Stories Of Impact
10th Anniversary Edition – S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: How recipients turned their lives around with the gift of education
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

10th Anniversary Edition – S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: How recipients turned their lives around with the gift of education

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2021 marks a monumental turn of a chapter for the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF). The fund that was set up by the late former president S R Nathan enters its 10th year of fruition and continues to fulfill its purpose of providing students financial ease to allow them to flourish in their studies. 

To celebrate this anniversary, students Arshad Supa’at and Danish Said shared how their lives changed for the better through the gift of education. 

Arshad, 33 years old, is currently an undergraduate at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, majoring in Social Work. He was originally studying in Millenia Institute (MI) but dropped out of school in his first year to find a job to support his family’s finances. At that time, his father, Supa’at Sarajoo, suffered from kidney failure, which resulted in him no longer being able to work. 

After completing his national service and GCE ‘O’ level examination, Arshad enrolled in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and started work as part-time as a food deliveryman to help with expenses. Unfortunately, he was involved in a road accident and had to quit his job. With only his mother holding a part-time job to support the family, he could not turn to his family to support his education and living expenses.

His turning point came when he received assistance from the SRNEUF. The monthly allowance it provided allowed Arshad to supplement his school and daily expenses, allowing him to continue his studies whilst he recovered from the accident. He eventually went on to graduate from ITE, receiving the Tay Eng Soon Award and the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship for Encouraging Improvement (LKY-STEP) in 2013. The SRNEUF has changed his life, allowing him to complete his education in ITE when he most needed help.

Arshad shared, “I strongly believe and am confident that education can make us equal on a social level. Regardless of your background or your social or family background, if you do your best, education can open doors for you.”

Danish is another student who has managed to turn his life around due to the aid provided by the SRNEUF.

Danish, 25 years old, had always wanted to do something related to finance, as it is an issue close to his heart. Danish enrolled in ITE at a later age compared to most of his peers as he had previously dropped out from his studies at the Republic Polytechnic when he was younger. He recounted how he had never fully focused on his education then and felt that he had unfinished business with his educational journey. Thus, he wished to prove to himself that he could do it as long as he had the right mindset. 

As the youngest in the family, he feels lucky to have been offered the SRNEUF which provides him with a monthly allowance. This allowed him to focus more on his schoolwork instead of worrying about having his parents bearing his expenses. In fact, he has taken this chance to work part-time as a food deliveryman to cover his own expenses, as well as to help his parents in managing their finances.  Danish aspires to work on his skills needed to be a financial advisor, fund manager or financial analyst, to be able to provide quality advice to help those in difficulty to manager their financial decisions. 

“My interest in finance started when I was little because my family always had to struggle just to meet our daily needs. It made me interested because I wanted to know how I could manage my finances better,” said Danish.

Throughout the years, the SRNEUF has worked with ITE to provide assistance to underprivileged students who require financial help. Since 2012, the SRNEUF has supported needy students in ITE, with a total of 1,848 bursaries disbursed over the years with a cumulative grant total of $2.47 million.

“President Nathan’s life epitomises the spirit of generosity, caring and giving. He was a tireless giver. Known to come from humble beginnings himself, he was always known to have a heart for the less privileged in society. In 2011, Mr Nathan established the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) to provide financial support to students for their education,” said Mr Bobby Chin, the Chairman of the Grant Advisory Committee of the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund.

He firmly believed that education was an important social leveller which provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their families,” he continued.

To transform lives with your giving, get in touch with us at or read more about it here.

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Charitable funds boost donations in a tough year for giving

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"Explore The Straits Times charity news page, highlighting philanthropic efforts and inspiring stories."

SINGAPORE – More wealthy people are setting up charitable funds that give at least six-figure sums to their chosen causes.

There were 143 donor-advised funds set up with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), disbursing $20.2 million to charitable causes in the non-profit organisation’s financial year that ended in March.

