Gives deserving scholars a helping hand in life, raising more P40 million to help even more this year
It was a heartening sight, joining and seeing the scholarship awarding ceremony of U-Go and the Ayala Foundation at the Ayala Triangle Tower 2. Held in the last throes of the year 2022, the event gave scholarships to 20 young women, and with it, hope and a helping push towards a better future.
The excitement of the girls were palpable before the awarding ceremony. Some were giddy, a few had nervous smiles (you can see and feel it, despite some wearing face masks), but all were determined in claiming their places at the ceremony.
There's 21-year old Apple Sangre who came to Makati all the way from Dasmariñas, Cavite. She is a third-year BS Development Management student in Cavite State University. Sangre worked as a cashier at an electronics store to save money for her expenses at school.
Laide Del Rosario, 19, who has been living independently in her home province of Surigao del Norte for a few years. But independence, for a very young woman who has always dreamed of earning a college degree, can be challenging. To afford both her tuition and her living expenses, she works as an assistant at a beauty salon. Today, she is a first-year BS Secondary Education student at Mindanao State University.
A helping hand
Sangre and del Rosario are just two examples of the 20 admirable young women who were awarded scholarships in that event. They are also the inaugural batch of U-Go scholars in the Philippines.
The U-Go scholarship grant provides financial assistance for high-achieving, motivated Filipino women currently enrolled at state colleges and universities.
The aim of the grant is to help keep the scholars in school, finish their degrees, and increase their participation in the labor market, as well as to open opportunities for improved income and professional fulfillment.
Ayala Foundation, the social development arm of the Ayala group of companies, administers the scholarship and manages its implementation here in the Islands.
Present at the event were John Wood, U-Go founder and CEO; Mariana Zobel de Ayala, member of the U-Go Global Board of Directors and BPI Senior Vice President for Consumer Bank Marketing; and Joanna Duarte, Senior Director for Social Development of Ayala Foundation, representing foundation President Ruel Maranan.
John Wood, in an interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, shares the impetus of the partnership of U-Go and the Ayala Foundation. "We know from history that societies reach new levels of economic growth, and gender equality, when young women are able to pursue university degrees and then meaningful careers. That is why we are doing this," he shared. "We will start with at least 100 U-Go scholars and hope to quickly increase that to 1,000 over the coming years here in the Philippines."
"In just one month, we received 3,300 applications from young women across the country—from Davao, Agusan del Sur, Zamboanga, Coron, to Cavite and Baliuag," added Mariana Zobel de Ayala. "We are humbled by the incredible drive in each of them, and their sincere desire to make a difference, both in their own lives as well as in that of those in the communities around them."
According to U-Go, by focusing on women, the grant has the potential to contribute to narrowing the gender gap in the local labor market.
Indeed, as of 2019, female labor participation in the country is only about 49 percent, compared with 76 percent of men. The World Bank estimates that increasing women’s labor supply by 0.5 percentage points per year would increase GDP per capita by almost 10 percent by 2050.
Happily, the Ayala Foundation reports that as of Jan. 2023, the program has raised P40,560,882.90 for U-Go scholarship here in the Philippines. This would mean that U-Go can now award more help to even more deserving young women in the Philippines.
All U-Go scholars will receive an amount that covers their school and living expenses, allowing them to devote themselves fully to their academic work. The scholarship renews every year until they graduate, so long as they remain in good academic standing. An initial batch of 100 scholars will be welcomed into the program in the coming months, with a medium-term goal of awarding 1,000 U-Go scholars across the nation.
The Philippines is the seventh country in which U-Go will operate. The California-based nonprofit launched by Room to Read founder John Wood is also present in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Vietnam.