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Ready to LEAD. YouthLed and partners welcome 40 new Leadership and Democracy Fellows at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City last July 14, 2023. The Fellows will participate in a two-year youth leadership development program.


Ready to LEAD. YouthLed and partners welcome 40 new Leadership and Democracy Fellows at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City last July 14, 2023. The Fellows will participate in a two-year youth leadership development program.

Makati City, Philippines – The Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed) project held a launch ceremony on July 14, 2023 to announce the newest cohort of the highly anticipated Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Fellowship program at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City, Metro Manila. 

YouthLed, a joint project between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Asia Foundation, onboarded 40 new LEAD Fellows who are set to develop their political leadership skills grounded in a deep appreciation for democracy and democratic values, structures, and systems. The LEAD Fellowship is YouthLed’s two-year flagship program for youth leadership development, comprising a series of learning sessions, workshops, and mentorship programs.

“We invest in the youth because we are investing in the future of our democracy. Our youth play a vital role in shaping our democratic landscape and safeguarding its core principles, sustaining the continued progress of our society,” said YouthLed Chief of Party Natalie Christine Jorge.

For the new cohort, YouthLed introduced three executive tracks to cater to different phases and directions of youth leadership: Aspiring Leaders, Governance Champions, and Changemakers tracks.

The Aspiring Leaders track aims to build general competencies of emerging youth leaders focused on honing their democratic values, principles, and servant leadership skills.

Gusto kong hikayatin ang mga kabataan sa makabagong henerasyon na pahalagahan at kilalanin ang sektor ng agrikultura,” shared Eunie May Fernando, an Aspiring Leader from Baler, Aurora, who is advocating for increased support to the agricultural sector. She also expressed in her message on behalf of the 10 LEAD Fellows under the Aspiring Leaders track their eagerness to grow in the program, “Through this LEAD Fellowship, I want to create inclusive spaces where youth can work together towards common goals and amplify their voices.” 

Ahmed Ibn Djaliv Hataman, Provincial Board Member of the 1st District of the Province of Basilan, also highlighted in his message the potential of youth to serve, “In my work so far, I’ve met people who I’ve learned so much from, who’ve only confirmed my suspicions, and reaffirmed my hopes — that the potential for leadership can be found in people all around us, all they need is the right opportunity.” 

Hataman is from the Governance Champions track, a specialized course that aims to develop the capacity of youth in public service and those who want to create an impact through policy reform. Twelve LEAD Fellows will undergo this track. “We must empower each other, fight to earn the privilege of leadership, and most importantly, extend our power and opportunity to those who otherwise wouldn’t have had them,” he added.

Capping the messages from the fellows was Gabriel Villaruel, Artistic Director of PINTAKASI, a youth-led non-profit multi-arts organization. Gabriel is a LEAD Fellow under the Changemakers track, who reminded his co-fellows about the importance of volunteerism. “Kaya dapat nating tandaan, na bolunterismo ang nananalaytay sa dugo ng tagumpay ng kwento ng ating mga daan-daang bayani, ng EDSA People Power Revolution, at ng kasaysayang iginuguhit palang natin ngayon. Imagine the power we have if all of us realize this now.

The Changemakers track is a specialized course that aims to enhance the capacity of youth to lead organizations and manage projects. Eighteen fellows make up the Changemakers track, the largest group in the fellowship.

In his welcoming address, USAID Democracy and Governance Team Lead Mohamed Dansoko reiterated the need for youth leadership support. “We all know that the challenges ahead are daunting — embattled democracies, intensified climate change, increasing food insecurity, and more. Through all these, we have more than enough evidence of youth making a difference in their respective countries and at the global stage. Our combined effort to train and support young leadership have never been more crucial and with no doubt bring meaningful change.” 

The Asia Foundation Deputy Country Representative Myn Garcia also expressed the Foundation’s support for the LEAD Fellowship program and the value it brings to Filipino youth. “By grounding youth leadership, youth leaders like yourselves in this room, in a comprehensive understanding of democratic governance, we are contributing to the process of strengthening young leaders to navigate and optimize multiple platforms for constructive engagement in governance.”

Beyond training, the LEAD Fellows will also access a grant support of up to Php250,000 to assist them in implementing their Change Projects geared towards developing their communities and increasing youth participation in democratic governance.

Following the success of the fellowship program inaugurated in 2021, YouthLed partnered once again with the Asian Institute of Management, the Ateneo School of Government, and the Ayala Foundation, Inc. in co-implementing the Fellowship with the second cohort. This cohort’s LEAD Fellowship journey will culminate in April 2024.

For partnerships with the LEAD Fellows, kindly email YouthLed at


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