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Apex Harmony Lodge – Empowering dementia patients to live well
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Apex Harmony Lodge – Empowering dementia patients to live well

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Is dementia an inevitable part of ageing? Can nothing can be done to change its course?

Dementia patients are oft-times negatively perceived as ‘senile’ or ‘confused’, with little measures taken to empower patients to maintain an active mind. If their symptoms are ‘generalised’, this may lead to care that negates the patient’s individualised needs.

As Singapore’s first purpose-built lodge for dementia patients, Apex Harmony Lodge (AHL) views each patient as someone who is ‘beyond their condition’, and who can be empowered to live with dignity and well-being, explains Mahathir Rahim, former Community Engagement Executive at AHL.

Informed by the latest medical research as well as Person-Centred-Care (PCC) models of dementia care, each resident at AHL receives an individualised care plan, recognising their specific stage of dementia, background and personal interests.

This approach is especially relevant for patients with mild to moderate dementia, who comprise almost 70% of AHL’s 180 residents. For around 60 patients who are still mobile, they exhibit greater psychosocial needs, including maintaining identity, autonomy and socialisation.

Forming a key part of AHL’s care plan is a curated programme of activities that not only keeps patients engaged and happy, but also helps maintain brain plasticity for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, a key finding in recent neuroscience research.

Tapping into two donor funds via the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), AHL has been able to scale its programmes to benefit more residents and sustain engagement levels in recent years. The funding has also helped AHL diversify its programmes to cater to the niche needs of its residents.

Take for instance AHL’s ‘Ignite My Life’ programme: its variety of recreational and learning activities are tailored to the abilities and interests of residents, enabling them to live well. This includes equine-assisted therapy, where residents who display an affinity for animals get to interact with rescued horses. The initiative has benefited more than 20 residents so far, who delight in bonding with the horses. For residents who enjoy cooking, a baking programme enables them to take part in monthly sessions, whipping up a spread shared with fellow residents. This helps to boost their self esteem as they learn to create something on their own and share their successes with others.

AHL has also tapped into CFS’s Outing for Seniors Community Impact Fund to expand its number of outings to local museums, Gardens by the Bay and even on Duck Tours, greatly benefiting a pool of residents who are immobile. Such outings often require significant manpower, with each resident assisted by one volunteer or staff. Getting funding support has helped AHL to manage the significant transportation and food costs incurred, thereby bringing outings to more of its residents.

AHL’s efforts to offer personalised programmes for dementia patients has been recognised by not just the residents, but also their families. “The families are very impressed by the unique programmes we provide, especially for patients who aren’t able to move on their own,” expresses Mahathir.

Bryan Lim, AHL’s current Community Engagement Executive, adds, “At the end of the day, it’s about honouring the human being and helping retain one’s dignity. Instead of telling a patient what he can or cannot do, we give them a chance to explore their capabilities.”

Photos: Apex Harmony Lodge
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Stories Of Impact

#MyGivingJourney X Corinna Lim: From legal advocate to leading gender equality advocate 

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The #MyGivingJourney is a series by CFS where stories of remarkable women in the philanthropy sector are being told. In this story, we feature Corrina Lim, Executive Director at AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research). 

Serendipity played a big part in Corinna Lim becoming Singapore’s leading advocate for gender equality. She was working as a lawyer when a colleague who was pregnant asked if she would like to take her place providing free legal advice in a community centre. It was the early 1990s and opportunities for pro bono work were very limited.  

Every month, Corinna listened to the problems of women who were dealing with family violence, unfaithful husbands, husbands who did not support the family or ex-spouses who reneged on maintenance commitments. “It gave me so much satisfaction to be able to help these women. I was dispensing fairly basic legal advice but they felt heard and were extremely grateful for my pragmatic approach,” she says.  

The work was so fulfilling that she joined AWARE, the Association of Women for Action and Research, when they opened their legal clinic in 1992. Twice a month, after a long day’s work, she would offer advice, hope and empathy to women about their legal rights and options. “But rather than feeling depleted after these sessions, I always felt energised,” she says. 

AWARE’s work struck a chord with Corinna because they tackled issues at the individual level as well as at the systemic level too, chipping away at barriers to gender equality. In 2010, almost 20 years after first signing on as a volunteer at AWARE, she left her corporate law career to become the first executive director of Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group. 

As she sees it, AWARE has made an immense impact by pioneering, in 2011, sexual assault support for survivors and creating awareness of the challenges faced by survivors here. AWARE has also helped change laws which have resulted in more effective protection from harassment and more equal benefits for single parents. Its advocacy work has also contributed to the repeal of marital rape immunity and decriminalisation of attempted suicide. 

AWARE also works closely with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which has long supported groups that help single mothers and marginalised women. Over the years, CFS has regularly facilitated grants from its donors to AWARE, including the recent grant call from Sayang Sayang Fund. Aside from this, CFS also collaborates with AWARE on research, most notably on a nationwide study on minimum household incomes.   

Although she studied for a career in law, Corinna knew from a very young age that she wanted to give back to society. Right out of university, she started a small enterprise to make products out of recycled paper. Later, even as she plugged away at a law firm, it was pro bono work that engaged her. “I did not find meaning practising as a lawyer, representing banks and corporations in their claims against smaller companies or individuals,” she says. Instead, she found her calling in NGO work. “Doing the work has made me a more empathetic and better human being,” says Corinna. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more stories from #MyGivingJourney series here. 

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist, who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising. 

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4 Critical Educational Gaps for Disadvantaged Children & Youth in Singapore

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While abilities and talents are distributed equally across the population, access to educational resources is often not. Children from low-income families are the ones who pay the price. Without the right educational opportunities, they underperform in school and end up with lower-paying jobs. Studies show that students from low-income families are more than four times as likely to be low performers than their affluent peers. (OECD, 2016) Without intervention, this cycle of income inequality will persist.

The growing special needs community is also in need of our urgent attention. One key area that we highlight is the need for integration with mainstream students. There needs to be greater awareness about creating better school and work opportunities for this community while preparing them to function independently as adults.

In this article, we highlight critical educational gaps for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and ways to level the playing field and improve their opportunities for social mobility.

#1 Funding for Early Education

The pre-school landscape presents over 1,900 childcare centres and kindergartens. They offer a wide-ranging fee structure that can range from a few dollars to over S$2,000 a month, depending on whether they are full or half-day programmes and with or without subsidies. 

During these early childhood years, pre-school education provides the foundation for children. It helps them develop the confidence and social skills to get them ready for formal education. However, low-income families may struggle even with subsidised fees. 

Children from families that can set aside additional resources for pre-school education have more opportunities to strengthen their social and behavioural skills than those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the child is placed into a learning environment earlier in pre-school, they are weaned into the academic lifestyle earlier, which also aids their performance in formal education. Studies show that social-economically advantaged children in Singapore outperformed disadvantaged students in reading by 104 points. (PISA, 2018

While pre-school education is not compulsory, it is critical to ensure that all children get off the starting block of formal school without too much difficulty. Therefore, parents must understand the importance of pre-school education and available financial assistance schemes. It ensures that the children have access to critical education in their formative years.

#2 Developing Life Skills

A child’s home environment has a powerful impact on school readiness. Parents or caregivers in low-income homes tend to be busy working or absent; they have little time to support their children’s learning needs. Children often do not receive the stimulation they need and do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school.

The resulting lower self-confidence, lower motivation, and reduced resilience pose further obstacles in their struggle for social mobility.

Activities such as team sports, drama, and public speaking encourage interaction. They are great for boosting confidence, self-esteem, and socio-emotional skills. We need funding for programmes to provide alternative avenues for these children to develop these essential skills.

#3 Rising Cost of Higher Education

Education has not been spared, with consumer prices increasing steadily over the years. 

Singapore’s average annual education inflation rate from 2001 to 2021 was 2.87%. Higher education, specifically polytechnic diploma fees, rose 20% between 2015 and 2022. The average cost of a 3-year polytechnic education is close to $37,000. (MOE 2022)

Although statistics show that a polytechnic graduate earns 1.4 times more than an ITE graduate, many students will not choose to study at a polytechnic. One reason for this is due to the high school fees. Those who do may drop out of school for the same reason. 

