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Select 2023 Leadership and Democracy Fellows holding certificates after receiving the YouthLed Democracy Grant.
Amplifying youth’s impact. Select 2023 Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Fellows receive the YouthLed Democracy Grant to expand their projects focused on addressing community issues while strengthening meaningful youth participation in democratic governance.

MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA – Ten youth projects aimed at strengthening youth participation in democratic governance received Democracy Grants from the Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed) on April 10, 2024.

YouthLed, a joint project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Asia Foundation, culminated its second run of the Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Fellowship, where 35 Filipino youth leaders across the Philippines successfully completed the program.

Part of the fellowship’s support is a Democracy Grant, awarded to outstanding projects that promote democracy, civic engagement, and youth development. It aims to expand the impact of youth-led projects, thus contributing to the Centers of Youth Participation (COYP) of the Philippine Youth Development Plan 2023-2028 while also supporting youth’s meaningful participation in democratic governance.

Among these include initiatives promoting active citizenship and governance such as the Kasapi Politics Lab by Luis Antonio Tolentino Jr., a project that aims to establish a collaborative hub that can assist youth leaders and organizations in San Pedro, Laguna to engage actively in political processes. Sa Kawayan, Kaya Yan! (Project SKKY) by Jake Espina aspires to strengthen the skills of Sangguniang Kabataan officials in Kawayan, Biliran through leadership training and workshops. Youth-Led Actions Addressing Childhood Statelessness by Lemuel Dicolano works with youth leaders and the local government of Datu Blah Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte towards raising the community’s awareness of the importance of birth certificate registration to enable access to government support and services.

Also awarded with grants are projects fostering social inclusion and equity in communities. These include Restart Hope in Children in Conflict with the Law (Restart) by Fides Nadine Toribio, a project addressing the gaps experienced by youth in correctional settings. Currently piloted in Mandaluyong, its goal is to provide aftercare support to children in conflict with the law by equipping them with tools and skills to become productive members of society. 

Project #YouMatter by Edu Macabatas, on the other hand, aims to foster the functional integration of individuals with learning disabilities in Tagum City, Davao del Norte into society by developing referral pathways facilitated by rehabilitation interventions and community support.

Two projects focused on youth’s economic empowerment were also awarded with Democracy Grant. These were Reigna by Capt. Caroline Jhoy Nacional, a social enterprise innovating coconut-based cosmetics while supporting young women in Mindupok, Sarangani Province gain market access and employment opportunities; and Project Deafenders by Raymart “Ryl” Garcia, an initiative that works with various stakeholders in Brgy. Commonwealth, Quezon City in providing deaf and hard-hearing individuals with meaningful livelihood opportunities.

YouthLed also awarded grants to projects focused on health, education, and the environment. Project Huna-una by Jenelyn Tabugoc aims to make mental health services more accessible to children and youth in Brgy. San Juan in Molo, Iloilo City by establishing a mental health corner in their barangay. Tabugoc and her team successfully lobbied and passed a barangay ordinance institutionalizing a mental health policy in their community, thus further receiving support for their initiatives.

ALWAR x Go Bike Project by Edren Llanillo, on the other hand, is a disaster resilience project that aims to build the capacities of youth in Bugallon, Pangasinan to become efficient disaster responders and equip them with a bicycle that comes with a first aid kit. 

Finally, Alabarts by Gabriel Villaruel brings forth the culture, arts, and heritage of Alabat, Quezon Province under the spotlight by establishing a creative hub for the youth and campaigning for their active participation in the creative field. 

The LEAD Fellowship aims to train the next generation of leaders in navigating platforms for democratic governance through specialized courses, discussing topics on democracy and governance, project management, social innovation, and servant leadership anchored on YouthLed’s Youth Leadership Development framework. Program courses were implemented through strategic partnerships with the Asian Institute of Management, the Ateneo School of Government, and the Ayala Foundation, Inc. 

Learn more about the LEAD Fellowship program by visiting the YouthLed website at

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