About Young Cities

Our Approach

Five fundamental principles underpin everything we do, ensuring that our work with cities and young people remains pioneering and impactful.


We work closely with local governments, civil society organisations and young people to tailor programmes that are relevant and responsive to their needs.

Our cities


Our innovative approach enables future generations of young activists to develop their own solutions to issues that their communities face.



We collaborate with policy makers, human rights organisations, creatives and others, so that our programming is informed by different perspectives.

Policy & Practice


We tackle the most pressing issues facing cities by ensuring our programmes are always rooted in research.



We empower young people to work independently and sustainably, providing them follow-up opportunities.

Our Model

Our Story

In 2018, the Young Cities programme was launched to help young people and local governments address the challenges facing their communities.

Young Cities is designed as a partnership between our sister projects, The Strong Cities Network (SCN) and the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN). By combining SCN’s experience with supporting cities globally, and YouthCAN’s innovative approach to empowering young activists, Young Cities is fostering unique and collaborative solutions powered by young people and in tandem with local governments as they address the challenges of hate, polarisation and extremism.

All three projects are initiatives of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a leading organisation in understanding and innovating real-world responses to the rising tide of polarisation, hate and extremism. Young Cities draws upon ISD’s expertise to improve engagement with young people in tackling these issues.

With the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), we have supported young people in nine cities across Kenya, Lebanon, Senegal and North Macedonia. We will be launching in Jordan in 2021.

Our Team

Close-knit, energetic and diligent. These are the characteristics of the Young Cities team who work with passion to empower young people all over the world.

Sabine Barton

Senior Project Manager (Maternity Leave)

Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Project Manager

Moustafa Ayad

Executive Director (AMEA), ISD

Duaa Khalid

Senior Manager, Operations

Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa

Martina Lappo

Coordinator, West Africa

Simeon Dukic

Manager, Western Balkans

Jasmeet Sahotay

Coordinator, Communications

Emir Hasanović

Coordinator, Western Balkans

A Joint Initiative

Young Cities is a truly cross-sectoral and collaborative programme. It works alongside the Strong Cities Network and YouthCAN to deliver sustainable and local solutions led by young people and municipal governments.

Working closely with a team of local staff and partners, Young Cities leads locally-driven research with partners that understand their communities. We tailor programmes geared to mobilise young people and local leaders looking to make change, impacting hundreds of thousands of young people across our member cities.

Strong Cities Network

Launched at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, the Strong Cities Network (SCN) is the first-ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policymakers and practitioners that are united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.

Comprised of more than 145 cities across 45 countries, the SCN builds collaboration between mayors, local leaders and community groups to tackle polarisation, hate and extremism in local communities in every major global region.

Visit the Strong Cities Network website.


The Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) is a global community for young activists that was created to understand, encourage and amplify positive grassroots efforts against violent extremism and hate speech.

YouthCAN encourages collaboration between young activists to make a positive change in their communities. The network informs, inspires and supports young people through capacity building programmes, micro-grants, campaign resources and support, as well as an online community young activists globally.

Visit the YouthCAN website.

Institute for Strategic Dialogue

Founded in 2006, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is a leading global ‘think and do’ tank dedicated to understanding and innovating real-world responses to the rising tide of polarisation, hate, disinformation and extremism in all its forms.

In addition to capacity-building programming for young people such as Young Cities, ISD utilises state-of-the-art data analysis tools to track hate, disinformation and extremism online; supports policy development through advice and training; and works with schools and local governments to improve digital education globally.

Visit the ISD website.

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Norwegian MFA’s generous funding of Young Cities has helped it grow from city to city. Their support enables us to impact the communities in the ways they need the most.

One of the fundamental tenets of the MFA is to further global peace, security and youth empowerment – not just in the interest of Norway but of the international community. We are grateful for their continued support of the Young Cities programme.

Visit the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Our Partners

Young Cities works closely with local organisations from the communities in which we work, who are crucial to effective delivery. They help us understand the local context, connect us with key actors, and play a vital role in fostering creative talent among youth.


centre for common ground

Democracy lab

human rights agenda


Get In Touch

If you would like to find out more about our impact, or would like to discuss future opportunities, we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch