Tondo Community Initiative

The community living in the areas of Tondo known as Smokey Mountain and Temporary Housing has always had a particular significance for Dick and Francesco. Upon the initial restructuring of the Richard P. Haugland Foundation we created the Tondo Foundation, to represent the type of community we exist to work for. In late 2018 we had the opportunity to take over a local organization, which has since been renamed Tondo Community Initiative (TCI).


Firetree currently provides executive management, financial support, governance and technical support – in partnership with Stairway Foundation. TCI is employing a growing number of professionals and youth from Tondo.


At TCI we believe that youth from the area of Tondo are resilient, ingenious and have great ambitions. Ambitions that too often are not fulfilled due to lack of opportunities.

Under the coordination of Chiara Cattaneo, TCI’s aim is to work with a wide range of partners to ensure young people from our community can access – and take full advantage – of the educational and inspirational opportunities available to their peers from other parts of Metro Manila.


We know all too well that no one organisation can achieve this alone, so TCI thrives on the contributions of all stakeholders in the community and the city at large, particularly young people themselves. 

Our aspiration is to provide a platform to organizations that share our mind-set and vision and would like to expand their services to the children and youth of Tondo. In this sense, our preferred option is to enable (through hosting, supporting and connecting to students and youth) those organizations that excel at what they do to come and work in our community, rather than building our own programs.

Our role is primarily to offer a safe and positive space – both physical and imagined – where young people from the community can meet, learn, experiment, share and innovate. We realize that be effective in our role of connectors and facilitators we need to create a team able to work with education partners on one side and children, youth, schools from our community on the other.

TCI is a young organization, in terms of vision and programs; an organization built on the desire to fill gaps that exist in the services available to the community and careful not to replicate what is already provided by public schools and other private and public institutions and organizations – on the contrary striving to complement it.

We are currently renovating our 1,500 square meters centre in Tondo, and at the same time we are building our programs and staff.

Our programs shall be built around:

  • Holistic education – with strong emphasis on human skills. Within our education program we intend to provide:

    • Supplemental learning – to primary and high school students attending public schools in the area – combining academic classes with labs and human skills-centred activities;

    • Makerspace – for primary school students – designed in cooperation with Starfish Education. We will work with public schools to offer this program to their students to complement the academic offer currently available;

    • Education for out of school youth, with the dual goals of helping those who can / want to pass the ALS exam and providing those soft skills which are even more essential for marginalized youth;

    • Creative labs for youth.


  • Child Protection – it encompasses all the psycho-social services needed to allow a child to grow up with their families safely: family support, counselling, access to healthcare and case management.


  • Youth – through the ‘Youth for Change' programme, working to build leadership, inspire and connect young people to study and job opportunities in Metro Manila and the Philippines.

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