Meet the Inspiring Innovators of SIC 2020!

The Social Innovation Challenge 2020 (SIC) made its much-awaited return last Saturday (5 September 2020) featuring seven innovators with new and exciting social ideas!

Answering the iVolunteer challenge this year are:

  1. Celine Delos Reyes of Kwentuhan Series
  2. Mark Napao and Hannah Bielza of SOLAR Hope
  3. Boost Gio of AGAPE – Selfless, Unconditional Love Inc.
  4. Debbie Bartolo of Likha Initiative
  5. Kurt Silvano of i-Bayanihan/Next Gen IT
  6. Moncini Hinay of Kids Who Farm

With respect to COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, iVolunteer Philippines has elected to hold this year’s entire SIC program online. Which in turn, led us to an interesting set of participants that came from all over the country, including Zamboanga and Laguna; proving once more that Filipinos are always ready to serve the country when called upon.

Get to know more about our SIC 2020 participants below:

Celine Delos Reyes of Kwentuhan Series

Kwentuhan Series aims to make stories and books accessible to children through a micro mobile library, in order to engage students via leisurely reading and help them develop social literacy by providing booklets related to current events such as the pandemic.

Its founder, Celine Delos Reyes is a private school teacher and a literacy advocate who was inspired by The Storytelling Project, one of our key partners in promoting volunteerism across the country. As such, it’s no wonder that Celine’s Kwentuhan Series is fueled by a familiar passion to inspire kids through reading and education.

“Kwentuhan sa Wawa” (playground) as it’s known in the local community in Paete started as a small grassroots program in 2017. It has since grown to provide alternative learning methods like virtual storytelling and now welcomes or visits students from neighboring communities in their regular sessions, which used to happen daily before community quarantines were imposed due to COVID-19.

Celine recalls seeing kids in the play park struggle to find their place in what is essentially an open space for them to channel their youth and creativity. Seeing kids hesitantly go home because of the limited swings or slides available for them eventually sparked one of our featured SIC initiatives this year.

“So, naisip ko po [na] bakit hindi ko dalhin yung storytelling?” the founder shared during our virtual kickoff. “Kaya po kami nagstart ng Kwentuhan sa Wawa.” With her social innovation, Celine wishes to change the Filipino youth’s perception on reading and learning and help them discover a passion for both.

Mark Napao and Hannah Bielza of SOLAR Hope

SOLAR Hope aims to provide solar and sustainable solutions to marginalized communities in the Philippines. It challenges individuals and organizations to join the advocacy and become beacons of hope themselves. To-date, SOLAR Hope has adopted 3 beneficiary communities and has conducted 26 outreach programs, 24 side-events and 200+ “Beacons of Hope.”

The program began in 2017 in its adopted Bajao community in Batangas and has since expanded its operation with the Dumagats in Tanay and Mangyans in Occidental Mindoro.

“We don’t just do one-time outreach. Kumbaga, we really go back and forth to the community; trying to help them in the challenges that they have and [in] connecting other partners,” Mark Napao, SOLAR Hope’s founder, explained during his presentation.

He also shared how 2020 forced them to postpone some of their upcoming projects and carefully reassess existing ones, as they try to make their initiatives more sustainable for the future generation. They welcome the challenges; he adds and are now looking to establish a new approach to make it possible. Instead of simply assuming they have all the solutions, Mark and his team would like to focus more on the solutions that are available to those communities, and help its people harness these resources so that they can eventually flourish on their own.

Aside from providing solar-powered technology, SOLAR Hope is also looking to help their adopted communities explore livelihood programs and build a stronger local cooperative who will manage their initiatives even without them in the future.

Boost Gio of AGAPE

AGAPE is a non-government organization whose goal is to bless people through facilitating life skills programs. The team aims to deliver hope not just to the receiver but also the giver through their charity events and outreach. In SIC 2020, the organization is represented by Angelo “Boost Gio” Bañaga, one of its founding member and marketing head.

Boost shared how their group started with simple bonding activities before they thought of increasing their outreach programs when they realized that many of their members was eager to join such activities. During the quarantine, the group organized a variety of online activities and offered support to our frontliners by providing them with food packs with the help of corporate partners.

