Manila, December 22, 2020 — On December 19, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines recognized the achievements of Filipino youth organizations making a positive impact on their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters of 2020 with the YOUnified Awards Night. The event is part of the 7th Anniversary celebration of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), the U.S. government’s flagship program to strengthen youth leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.
At the Awards Night, YSEALI recognized eight youth organizations that led projects promoting environmental sustainability and food security, good governance, volunteerism and community mobilization, and economic development. The winning organizations will receive a plaque and Php 50,000 grants ($1,030) from the U.S. Embassy to bolster their community initiatives.
Sulong Kabataan Youth Organization, an award winner from Binangonan, Rizal, mobilized 112 youth to raise Php2.3 million ($47,500) to provide food, hygiene kits, and personal protective equipment for 1,112 families displaced by the recent typhoons. Another awardee, Sakai.QC, developed a Facebook and Viber bot that provided reliable driving routes and directions and COVID-19 updates to almost 20,000 commuters in Quezon City. Other winners included GoodGov PH, Keep Hope Alive, Accessible Assistance Alliance, Light In Giving Hope for Tomorrow, Inc., Global Shapers Iloilo, and the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Baybay, Leyte.
“Although the ongoing global pandemic has restricted the ability to hold in-person YOUnified events, YSEALI members have still found innovative ways to collaborate and promote positive change across the region,” said U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Law. YSEALI members throughout Southeast Asia are organizing 261 online and in-person community service projects, including 76 in the Philippines, in December alone.
“Our young people’s appetite for change and reform is quite large, and they are looking forward to some rapid changes in society, in politics, and life in general. Hopefully, you can all play your roles in being instruments of change — good change — and reforms,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara challenged the attendees.
Since its launch in 2013, YSEALI has provided Southeast Asian youth leaders with educational and cultural exchanges to the United States and Southeast Asian countries, seed funding for innovative project ideas, and training programs on civic engagement, sustainable development, education, and economic growth. YSEALI has grown to become a network of more than 150,000 youth leaders in Southeast Asia, including more than 28,000 in the Philippines.