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What YAO Taught Me About Community

By Allison Kooser

Community matters.

For Opportunity International clients, the community provided by Trust Groups allows our clients to feel accountable, challenged and encouraged as they build their businesses and work their way out of poverty.

For Opportunity supporters, community is equally important. Our personal networks – our friends, families, workplaces and churches – provide us with a much-needed sense of belonging and support.

Understanding this power of community, five years ago we launched a network of young professionals committed to supporting the work of Opportunity International. This group – Young Ambassadors for Opportunity – has become a vibrant and diverse collection of people who are passionate about ending global poverty – and who are working toward that goal together.

In New York, Young Ambassadors plan and put on a large gala each year, raising thousands of dollars to fund loans for clients around the world. 

In Minnesota, Young Ambassadors are building connections between their group and other like-minded communities in the area. By forging relationships with local Governors and Ambassadors, YAO-Minnesota is increasing awareness of Opportunity in Minneapolis and beyond.

And in Chicago, Young Ambassadors host monthly book clubs and discussions to better educate their community about global poverty and microfinance. These conversations become a catalyst for the chapter’s fundraising and awareness-building, equipping them with the skills and talking points they need to effectively advocate for the end of extreme poverty.

If there is one thing we have learned from YAO, it is that, while each individual Young Ambassador is incredibly smart and talented, together they truly have the power to change the world. Because we really are better together. Our talents and skills and interests combine to do big things and create lasting impact – for ourselves, and for Opportunity’s clients.

Working with the Young Ambassadors community is one of the greatest joys of my career. To see people stepping out, contributing their time, talent and treasure and working together to tackle an enormous challenge is inspiring. It reminds me why the work we are doing matters. And it reminds me to seek community – because it is in these places of common interest that our individual assets can really shine.


Young Ambassadors for Opportunity connects young professionals in over a dozen cities around the US to educate, people-raise and fundraise for Opportunity International. Learn more about YAO and connect with a YAO community near you!

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