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NEW YORK (April 21, 2015) – His Holiness Pope Francis and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake met today in Rome to launch a new partnership that will provide more disadvantaged adolescents with the skills, information and understanding they need to become fully participating citizens of their societies – and the world.  

The new partnership between Scholas Occurrentes, an educational organization founded by the Pope, and UNICEF builds on a shared belief in the potential and power of young people.

The five-year collaboration will focus on expanding the access of more adolescents, especially the most disadvantaged, to technology, sports and the arts -- platforms for education, participation  and peacebuilding where young people can come together to learn about themselves, each other, and the world around them.

“Scholas would like in some way to combine everyone’s efforts for education,” Pope Francis said. “It would like to harmoniously reform the educational pact, for only in this way — if all those in charge of the education of our children and young people work together — can education change. This is why Scholas seeks to include culture, sport and science; this is why Scholas looks for bridges, emerging from the “small” and reaching elsewhere. Today, this perspective, this interaction, is being implemented on all the continents.” 

Scholas and UNICEF will initially collaborate on joint global activities, including to help end violence and promote connectivity for all youth, drawing on each other’s unique capacities to engage adolescents and expand their access to tools and information for connecting, communicating and cooperating. 

The two organizations will explore links between their respective social and media mobilization platforms and jointly support digital campaigns and social movements for the most disadvantaged children. Specific plans for collaboration include engaging the Scholas network through content and youth engagement opportunities on Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s online space for adolescents and young people.  UNICEF will also adapt U-report for the Scholas global community, enabling its members to join the nearly 500,000 young people who already use the mobile-based platform to speak out and participate.

The organizations will also develop new opportunities to collaborate around major global youth-focused events, including the GenUin – Special Olympics Social Impact Summit, to be held during the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. In 2016, the partnership will begin to explore other initiatives at regional, national and community levels, including joint awareness campaigns and advocacy actions on issues affecting millions of disadvantaged adolescents.

Young people between the ages of 10 and 19 represent nearly 20 percent of the world population. The vast majority of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents live in developing countries. Providing the most disadvantaged adolescents with meaningful opportunities to participate, and new ways to connect and learn from one another, can help them fulfil their own potential and contribute to their own societies. This can be especially important in countries caught up in conflict, where bringing young people together across divides of ethnicity, race, and religion can help break intergenerational cycles of violence and strengthen the fabric of society.

“UNICEF is excited to support Scholas in its work, and to join our efforts to improve the lives of adolescents,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Adolescence is a pivotal time -- an age of risk but also an age of opportunity.  Young people who learn to work together and solve common problems are developing skills that will do more than help them build better futures for themselves. They are developing habits of citizenship that can help them build a better future for the world.”

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About Scholas Occurrentes

Scholas Occurrentes, latin for “Schools for encounter”, is an educational network backed by Pope Francis. It is a global initiative to promote integration and foster peace among peoples, through education. This network connects more than 400,000 schools and educational networks of all religions, both public and private.

For more information about Scholas and its work visit:

Follow us on Facebook: /scholasoccurrentes Twitter: @InfoScholas Instagram: @ScholasOccurrentes, Google +: Scholas Occurrentes


The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:

Marci Greenberg, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2464,