This is double the 70 funds giving out $11.7 million in the financial year that ended in March 2015.

Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a donor-advised fund with the CFS, which manages the money, advises donors on the various needs in the community and disburses it according to the donor’s wishes.

Its chief executive officer, Ms Catherine Loh, told The Straits Times there is a greater awareness of the CFS’ work and preference to give through donor-advised funds, which allows donors to give in a more informed, structured and sustained manner over time. And donors get to name their fund.

For example, the donated sum can be held at the foundation in perpetuity and invested, with invested returns going to the charitable causes over time.

Ms Loh said more people are also setting up legacy funds, like those in memory of a late loved one, adding to the rise in donor-advised funds. Or donors may set up a fund to be disbursed after their deaths.

So far, the largest sum donated to start a fund has been $24 million, set up by a family in their late father’s name, Ms Loh said without giving more details.

She noted that such funds have been especially needed during the current Covid-19 pandemic, where more people are in need and many charities say donations are falling.

Since February, the CFS’ donor-advised funds have given out about $1.2 million for purposes related to Covid-19, such as topping up phone cards for migrant workers and buying masks for charities caring for seniors.

Many donor-advised funds, however, are set up to give to specific causes that donors and their families care about.

Mr Lien Ber Luen gave $200,000 in 2018 to set up the Lien Shih Sheng Foundation, which gives to educational causes among others, in memory of his late grandfather, the editor-in-chief of Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau. Mr Lien Shih Sheng was a literary pioneer here, involved in many arts, education and cultural activities, his grandson said.

The Lien Shih Sheng Foundation has funded scholarships at Raffles Institution for children from low-income families and it will also support a new programme to give financial aid to children from underprivileged families to attend preschool regularly.

Mr Lien, who is in his 40s, works in a local asset management firm and is married with two children, said: “He was a doting grandfather and a role model for me. I set up this fund to remember him and to continue his legacy of contributing to the community.”

Like Mr Lien, over half of the funds at the CFS were set up by donors aged between 40 and 60, ranging from working professionals to those with inherited wealth, Ms Loh said.

While supporting education and helping the sick and the poor are evergreen favourites, causes relating to environmental and sustainability issues are also becoming more popular. Donors are also more savvy.

She said: “We have seen donors asking more questions and moving away from just chequebook philanthropy over the years.”

Instead, they are keen to understand the root causes of social problems and to find ways to tackle them, instead of simply handing over their money.

Besides the CFS, the SymAsia Foundation, which is established by private bank Credit Suisse for its clients, also offers donor-advised funds.

The SymAsia Foundation did not reveal the number of such funds, but said its clients “typically make a commitment of $1 million for donations”.

Ms Young Jin Yee, CEO of SymAsia Foundation, added: “I would say no other cause has brought our donors together like the current Covid-19 pandemic.”

She said about a third of its donors from across the Asia-Pacific region have stepped up to alleviate the difficulties brought about by the virus. This includes giving financial aid to students in Singapore whose families were affected by Covid-19, and supporting the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus being jointly developed by the Duke-NUS Medical School and an American pharmaceutical firm.

Source: The Straits Times

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The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at


The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road



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Beyond One-Time Giving: Creating Lasting Impact

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A poster for the Giving Week event, showcasing the spirit of generosity and community involvement.

SG Cares Giving Week (1-7 December) celebrates the spirit of giving. This is the time to share your time, talent, treasure and voice to support causes that you are passionate about, in all ways, big and small.

If you are considering making more lasting contributions that go beyond a single donation, CFS can help you transform your giving. Here are some ways in which you can make giving a sustained way of life:

  1. Get involved in philanthropy by setting up a donor-advised fund
    The philanthropic ecosystem can be a complex terrain to navigate. If you’re considering embarking on a philanthropy journey, setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF) with CFS is an excellent starting point. You could also invite several friends or family members to start a DAF together!Our philanthropy advisors will help you understand the needs of vulnerable groups and how you can make an impact in Singapore. You decide which causes to support and how much funding to provide. We handle the administrative details of grant-making, allowing you to concentrate on making the difference that truly matters to you.

