Austin Belali is Director of the Youth Engagement Fund at the Democracy Alliance. Belali believes youth development and engagement is the key to a more generative economy. Before coming to the YEF, Belali led a major organizational change process at the 2.1-million-member Service Employees International Union to put youth and emerging leaders in the drivers’ seat of progressive social change. In 2013, his thought leadership and fundraising ability helped create a leadership network for minority youth and students promoting racial equity and inclusion on college campuses
As YEF Director, Belali commissioned a set of new data indexes to help funders better target resources for youth voter engagement, capacity-building and leadership development. Under Belali’s leadership the Fund has moved nearly $3 million in aligned and pooled grant making and established partnerships with major institutional funders including the Ford Foundation to improve youth outcomes and opportunities.
Belali is currently a member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and co-chairs the Development Committee on the board of a low-wage immigrant organization known as CASA. His philanthropic endeavors gained him recognition in the September 2016 issue of Washington Life Magazine, and his writing about young people and social change have been published in the Non-Profit Quarterly, Huffington Post, the Hill and MSNBC among other outlets. Belali is a music composer and recently produced original music for the New York-based think tank Demos.
Belali has a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University in Washington D.C. As an undergraduate he interned at a cheese micro-enterprise in the Andes mountains of Ecuador and studied abroad in New Delhi, India. After graduation, Belali spent a year teaching high school students in Dakar, Senegal and established the school’s first Advanced Placement course in Comparative Government.