We’re postponing the 5th Kaya Co. Fellowship to 2019. Here’s why — and what we’re doing instead.

Kaya Collaborative turned four this year! That’s kind of a magic number for entrepreneurs: half of all small businesses don’t live to see their fourth birthday, and the odds are probably dimmer for nonprofits started by a group of broke college students. Not to jinx it, but we have proudly beaten the odds — and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Speaking of which, here’s another cool figure. Of the 54 Fellows we’ve brought back to the Philippines for a summer, 9 have chosen to return for a year or longer. That’s 1 out of every 6 Fellows who have chosen to pursue opportunities in the Philippines long-term.

If we had huddled together in 2014 and decided to create a program that would convince 1 out of 6 participants to return to the Philippines long-term, no one would have believed us. We wouldn’t have believed us.

That’s not counting the dozens of other Fellows who have taken their experience to lead in other ways, sharing stories of the Philippines, helping the Filipino diaspora see the Philippines in a different light. You can read through the stories of our latest class of Fellows here.

Building a movement that lasts

At the same time, it hasn’t been all triumph and wonder. Though we’ve maintained, expanded, and refined our program, what we haven’t been able to do is become sustainable as an organization and a movement. We’re still the same loose network of volunteers around the world, caught in the same loop of hunting for resources as we need them.

We’re dedicating this fifth year to making sure Kaya Collaborative becomes a sustainable organization — and beyond that, a movement that lasts. This means focusing our efforts this next year on financial sustainability as well as organizational sustainability — developing the processes, systems, and leaders that will keep our mission going from now until eternity.

It also means that we’ve decided to postpone the next Kaya Co. Fellowship until the summer of 2019. A long and honest evaluation of our bandwidth as a team has led us to believe that this pause is necessary. The past four years have shown us the impact and importance of the work that we’re doing; our task at hand now is making sure it keeps going.

Don’t worry — Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty might be skipping a year too, so it’s really just the cool new thing to do! The applications for the Kaya Co. Fellowship — one that’s better and more powerful than ever before — will open in Fall 2018.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course, we’re not just going to go radio silent for a full year. We’ve seen the demand for these pathways back to the Philippines, and we want to continue providing these opportunities for people even as we take the next year to focus on sustainability.

So we’ll be announcing a suite of new opportunities in 2018, including:

  • The Kaya Co. Enterprise Pipeline, an initiative by Kaya Collaborative LA, which will bring young leaders back to the Philippines for paid, professional internships in business and technology
  • Grants to support unpaid internships with nonprofits and small businesses in the Philippines (details to be announced in early 2018)
  • A summer 2018 event in Manila that will bring together balikbayans and leaders from the local community
  • … and more!

It’s going to be an exciting year — and perhaps the most important, if challenging, chapter of our mission. We hope that you’ll join us in taking Kaya Co. to the next level, sustaining our movement in the long term, and knitting the Philippines and its diaspora together forever (and ever, and ever.) To infinity and beyond.

If you have questions, feel free to send a message to us on Facebook or email us at kayacollaborative@gmail.com.