provides them with the tools they need to create effective content aimed at challenging hate speech and extremism. Offline, our Youth Innovation Labs provide young activists with the resources and expertise to develop and deliver counter-speech campaigns for tackling issues affecting young people in their communities.

In 2017, YouthCAN partnered with another ISD project – the Strong Cities Network – to develop the Young Cities project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project aims to connect young activists and youth leaders with local policy-makers and municipal authorities, deliver training to build their capacities to enact change together, and establish a more permanent framework for dialogue.

The project is currently in its seventh phase: implementing its second Digital Youth Innovation Lab, this time in Lahore, Pakistan, while overcoming the challenges that COVID-19 has presented.

Diverse City Tours: a campaign to foster social cohesion in Islamabad

Diverse City Tours: a campaign to foster social cohesion in Islamabad

Participants of our Youth Innovation Lab, Islamabad 2019

Participants of our Youth Innovation Lab, Islamabad 2019

A campaign to counter COVID-related misinformation reached more than 4 million people

A campaign to counter COVID-related misinformation reached more than 4 million people

ISD’s YouthCAN team

Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Senior Manager at ISD, where she leads on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education through the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities programmes. Kelsey has developed strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging, working closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also has worked, through Young Cities, to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. She is the co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Jasmeet Sahotay
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Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

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Jasmeet Sahotay
Jasmeet Sahotay

Project Coordinator

Jasmeet is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the YouthCAN and Young Cities projects. Jasmeet supports the delivery of the Youth Innovation Labs, manages the YouthCAN communication strategy, and supports the development of new project activities and strategies. Jasmeet was previously a programme coordinator at PATRIR, an internationally recognised peacebuilding think tank which is based in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He is the co-author of the ISD report Voices of Pakistani Youth: Lessons for Civil Society in the Development of Effective Counter-Narrative Campaigns. He holds a Masters in International Law, Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy & Politics from the University of Leeds.