For the second year in a row, Deloitte Philippines had the pleasure of being the major partner of the Benita & Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) in presenting the CSR Youth Awards. This recognition program is an annual, national search for outstanding young people—college students and young professionals—who practice personal CSR in three categories: citizenship, sustainability, and social responsibility.
During the judging phase, many of the nominees were able to visit the Deloitte office to be personally interviewed by the panel of judges, which included our managing partner and CEO, Greg Navarro, BCYF president, Antonio Yap, and the secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Fortunato Dela Peña.
The stories behind these young leaders’ CSR projects, and how much they have accomplished while also fulfilling academic or work responsibilities, are truly inspiring. The winner in the student category, 28-year-old Mark Conrad Ravanzo, is co-founder of I Am M.A.D. (I Am Making a Difference), a volunteer organization that sprung from what could be considered a national tragedy.
A native of Basilan, Mark, a high school freshman, was on his way to school when the Lamitan Siege happened. He admitted that the sounds of gunfire that filled the air traumatized him, but his thoughts went to the children of his hometown—how much more terrifying it must have been for them. So with the help of his cousin, Mark formed I Am M.A.D., which holds workshops for children to help shape their values, renew their sense of peace, and, most importantly, encourage them to show love for their parents.
I am M.A.D. now has over 500 volunteers and has worked with thousands of children in 26 areas across the country, empowering them, strengthening their bonds with their families, and preparing them to become future leaders.
Arcie Mallari, the winner in the young professional category, also works with kids through Silid Aralan, Inc., a non-governmental organization he founded to help public elementary and high school students who are lagging academically.
After earning his master’s degree in educational management and leadership in Canada five years ago, Arcie did what very few people, if any, would do: He came back to the Philippines and for three years lived in the impoverished town of Payatas for immersion. It was there that he met a high school student who had difficulty reading in English, and a young girl who, when asked what she would want to be when she has grown up, said her dream was to become a housekeeper so that she could live in an actual house and eat three square meals a day.
While Silid Aralan helps public school students bring their grades up, Arcie’s goal is to make these young people realize how much power they have to define their future. One of the students he tutors has just finished writing her first novel, which is now with Yale University for editing. Another student passed the University of the Philippines College Admission Test, becoming Silid Aralan’s first Iskolar ng Bayan. In fact, all of the learners who have passed through Silid Aralan are now in universities or colleges.
Besides being powerful vehicles for positive change, Mark, Arcie, and the other finalists of the CSR Youth Awards make a case for businesses to get their employees involved in social initiatives. The work that these young leaders have done through their CSR projects—planning workshops, developing curriculum, building partnerships with other organizations, mobilizing volunteers, measuring progress—has no doubt helped shape them into the articulate, motivated, and self-possessed individuals they are now.
In The purpose-driven professional, a Deloitte publication that looks into the whys and hows of institutionalizing social impact work in companies, the writers make the point that these volunteer opportunities can be the most effective educational and leadership programs for employees because of the hands-on, immersive approach. And with technology and globalization bringing the world’s social and economic inequalities into full view, more and more people—not just millennials—are looking for opportunities to pursue social impact work through their organizations.
By connecting social initiatives with talent development, companies can bring together the best of both worlds: They will be able to harness the skills and energy of their employees towards helping communities that most need that leg up, and at the same time they will be investing in the continuous learning and development of their own people. Deloitte’s researchers admit it is not an easy program to execute, but the payoff is well worth the effort.
Successful companies may be looking at a 500- or even 1000-strong team of Marks and Arcies who are committed to true service, to making sure that everyone gets the chance to advance, to have a better life. Imagine the kind of country we would have then.
Visit Deloitte Philippines’ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DeloittePhilippines/) to learn more about Mark and Arcie’s advocacies.
The author is senior corporate communications manager at Navarro Amper & Co., the local member firm of Deloitte Southeast Asia Ltd., a member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited—comprising Deloitte practices operating in Brunei, Cambodia, Guam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.