Welcome to Kaya Collaborative’s new site! Follow this blog for updates on our Fellowship, the stories of our Fellows, and the movement surrounding it all.


When Kaya Collaborative began in August 2013, we were a loose collective of college students in different US schools who were united by a love for the Philippines, a critical perspective on how global development worked, and a belief that it could be different. We weren’t sure how we were going to do it – or if our approach was really going to work – but we knew that we cared enough to try. That was enough for Chapter 1.

By 2014, though, the idea of the Kaya Collaborative Fellowship had transformed into something very real. By January, our application was open. By April, we had most of the funding in the bank to make it happen. By May, we had a group of 14 young Filipino-Americans preparing to dive back into the Philippines and get to know their motherland from the lens of leadership and impact for the first time.

By June, we were there with them – learning, struggling, living and working together amid the noise and beauty of a country that in some ways always was, and in other ways could never be, ours.

That experience allowed us to open up the horizons of our work, to imagine all the other ways that we could connect the Filipino diaspora to its motherland. This was Chapter 2 of our work. It was an era of experimentation, trying a dozen things and failing in all but one if we were lucky. Meanwhile, as a team and a community, we were learning and growing too. After the Philippines, we all ended up back in our different corners of the United States – only to be scattered even more as graduation came and careers changed and people grew up.

I spent much of that chapter working in DC with Ashoka, the nonprofit that had popularized the social entrepreneurship movement. Between downloading all I could from their decades of history and their networks of changemakers, all of my weeknights and weekends were spent working on Kaya Co. I would take every possible opportunity to go back to the Philippines – to peer back into how the community of leaders and friends that I had gotten to know were progressing with their ideas and their movements. Until one fateful drive when Micaela Beltran and I decided to stop everything else and dedicate ourselves to this work full-time.

It’s November 2016 now, and the scene once again looks very different. Where we were once a small group of volunteers in US universities, our global footprint has expanded, and our base in the Philippines now has 3 people working full-time on our mission. Where we were once endlessly experimenting, we now know where we want to go – and for the first time, we have most of the resources at hand to get there. At the very least, enough to start.

This is Chapter 3 of our work. It’s been around a year in the making. Now it’s time for us to share the future of this mission with you. We don’t want to give it all away at once, so we’ll reveal it a piece at a time over the next year, starting with our new site – a refresh to get us all in the spirit of what’s coming up.

It won’t end here, though. Here’s a bit of what to expect over the next 12 months:

  • An expanded Fellowship! It’ll be bigger and better this year, and not just for the sake of growth. We want to connect the diaspora to the full spectrum of diverse initiatives for change in the Philippines, and our fourth Fellowship will raise the bar on how we’re making it happen. In the next few months specifically, expect a regular stream of new content and new information leading up to our 2017 Fellowship application deadline.
  • More pathways home. For some people, a 2-month internship is not enough; for others, it’s too much to fit into the near term. We’ve been working hard to create new pathways – longer-term, shorter-term, and remote – that connect them to some of the leading initiatives for social impact in the Philippines.
  • Who is Kaya Co? Our family of movers and creators has swelled since we first launched our website, and we’ll be taking steps to show you more of that family tree – so you can take action, reach out, and join the movement in ways that make the most sense to you.
  • What is a community? Our networks have been growing since the start, but it wasn’t until recently that we’ve been able to step back and give our global community the level of attention and thought that it deserves. We have plans in place to better organize, cultivate, and mobilize our people from the US to Canada and the world beyond.
  • A new roadmap. Bit by bit, we’ll be sharing our vision for how Kaya Co. will evolve over the next few years – and how we plan on getting there.
  • A new identity. We’re always in the process figuring out who we are – from our mission to our brand to the most core parts of our identity. This year, we’ll be sharing some of the results of our reflections – and more importantly, tapping into your thoughts, your opinions, and your ideas in the process.
  • Much, much more!

As always, here’s to building a stronger Filipino nation – in the Philippines and beyond. We’re in it for long game, and we hope to have you with us for the journey.