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A (Beginner) Facilitator's Guide to Systems Thinking

We have created this beginner's guide in both English and Tagalog for communities, networks, and organizations who want to introduce systems-thinking to their members or teammates for the first time.  We put together resources that we think will be helpful for young leaders who are starting their social impact journeys and local groups who are already running social change initiatives. 

While this was specifically designed for a Filipino audience, we believe it can be relevant throughout the region.

How we created this guide: We compiled the content for this facilitator’s guide by reviewing the extensive range of materials already out there on systems thinking and sharing with you some of the resources that may be helpful for the Philippine context.  We also collaborated with and interviewed local systemic leaders in the Philippines. 

We would like to acknowledge the limits of our methodology.  This guide is not meant to be an academic research piece as we are not academics or systems experts, just community-builders who have seen first-hand the benefits of systems thinking. 


This guide is meant to be a basic introduction for those who are exploring systems thinking for the first time and want to apply it towards solving social problems. 


Let’s collaborate! We hope to continue evolving and growing this guide.  If you use this or any of its pieces with your communities, we would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions on how to make it better.  If you have come across materials that you think would be good to include in the guide, please do share.  You can reach out to us at

Philippines Youth Resources Map

Alongside our work of supporting long-term positive change in communities, Firetree Philanthropy has had a longstanding interest in how we can best support the young people within these communities to lead change.  We recently conducted a simple mapping exercise to explore the following question: “If a young person in the Philippines wants to help solve problems in their community, what kind of support do they have access to?”  We share some insights and details of our exploration here


As part of the mapping exercise, we came across many resources and initiatives that may be helpful for young change leaders in the Philippines.  We are sharing this list below. It is by no means a complete or comprehensive listing. But we hope that it could be a helpful starting point or spark more extensive mapping since many of the young leaders and youth-focused organizations that we spoke to highlighted the need for an easier way for them to find relevant resources.

A few things to note:

  • We were specifically interested in the available resources for young people as problem-solvers or change leaders (as opposed to young people as “beneficiaries”). 

  • This list is a result of a short-term and limited mapping exercise that we did so it is definitely not an exhaustive listing of all the youth-focused resources in the Philippines.  It is based on desk research and recommendations from different stakeholders.  We have not vetted or worked directly with many of the entries here so if you’re interested to learn more, we suggest that you contact these programs or initiatives directly.

  • We would love to hear from you if you have recommendations for resources to add to the list or if you know of other existing databases.  You can use the form below the list.  We would also love to collaborate and explore how this kind of mapping could be done in a more sustainable way.

  • The listings in the table below are based on publicly available information (e.g. websites, social media pages) that we came across and we categorized the resources as best as we could based on this information.  But if your resource or initiative is mentioned here and you would like to update or remove any of the information, please also use the form below.

  • If you are viewing this through your mobile phone, you will be able to scroll through the list and click on specific initiatives to learn more.  You’ll need to use a desktop or laptop if you want more options in terms of searching and filtering through the table below. 


Thank you!


Resources For Funders

For funders interested in learning more about trust-based funding approaches, the trust-based philanthropy project has some excellent resources.

We also find this blog from John Rendel at Peter Cundill Foundation a useful and insightful read on unrestricted / general operating support funding.

Over 2020, Social Innovation Exchange (SIX) brought together a number of funders from across the world as a global scan to better understand global philanthropic responses to Covid-19. 


They were interested in the how more than the what. On this website here, you can find stories, insights and the provocations that they collected. It's a rich resource and well worth exploring. They also curated some insights in the PDF below. Many thanks to SIX for their ongoing work in this space. 


Additionally, the PDF below is a report entitled "Snapshot: Covid-19 grantmaking going forward in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong" that was compiled using research conducted by Just Cause and commissioned by Firetree in order to reflect on different Covid-19 philanthropic responses and look forward to 2021. 

Snapshot Image.PNG

Resources For Educators

As part of its professional development services, Starfish Education has been working on a whole school transformation project with over 90 schools in Thailand since 2018. This project applies Apple Inc's concept about elements of success to school administrators, so that they can manage leaning environments and lead schools to be innovative organizations. This "whole school" approach requires transformation via nine elements in three aspects: school management, teaching and learning. 

The publication found below, titled "School Transformation: 9 Elements of the Whole School Approach", is an English adaptation of the guidelines for this concept, and also includes insights from school directors and teachers who played roles in schools that have successfully changed their school system to improve learning outcomes in line with 21st century skills.

school transform cover.PNG

The next resource, titled "The STEAM Design Process - 21st Century Skills Development", is an English adaptation of a publication produced by Starfish Education that lays out the details of what 21st century skills for learners and teachers are, how the STEAM Design Process works as a learning management process, and lessons learned from teachers and administrators who have put this into practice throughout Thailand.  

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