Rey’s Philippine Social Enterprise Project

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end my first semester here at the Harvard Kennedy School. Over the last few months I’ve been knee-deep in the ethics of public service, the quantitative joys of microeconomics and statistical analysis, and riveting cases in the nonprofit and educational sectors. While I am loving my academic experience, I have been yearning to get my hands dirty — to apply these learnings to something real and tangible. Just when I was starting to get this itch, an amazing opportunity popped up!

GK Community Members
GK Community Members

Back in early November, I had the privilege of meeting Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga (GK, which means to “give care”), one of the Philippines’s largest and most successful NGOs addressing poverty in my home country. At a presentation at Harvard, he spoke passionately about GK’s mission to eradicate poverty for over 5 million Filipinos over the next decade by building communities and empowering impoverished people. I was inspired and hooked.

I had never met a Filipino who was so passionate about a social cause until that day, and I knew I wanted to learn more from him and GK. After chatting with him at school and through a few international video conferences, I volunteered to do a consulting project with GK. Based on their needs and my background, I will create a strategy to scale GK’s newest initiative, the Center for Social Enterprise. Basically I will help GK figure out how to create more business incubators in low income communities, so more people are empowered to be entrepreneurs in their communities across the Philippines.

Community building

I just could not pass up the opportunity to make a difference with skills I’ve learned both professionally at BUILD and academically at Harvard. So instead of hanging out on the couch during my winter break, I’ll be spending about 20 days in the Philippines in January to do field research in Manila. I’ll be meeting with GK staff and community members, learning the ins and outs of their process, and formulating a replication strategy that is founded not only on the theoretical stuff I’m learning here, but, more importantly, the practical day-to-day operations. On a personal note, this will enable me to give back to the country in which I was born and will hopefully be the start of my foray into international development work. Because this project goes beyond the expectations of schoolwork here at Harvard, there is no funding available for first year students to do international development projects.

This is where you, my kind and generous friends, come in. I leave in about one month, on Dec 29 for Manila, and I need to raise $2,500 to allay the expenses of the trip, like my flight, food, public transportation, etc. If you and 99 other friends donate just $25, I’ll be set and more Filipinos in low income communities will have the opportunity to start socially responsible businesses that improve their communities. Any amount I make over $2,500 will go straight to GK as a donation.

I hope that you will be able to support me and GK’s mission by making a donation today and by spreading the word to other friends who may be able to help. Thank you!

Click here to donate.

Final Notes

  • Learn more about Gawad Kalinga here or here.
  • Donations of $25 or more will be acknowledged in the report I submit to GK.
  • If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. Twitter: @reyfaustino, Email: rey_faustino [at]

The Positive Deviance Approach

I’m currently reading a book called Better, by Atul Gawande, that shares insightful stories about medical practice from a surgeon’s perspective. The stories highlight how medical professionals are only human and therefore must always be diligent and resourceful in fulfilling their duties — and the stories have lessons that spill outside of the hospital and even into the education system. What stuck out to me was a story about how hospital microbiologists tried and failed at getting medical staff to wash their hands more frequently — as you may know med staff were/are the primary carriers of infectious bacteria in hospitals so minimizing the amount of bacteria on their hands dramatically decreases the rate of infection in hospitals.

A hospital in Pittsburgh brought in Industrial Engineer Peter Perreiah to solve the problem of hospital infections in one wing of the hospital — and he created systems and structures that “made each hospital room work more like an operating roomâ€� (where they are very diligent about being disinfected). For a while his “Search-and-destroyâ€� strategy worked: “Infection rates for MRSA fell almost 90 percent.â€� However, after two years these great ideas only spread to ONE other wing at the hospital… Why? Perreiah came in and told people how they had to change rather than “building on the capabilities people already had.â€�

After reading an article about how Save the Children changed their approach to improving child nutrition in poverty stricken villages in Vietnam, he came across the idea of Positive Deviance, which “is an approach to behavioral and social change based on the observation that in a community, there are people (Positive Deviants) whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite having no special resources or knowledge.” Through the positive deviance approach, an important assumption is that communities already have the solutions to the problem. They are the best experts to solve their own problems.

So this time they tried the positive deviance approach with a series of 30-minute, small group discussions with all the health care workers in hospital. They had no agenda: “We’re here because of the infection problem and we want to know what YOU know about how to solve it.� And from this came great discussion and furthermore ownership of the solutions. And the results were staggering: rate of MRSA infection dropped to zero the next year and stayed that way.

What does this have to do with education or for any kind of initiative, you ask? If you think about it, organizations–whether governmental, nonprofit or business–approach problems like that industrial engineer approached the problem initially. He used his expertise to to minimize waste and increase efficiency, and above all he mandated the solutions to the hospital. Many organizations purport to have the best solution, most efficient way to handle a situation, or the most optimal way to eradicate a problem. But how many of those solutions actually stick around once the organization leaves? And isn’t the point of a nonprofit organization to work its way to nonexistence — because by reaching the nonprofit’s mission, you thereby render that nonprofit irrelevant.

