This dissertation examines how youth empowerment is conceptualized and experienced by youth in Nairobi, Kenya. The study is based on a four-year longitudinal study of youth who participated in a non-formal, vocational training program. The findings demonstrate the complex ways youth seek, engage, and enact empowerment in their lives and suggest that youth conceptualizations of empowerment are more complex than the discourse that surrounds youth empowerment efforts heralded through vocational or entrepreneurial training. Based on the findings of this study I propose a multidimensional model of empowerment that is grounded in youth’s lived experiences and constructions of the empowerment process. These dimensions - marketable skills and knowledge, personal development, aspirations, and undugu - reflect the economic, social, and cultural settings in which youth live. Through an examination of these four dimensions, I explore the role of empowerment as a catalyst as youth strive to move from youth- to adulthood.