Reshaping grantmaking practice by EMpowering youths


Today’s complex issues require not only strategic and collaborative philanthropy, but also a strong, supportive ecosystem to unlock its full potential.

In September 2023, APC hosted a sharing session with EMpower, an organisation dedicated to enabling youths, particularly girls, to exercise agency and have a greater say in decisions that shape their lives. This gathering brought together APC members from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam to learn more about what they do.

Over the past two decades, EMpower has forged partnerships with 125 organisations across 15 emerging markets to centre youth protagonism—that is, putting youth at the fore—in philanthropic grantmaking through programmes such as the Girls Advisory Council, where adolescent girls advise on EMpower’s grantmaking strategy, and girl-led research. EMpower’s innovative approach to grantmaking involves placing girls firmly in the driver’s seat of their own lives towards reshaping philanthropic practices.

Key takeaways from this session also include:

  • Through a three-pronged approach of long-term partnerships, building community and knowledge, and letting go of power, EMpower was able to successfully equip girls with skills that resonate throughout their lives.

  • In order to keep youths involved and engaged, securing parental support is a crucial factor influencing participation, as well as maintaining flexibility and an open programme.

  • EMpower also emphasized the importance of providing a safe environment for youths and the skills to gauge their own progress—and developed a toolkit to assist youths in establishing their own benchmarks and milestones.

EMpower is seeking partners in Southeast Asia for a new coalition, catalysed by the Ford Foundation, called Empower Her Voice Fund, aimed at promoting girls’ decision-making and leadership. Interested parties may get in touch with EMpower directly.