Annual Founders Letter

2017 was a busy and exciting first year for Project Phil with results that exceeded our wildest expectations. We spent much of the year planning, completing paperwork and building a team of caring volunteers. Project Phil officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in September and we celebrated with a kickoff fundraiser in NYC in December.

The event was a galvanizing force for our first Giving Season. Between ticket sales and public contributions, Project Phil raised $21,806.25 over the last four months of 2017 with 100% of donations going directly to our charitable programs. 

Thanks to the support of over 100 donors, we have been able to accelerate the growth of our scholarship program and health and hunger initiatives. Project Phil awarded full private school scholarships to 40 deserving students covering tuition, books and learning resources for the 2018-19 school year. We are also providing monthly support for 20 families living in extreme poverty in Manila.

In 2018, we are focused on evolving and growing our charitable programs to provide more comprehensive, need-specific support. For our scholarship students, we are exploring partnerships with top universities in Manila to offer free college education to graduates with high marks that pass their university entrance exams. For our families, we are making a larger commitment to their community by identifying social and economic initiatives that can deliver greater stability and opportunity.

None of this would be possible without your generous donations of money and supplies. Thanks again for supporting Project Phil and our charitable mission in the Philippines.


Cathy Valeros & Ben Pousty
Co-Founders, Project Phil

Above: Project Phil Co-Founders Cathy Valeros and Ben Pousty with 2017-18 Mater Dei Academy scholarship recipients, President Maribel Gaite, Founder Benita Blanco and Principal Maria Christina (Kitchie) Somo.

Delivering Educational Opportunity






$360 gives a deserving student a scholarship to Mater Dei Academy (MDA). The scholarship covers tuition, books and learning supplies for one full school year. Project Phil works with our MDA partners to identify underprivileged public school students entering middle school or high school with strong grades and exam scores. The MDA team then visits with their families and requires the student to pass a STEM-focused admission test before extending a scholarship offer. This rigorous process ensures that scholarships are being awarded to the hardest-working, most deserving students.

Project Phil pledges to support all scholarship students through high school graduation. In return, our students’ pledge to maintain a GPA above 85 percent and be model citizens on and off campus.

Maribel Gaite

Maribel Gaite

President, Mater Dei Academy

Maribel Gaite is our partner on-the-ground at Mater Dei Academy for Project Phil's scholarship program. She personally oversees student recruitment and the awarding of scholarships. Maribel holds a doctorate in Educational Research and Evaluation and has extensive experience leading school turnaround projects. When she took over as President of MDA in 2009, the school had around 200 students and only offered grades K-10. Today, the school has over 850 students, provides a K-12 education and is the only private school in Bulacan province to offer Special Science Class, an advanced science and math curriculum.

2018 Goals

Award 50 Scholarships for 2019-20 School Year

We are raising our 2018 fundraising goal to $18,000 in an effort to add 10 new students to our scholarship program for the 2019-20 school year.

Explore University Scholarship Opportunities for MDA Graduates

Project Phil is in discussions with top universities in Manila to provide MDA graduates with financial hardship the opportunity to get a quality college education. Our goal is to have a university partner that offers partial and full scholarships to deserving MDA graduates by the 2020-21 school year.

Continue Book Drive

We are keeping our book drive going in 2018! If you have novels, textbooks and workbooks that are no longer being used, please consider donating them. Books that MDA doesn’t use will be distributed to underserved public schools in Bulacan province.

Elevating Underserved Communities






Over 25 million Filipinos live in poverty, making less than $10 a day. The slums of Manila alone are home to over four million Filipinos surviving without access to adequate food, clean drinking water, medical care and stable housing. Project Phil recently launched health and hunger initiatives in an underserved community in the Pasay City section of Manila to support families living in extreme poverty.  

In February, Project Phil hosted its first social event for over 60 children in the community. Spaghetti, chicken and hamburgers were served and a “birthday for all” celebration was held, complete with gifts, ice cream and popsicles! The event gave us an opportunity to build a closer relationship with the community and complete home visits with 20 high-need families, distributing food, health and hygiene supplies. These assessments allowed us to identify the families’ specific needs and how we can best support them going forward.

Project Phil has made a commitment to this community and is working on a long-term roadmap to bring stability, opportunity and hope to the people that reside there.


These faces say it all, the inaugural Project Phil Community Lunch was a success!

Vicky Sureta

Vicky Sureta


Vicky was born and raised in Baguio City, Philippines and immigrated to the United States in 1992. She works as a pediatric nurse anesthetist at the Children's hospital of Michigan in Detroit and has been a regular participant in surgical missions that provide care to underprivileged families and children in the Philippines for over 15 years.

In 2015, Vicky started a feeding program in an impoverished community in the Pasay City section of Manila. At Project Phil, she will continue her work in this community and oversee new initiatives that support families living in extreme poverty and bring opportunity to underserved communities.

2018 Goals

Support Highest-Need Families

Our top priority in 2018 is providing families and children in the most dire situations with monthly food, hygiene and healthcare supplies. Our team will visit the families regularly to build stronger relationships and better understand their needs.

Test New Community Building Initiatives

We want to work with local leaders to help build a sustainable social and economic infrastructure that can lift the community out of poverty. Three Initiatives our team is researching (beyond feeding and healthcare assistance) are micro-loans for running or starting a business, tutoring and educational support for children and a community athletics programs.


Project Phil educates, feeds and cares for underprivileged students and families in the Philippines.

Our charitable programs award private school scholarships to high-achieving public school students and support families living in extreme poverty in Manila. Through our charitable work, we strive to break the generational cycle of poverty that has plagued the Philippines by delivering educational opportunity and elevating underserved communities.

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