    To learn more about setting up a DAF, visit How to Get Started

  2. Use your time and talent to make a difference
    If you are looking to make an impact with your skills and spare time, volunteering with a non-profit organisation is a great way to do this. At CFS, we are passionate about raising awareness about various causes through a variety of channels. Whether you’re a proficient writer, skilled photographer, or possess other creative abilities, your involvement can help us craft compelling content and engaging multimedia that drives our mission forward.

    You can find out more details here:   Content Writer , Photographer/Videographer

  3. Leave a legacy for future generationsEach of us holds the power to create a lasting legacy by designating a portion of our financial assets in our will or trust. By choosing to leave a legacy gift with CFS, you pave the way for future generations to carry forward your values and aspirations for the community beyond your lifetime. It is a way to ensure that your impact on causes you care about resonates long into the future.

    You can also establish a donor-advised fund in the name of a loved one. A memorial fund is a wonderful way to honour their legacy and continue their work.

    It is never too early to plan your legacy gift. To learn more about legacy giving, visit

    SG Cares Giving Week is a key initiative of the national SG Cares movement held annually from 1 to 7 December, that celebrates the spirit of giving and seeks to make giving part of our way of life. It is organised by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) in collaboration with SG Cares Office and National Council of Social Service (NCSS). Support the movement at
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Stories Of Impact

KidsExcel – Leaving no child behind

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a group of children in a classroom

At a time when after school tuition and enrichment programmes have become the new norm, children from less affluent backgrounds are increasingly disadvantaged by their inability to afford these lessons. This creates an educational landscape that places each child at different starting points by virtue of their socio-economic backgrounds.

KidsExcel is a values-driven, academic and sports enrichment programme that aims to support schools and parents in providing a holistic education for kids. Its mission is to provide a holistic, well-rounded programme that develops healthy minds, healthy bodies and strong character, using sports and academic enrichment to nurture the physical, intellectual and social skills of children.

“KidsExcel seeks to address the prevailing asymmetry in educational opportunities for underprivileged children. The programme aims to develop these children holistically through a structured integration of sports and drama with academic enrichment,” said Victor Pok, Director of Vivakids which runs the programme.

By providing primary school students under the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s Financial Assistance Scheme access to a year-long enrichment programme, KidsExcel hopes to inculcate in students an intrinsic motivation to excel, which will hopefully follow them through their lives.

At a recent site visit to Fuhua Primary School – one of KidsExcel’s school partners – the Community Foundation Singapore (CFS) and its donors bore witness to the work they do. Each week, students spend three hours on academic enrichment and an additional three hours on sports as an added incentive for them to turn up for classes.

At the after school programme, students learn through interactive and engaging lessons that provide effective development opportunities. Math classes saw students engaging in friendly competition to solve problem sums flashed out by their teacher. Speech and drama lessons visibly instilled in them a sense of confidence. Frequent proficiency testing also helped facilitate differentiated lesson plans to suit the varied capabilities of students.

While the sports component was conceived to encourage students’ attendance, it plays a pivotal role in developing them holistically. A range of carefully designed and modified games provides opportunities for the students to learn values – such as teamwork and self-confidence – that are beneficial for their intrinsic development.

And the overall results are encouraging. The programme at Fuhua has seen full attendance since its inception. Through timely and consistent tracking of exam results, statistics from KidsExcel’s school partnerships reflect overall improvements in students’ literacy and numeracy levels.

In a spirited sharing of the school’s experience, Fuhua’s co-ordinating teacher-in-charge praised it as an affordable programme that provides sustainable value-add to students. “I have seen an improvement in many of the students and they really enjoy the time they spend with their friends during the programme. Many of them often come to my office just to ask me if the programme is on this week, the following week, or even in the following year. It really speaks to how the programme has given them something constructive to look forward to. Otherwise they will probably be doing nothing at home or gallivanting at the malls.”

