Kaya Co. 'The ability to do'

Submitted on Thu, April 30, 2015

Rexy Josh Dorado lived in the Philippines for the first 11 years of his life. Then—in a moment it would seem— he found himself in Cleveland, Ohio. Middle school can offer up some tough years for any student trying to fit in. Add on the hardship of being a newcomer to America and it is not surprising that Rexy found himself feeling isolated and culturally fragmented with trying to be ‘as American as possible’, as he puts it.

Years later, a change-making moment occurred when he returned to visit his homeland after his first year of college.

“I remember there was this moment where I was on a beach boulevard where I grew up and I heard the ocean and heard these sounds of the vendors, and I saw myself again in my food, family and culture…these things that I subconsciously pulled away from,” recalls Rexy. But all this was side by side with the sites and sounds of inequalities----that were socially constructed. “That was a big point where I saw myself as a ‘Filipino American’ coming into consciousness,” he adds.

Through engaging with different cultural student groups and taking on an internship in Brazil, Rexy witnessed the inspiring leadership of young people who were dealing with major challenges and not being afraid to dive right in.

Kaya Co. photo 1

“One night I was interviewing Filipino entrepreneurs from Manila working at an NGO. I saw a tipping point coming where people like me were getting involved in shaping the world and growing,” says Rexy.

The path of a change-maker is not often an easy one. Moments of fear and self-doubt are common. But a change-maker can transform that fear and self doubt into the fuel needed to innovate and grow. Rexy was somebody who was part of the Filipino diaspora but felt disconnected from Philippines while also feeling isolated in America. Rexy turned these challenges into fuel for his own venture. He explored opportunities with global NGOs and stepped outside his comfort zone by diving into leadership roles and testing himself. Along the way, he began to see a need for gathering like-minded Filipino diaspora to go back and reconnect with their roots while also giving back to the Philippines.

“ I had never started an organization before. I didn’t know what went into it. The first thing I did was reach out to close friends about my idea, connecting young Filipino Americans to social impact into the Philippines.” Rexy discovered that his friends had similar ideas. “This was the moment we decided we’d start to make it happen,” says Rexy. “Knowing that there was somebody who was also on a similar journey was empowering,” he adds.

Kaya Co. photo 2

Kaya, in the local language, means ‘capacity’ and ‘the ability to do’. The name clicked with Rexy and his friends while brainstorming. Those initial phone conversations evolved to what is now the Kaya Collaborative (Kaya Co.). Kaya Co. is a Youth Venture-supported project that aims to mobilize Filipino diaspora youth as partners to long-term, locally led social change in the Philippines. The Kaya Co. Fellowship matches a select group of young Filipino-American leaders with an immersive internship experience in the Philippine social sector - and launches them back to their diaspora communities afterwards to engineer this global connection at scale.  

2014 Fellows have gone back to create new fundraising initiatives, educational series, and group research projects in their diaspora communities, priming their Filipino American communities to engage with the Philippines and their identity in a new way. 

“Success for us is working with Kaya Fellows on a meaningful experience and seeing how they describe their powerful reconnection journeys after,” says Rexy.

You can support their crowdfunding campaign today!  Your contributions will fund a summer of personal rediscovery, social impact, and the beginning of a stronger global Filipino community. 


Rexy, founder of Kaya Co.

(*Rexy, pictured above)