Yet there are many examples of organizations that operate in communities without drawing solutions, ideas, and representation directly from the very people in the communities. Please note that I’m not criticizing how well these organizations operate. In fact, some operate extremely well. But if that organization, or that group of people, left the community, would their lasting legacy be a self-sustaining system that empowers the people of the community or would their lasting legacy be forgotten in a dusty pile from those who tried and failed to create something that the community embraced?

This makes me think of the renewed energy in the New Orleans’ education sector where most of the schools are now run by national charter management organizations and staffed by bright-eyed outsiders. When the appeal of “saving” New Orleans runs out, will these people stay? And more importantly, when shaping the new education landscape, did they elicit solutions from and empower the citizens of New Orleans to create a sustainable new education system?

I hope so. Sustainability and a community-based approach should be tantamount to any organization that wishes to improve the livelihood and well-being of those living in poverty.

NYTimes Article: Surge in nonprofit courses at universities around the country

When do people know that they want to enter the nonprofit sector? Ask any sixth grader what he wants to be when he grows up, and he’ll tell you he wants to be a firefighter, doctor or lawyer. But he probably won’t say that he wants to be a program manager at a nonprofit organization.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that my path was leading me towards the nonprofit sector–to the chagrin of my dad who wanted me to be in the business sector. Although I enjoyed business and love entrepreneurship, running Troy Camp for the kids of inner city Los Angeles was what really lit my fire. For the longest time I tried to deny that, but my path is clear, and has been for quite some time now–otherwise I wouldn’t be so happy at BUILD, now would I? And this is the very reason why we are starting Level 5 (, so that young people who have heart and passion can also be equipped with the leadership and communications skills necessary to affect change in the nonprofit sector.

Amber was kind enough to send me this interesting article about how there has been a surge in nonprofit leadership and management courses at universities across the country. Read a few choice excerpts below, or check out the full article here:

KORBI ADAMS says she learned about nonprofit work from her high school clarinet teacher, who also directed her youth orchestra and would include Ms. Adams in her fund-raising activities.

“The community engagement stuff — it lit my fire,� said Ms. Adams, now 22. “I thought that was what I wanted to do: to combine arts and an outreach in nonprofit management.�

Ms. Adams decided to attend Arizona State University, where she majored in music and received a certificate for courses she took under the American Humanics program, which was founded in 1948 to encourage community work, including nonprofit administration, and is available at colleges around the country.

A 2008 graduate, she is now in what she calls her dream job, an education assistant at Childsplay, a nonprofit theater in Tempe, Ariz., where she works in arts education. “I’m learning how to very carefully mind the budget,� she said, noting that working with grant money requires carefully hewing to the bottom line.

The do-good desires of Ms. Adams and many members of her “Gen Y� cohort have sparked a surge in nonprofit management and leadership courses at colleges and universities, building on the example of the American Humanics certification program. More than 230 colleges and universities across the United States offer courses in those areas, up from 179 a decade ago, a 2007 study at Seton Hall University found.

Click here for the full article.

Launching a New Social Venture

My friends and I are on a mission to level the playing field in the leadership of the nonprofit sector, and we need your help.

Over tea at a cafe, my friend Karla and I lamented the lack of development opportunities for young professionals of color in the nonprofit sector. We witnessed our friends leave nonprofit to pursue careers in the for-profit sector because of this very reason.

And then we saw the severe lack of leadership diversity in the nonprofit sector. Did you know that people of color lead just 16% of nonprofit organizations nationwide? Sixteen percent! We instinctively thought that in order for nonprofit organizations to level the playing field for their clients, they first need to level the playing field in the leadership of their organizations.

There is a large pool of talented and motivated young people of color that want to make a difference in their communities. But high barriers to entry such as noncompetitive wages, limited career advancement, and few professional development opportunities continue to deter young people of color from pursuing careers in nonprofit. This untapped talent pool holds the key to making a lasting impact in the diverse communities that nonprofits serve.

Because we are tired of waiting for change to happen, we are choosing instead to make change ourselves. Thus, we created the Level 5 Project to increase diversity in the nonprofit sector by developing and empowering a corps of young professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Our flagship project will be the Level 5 Fellowship, which will provide young professionals of color with challenging leadership training, including an intensive curriculum and dynamic hands-on mentoring. We will award up to six fellowships to motivated, driven students from diverse backgrounds to join the charter cohort by spring 2009.

We’re starting this social venture with optimism, and although we are starting relatively small, our sights are set on systematic sector-wide impact.

Do you work on a college campus in the Bay Area?
If you do, we’d love to set up info sessions and/or workshops to advertise our opportunity.

Do you know any awesome current college juniors? We are looking for current college students who represent diverse backgrounds and are passionate about a career in the nonprofit sector. Please pass on this email to your contacts.


As a small start-up social venture, we’re always looking for donations of expertise (PR,  finance, design, leadership), funding, and time (interested in volunteering or maybe being a mentor?). Let’s make this a community effort!

Check out the info sheet and application attached to this email or download them at Applications are due on Dec 1, 2008!

Friends, we are on a mission, and you can read more about it at Join our social change movement to empower next generation’s changemakers!

Thank you in advance for your support!

Rey Faustino
Level 5 Project   |   Empowering Next Generation’s Changemakers
415 704 4880   |   |

Download the info sheet here.

Download the application here.