Young Jamaican leader selected as delegate for 2020 YOUNGA UN Forum

JŽnine Shepherd, addressing youths at a 2019 diaspora conference in Jamaica.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Jenine Shepherd, Jamaican Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in Nation Building recipient, will on Oct. 24, represent Youths For Excellence Limited at the inaugural YOUNGA forum, organized by BridgingTheGap Ventures, a first-of-a-kind virtual global youth takeover of the United Nations, themed “2020—the future youth want, the action we need.”

Using VR and XR technologies, YOUNGA will connect 1,500 youth delegates with top-level decision-makers and influencers to co-create solutions to global challenges like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The hopes, concerns and ideas of young people for the future identified by youth delegates will be presented to world leaders through the 2020 YOUNGA online broadcast and a world-first virtual reality event, alongside the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

The brilliant 22-year-old, executive director of Youths For Excellence Limited, a non-profit she founded at 17, and provides food, school supplies, tutoring and healthcare via the aid of 24 corporate and government sponsors, JUTC, KFC, Grace Kennedy Limited and Digicel, will share her insights for the future.

Speakers will include senior leaders from the World Health Organization, UN Foundation, UNAIDS, The World Bank Group, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and a variety of celebrity mentors.

“Jamaica does not exist in a vacuum. Discussions by youth across the globe with key decision makers are crucial for us to accomplish Vision 2030 for our island. This is what YOUNGA provides,” states Shepherd.

“For the past five years I have been working tirelessly to eradicate education inequality across the Caribbean region. It pains my heart to see the inequity that exists. The time for discussion and action is now,” she said.

YOUNGA, which also provides families of the children with opportunities for career and personal development, has to date, provided close to 800 children with holistic education support.

Jénine has been brought in by CARICOM, the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Caribbean Development Foresight Institute to host and organize discussions with the United Nations Development Program, UNESCO, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Organization of American States around policies in education, healthcare and economic development post COVID-19 for the Caribbean region.

Shepherd who was recently appointed president of the Jamaica Youth Alliance, (JAYA), a New York based 501(c) (3) that supports Jamaicans in the USA with the endorsements of the US and Jamaican governments to provide networking and mentorship opportunities and a platform for advocacy on issues affecting diaspora members, said the organization has partnered with American friends to host a virtual benefit concert in Europe.

The concert will be co-hosted by DJ Khaled and Busta Rhymes, in aid of the COVID-19 relief in Jamaica. The Embassy of Jamaica in Brussels and European diaspora groups will join to raise funds and organize repatriation flights in aid of Jamaicans stranded in France due to COVID-19.

At 21, she served as part of the core team that drafted the policy for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign trade.

Through this proposal she ensures that 3.5 million Jamaicans residing in the USA, UK and Canada are heard on issues of cultural estrangement, how they can get involved in policy making, and how they can contribute to businesses, education, national security, and other matters relating to restoring confidence in Jamaica for Vision 2030.

To learn more about how the Forum provides young people with an accessible and inclusive platform to voice their ideas concerning the action needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda, visit

Join the global conversation on social media by following #YOUNGA2020 and @wearebridgingthegap (Instagram) and @btg_ventures (Twitter).