“The support of CFS and its donors has been crucial in realising our aims, providing the platform to engage even more in the future.” said Victor.

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Donor Learning Trip Series: The Art of Mental Well-Being

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This initiative is part of CFS’s Donor Learning Trips, a series of engagement opportunities that enable donors to personally connect with charities and gain insights into how they support communities in need.

On the afternoon of October 19, 2023, 17 of our donors visited the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and learned about the work they do. 

Established in 1968, SAMH has been a stalwart in Singapore’s mental health community, improving the lives of persons with mental health issues through rehabilitation and reintegration.  

SAMH Space2Connect is a newly established integrated wellness centre that provides mental health services to individuals aged 10 and above, families, and communities. The centre aims to empower clients, improving their well-being and walking with them on their road to recovery; while also serving as a collaborative hub for partners to come together and strengthen community mental health and resilience.

Confronting the realities of youth mental health

SAMH strives to destigmatise mental health amidst rising numbers of youths requiring support, encouraging them to seek help. Statistics highlight the severity of the issue, with suicide being the primary cause of death among 10 to 29-year-olds in Singapore in recent years. According to Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), out of the 476 suicides in 2022, 125 involved those in this age group. This is 13 more than in 2021 and the highest since 2000, which marks SOS’ earliest recorded data.

A substantial number of youths admit they are grappling with mental health symptoms, emphasising the pressing need for support. A recent study conducted by the National University of Singapore reported that one in 10, or 12% of adolescents met full diagnostic criteria for having at least one current mental health disorder. About one in three youth in Singapore reported internalising mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety and loneliness, with those aged 14 to 16 reporting more serious symptoms. Meanwhile, roughly one in six young people said they experienced externalising mental health symptoms, such as hyperactivity, rule-breaking and aggression.

Through the afternoon, donors heard beneficiaries tell their stories and toured the space. They learnt how their contributions have supported youths particularly through SAMH YouthReach, which offers psychosocial support and recovery programmes for youths aged 12 to 21 facing emotional, psychological, and psychiatric issues. Mental health recovery is often not linear, and SAMH provides ongoing support for clients beyond treatment completion.

“It was inspiring to learn how our giving was making a difference to the lives of the youths supported by SAMH YouthReach, and to understand more about the good work that SAMH is doing,” said a donor from the CKY Foundation, who has been giving with CFS since 2022 after being introduced by the Economic Development Board. 

“CFS has helped us work towards our philanthropic goals by making an impact across a range of causes and charities through the insights provided by our fund’s dedicated philanthropy advisor. It is heartening to witness the impact of one’s philanthropy in person, and to meet the people that you have helped.”

A place for community and self-expression

In addition to learning about SAMH’s programmes and services, donors had a chance to experience a therapeutic art activity for themselves as they joined two young adult clients of SAMH YouthReach in an interactive hands-on session. Through the fun, laughter and unleashed creativity, they discovered the potential of creative pursuits as a tool for promoting mental wellbeing.

With funding support, SAMH plans to expand their outreach further, with initiatives focusing on the impact of sleep, nutrition and movement on mental health.

We are grateful for the opportunity to meet the CFS donors, showcase SAMH facilities and programmes to them, and facilitate direct engagement with our beneficiaries. Their contributions empower us in our mission to help and support individuals in our community who face mental health challenges

CFS would like to express our deep appreciation to SAMH for the remarkable work that they do, and acknowledge our donors for their invaluable support. To find out more about how you can contribute, visit



In 2023, CFS proudly marks our 15-year milestone on a journey dedicated to empowering donors to create meaningful impact. Since its establishment in 2008, we have received over S$292 million in donations and disbursed over S$157 million in grants to support more than 400 charitable partners in Singapore. Join us in shaping a brighter future for worthy causes by becoming a valued donor. Your contribution can make a substantial difference.

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