Global Reach: Grantee Partners

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Zone One Tondo (ZOTO)


Urban poor youth in Manila face multiple challenges such as eviction and displacement, unemployment and a lack of understanding and resources to ensure access to basic rights. ZOTO works with the poorest of the poor in Metro Manila. Since Rodrigo Duterte came into power in May 2016, the situation of the Philippines and the urban poor youth is even worse than during the martial law years of Marcos, human rights activists say. The Filipino people are reeling under the burden of the killings in the war on drugs (initiated by President Duterte), now numbering more than 20,000 deaths (according to official statistics). While human rights advocates publicly denounced that the killings are above all against the poor, their situation has also worsened with a new taxation policy: the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN). Government economists deny that the TRAIN law is causing inflation, yet inflation continued to accelerate through June 2018, reaching a high of 5.2%. Faster annual price increases were seen in e.g. housing, water, electricity, and gas, (4.6%), in furnishing and household equipment (3%), in transport (7.1%), communication (0.4%) and education (4.0%). The impact and burden of the TRAIN law are disproportionately heavier on the self-employed/ unemployed poor and very poor who do not pay income taxes but indirect taxes through the value-added taxes. Young people aged 15-24 are hardest hit by unemployment: they comprised 43.9% of the total number of unemployed in October 2017 (Philippine Statistics Authority). Junior High School students who could not proceed to Senior High School because of lack of financial resources made up the majority of the unemployed in 2017.


Zone One Tondo Organisation (ZOTO) also known as Samahan ng Mamamayan-ZOTO is a federation of urban poor community groups based in relocation sites and areas for demolition. Established in 1970, ZOTO is the oldest urban poor organization in the Philippines. Its goals include: 1) organize and strengthen the citizenry in 28 urban poor communities; 2) raise awareness on gender equality; 3) continue education and training of leaders and members of the community and the organization, and 4) improve the economic condition of its members and ultimately all citizens. Its programs include Children and Young People’s Programs; Disaster Risk Reduction Program; Gender Equality Program; Primary Health and Reproductive Health Program; Sustainability; and Training and Organisation Programs.

Current Grant:

This sunset grant to ZOTO will equip 80 at-risk young people aged 15 to 24 in 4 batches with important job readiness and computer skills. They will be linked to employment or vocational training or reintegrated back to school. The sunset grant will deepen the learning after the pilot of the Livelihoods Coaching/Job readiness Program and integrate e.g. a new module on financial literacy into the general curriculum or deepen the teaching of English language skills

ZOTO from EMpower on Vimeo.

You can support our work with Zone One Tondo (ZOTO) and our other grantee partners.

Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.