Before the pandemic, AGAPE outreach events were mostly held in shelters that look after children, mainly with Kuya Center and the like. In joining the SIC, Boost and AGAPE is looking for more partnerships opportunities that would increase their capacity and reach. AGAPE looks to stay active in this challenging period by conducting regular webinars and introducing new fundraising activities that will empower their campaigns now and in the future.

Debbie Bartolo of Likha Initiative

Likha Initiative has been committed on creating community-based initiatives that is related to waste management, children and youth development and citizens participation. In response to pandemic, the organization launched urban gardening through training community leaders to be trainers themselves to neighboring household.

The team also pioneered “Palit Bigas” in urban poor communities in Alabang to augment basic needs and support COVID-hit families through provision of education, livelihood, nutrition and/or psychological assistance.

Muntinlupa native and Likha Initiative founder Debbie Bartolo acknowledges that there are still a lot of work to be done within their community. As such, Likha’s thrust had been mostly about encouraging the people who would benefit the most in their projects to lead the initiatives themselves. In addition, Likha enlists the support of local officials so that the citizens can use the platform to voice out their feedback and collaborate with state officials effectively.

As a volunteer-based organization, Likha understands the definitive value of volunteerism in the success of their programs. Thus, they have their eye out looking for sponsors or volunteers who can help in fundraising and communications (interview and writing of stories), creating nutritional plans for families and beneficiaries, providing psychological support for children and adults, and a helping hand in enterprise development.

Kurt Silvano of i-Bayanihan/Next Gen IT

The team of IT experts behind the i-Bayanihan concept shares a vision to empower Filipinos to innovate through technology to create a future-ready Philippines.

Owing to their social development experience with Next Gen IT and Campaign F1 for Juan, Kurt Silvano shared how they see volunteers at the heart of their initiative as they expect them to play key roles in stabilizing or improving their organization’s communications, internal and external affairs, and technological innovations.

As they look ahead, the team also aims to have its own volunteer membership and engagement committee that will facilitate onboarding and create more volunteer opportunities that will increase their capacity to drive change through technology.

During the pandemic, Kurt and his team got back into the fold by launching F1 Juan Speaks (monthly webinar) where they share their technological expertise to educators, parents, and students. After getting the band back together and now joining SIC, Kurt says they are now looking towards a new project called i-Bayanihan: The Filipino “Reddit” Tech Support Forum that will provide technical expertise and support to teachers and parents in as they navigate new technology and blended learning methods.

To succeed, the team plans to enlist the help of volunteer IT experts, professionals, and students as well as content providers and online platforms that will host and help them manage the exchange of information.

Moncini Hinay of Kids Who Farm

One of the long-term objectives of Kids Who Farm is to reverse the persistent trend of aging Filipino farmers by building the expertise of the youth in agriculture. According to its founder, Moncini Hinay, they also plan to create more urban green jobs incubation opportunities to engage the next generation in the business of farming to secure food for the future.

One of KWF’s key programs, in fact, is the Youth Food Garden (YFG) where they collaborate with their community’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) to transfer knowledge on sustainable vegetable production, agroenterprise, and financial literacy to the youth in a modular and experiential learning activities.

Using his extensive background in social development, Moncini founded KWF with his 10-year old daughter, making them the most adorable tandem in the 2-year history of iVolunteer’s SIC. Joining them are local volunteers who share their unbridled passion to reignite the agriculture sector by encouraging the youth to see farming in a different light and as a viable career path. One of their recent initiatives is the School Microfarm Project which aims to transfer sustainable urban agriculture production technology and marketing strategies to students, while providing access to healthy and nutritious food, as well as income-generating alternatives for the youth.

The challenge is ON

The SIC 2020 will run from September to October and like its initial run will see some of the most inspiring speakers and innovators within the iVolunteer community share their invaluable stories and learnings with our new breed of social innovators. These sessions, of course, are geared to empower our participants as they prepare for the next step in their social development journey.

At the end of the program, each of them will also get a chance to pitch their ideas and endear themselves further with our corporate partners, while one standout social innovation will be chosen as the Social Innovation Challenge 2020 overall winner!

Stay tuned!

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