Even with existing public financial aid programmes, students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds still struggle to pay their school and living expenses. More financial assistance from the private sector, in the form of pocket money, bursaries, or scholarships, will help these students bolster the shortfall in higher education expenses.

#4 Lack of Integration

For the special needs community, a critical piece that is sorely lacking is inclusivity. Special education schools are separate from mainstream schools in Singapore, and students do not intermingle.  However, research shows that special needs children benefit from interacting with peers with stronger academic abilities. This benefit goes both ways, as children who have interacted with people with special needs from young develop greater empathy and respect for diversity. (Association for Psychological Science, 2014).

This is a strong push for special education and mainstream schools to work together to create opportunities for meaningful interaction between their students. Children with disabilities are given a chance to develop their potential and thrive in the same environment as their peers.

Funding is required to beef up resources, training and partnerships to facilitate exchange among educators from different backgrounds. We could achieve greater harmonisation across mainstream primary schools, special education, pre-schools and early intervention sectors. An inclusive educational environment would offer a curriculum that caters to different needs, paces of learning as well as provide the facilities and resources required.

Other than school, these children tend to spend less time in public spaces or in recreational activities. Sometimes it is due to practical reasons like access difficulties, which is a great pity as they miss out on opportunities to connect to the larger community. Funding can be directed towards the intentional design of public spaces, sports, and cultural activities so that those with special needs can feel that they are truly a part of society.

Do more with your giving—how CFS can help

To enable every child to shine to their fullest potential and better support the disadvantaged, CFS can help you make a positive impact by aligning your donations with the needs of this community. 

CFS is a cause-neutral organisation that enables us to support grant-making to a wide range of charitable areas that match the donors’ interests and uplift diverse communities in Singapore. These charitable areas include children, youth, education, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, sports, health, animal welfare, environment to arts and heritage.

We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps which might be under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and effective way to contribute to a variety of causes in Singapore is by setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape to provide philanthropy advice that ensures your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful. CFS strives to ensure that every grant which goes out creates positive change.

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs and our DAF payout rates outperformed the entire US DAF industry by 12% and their community foundations by two times.

If you would like to begin your giving journey with CFS, get in touch with us.

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Stories Of Impact

S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund – Providing students with the needed leg-up

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Growing up in a poor family, the late former President of Singapore Mr S R Nathan knew what it was like to struggle with school and making ends meet.

In his teens, he dropped out of school, ran away from home and tried to eke out a living amidst troubled times. While working, he continued his education and was eventually awarded a bursary that enabled him to graduate with a Diploma in Social Studies from then University of Malaya.

“Those of you who have read my memoir will recall – my youth was a very troubled one. Left to despair over my fate, I realised that life was not always fair. Coming face to face with all sorts of hardships, it was the unexpected help from some unknown person that my life turned for the better,” said Mr Nathan.

In 2011 when Mr Nathan published his memoir ‘An Unexpected Journey: Path to the Presidency,’ he established the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) to help students by providing them with the financial assistance to keep them in school and enable them to pursue their tertiary education. Mr Nathan firmly believed that education was an important social leveler which provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their families.

Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), the fund supports programmes like the Institute of Technical Education (ITE)’s Monthly Financial Assistance Scheme (MFAS) which provides needy students with allowances for transport and meals to lessen their financial burden and allow them to focus on their studies.

Mike Goh, a former beneficiary of the MFAS at ITE and currently a student at Republic Polytechnic, began working in his early teens to support himself after both his parents fell severely ill. Recounting the challenges of juggling his academic studies with work, Mike expressed, “If I did not have time to work, the allowance from the fund had helped me manage day by day, and I’m really thankful for that.

Raised in a single-parent home, Yasmin Raihanah Bte Shahrin, a student at ITE College Central, expressed gratitude for the timely support from the fund, “Initially when I started my studies at ITE, I was worried. My mother’s income was not high, and I had to rely on my work income to support my daily expenses. With the award, I felt relieved because I could pay for my school necessities and food.”

The fund also awards bursaries and scholarships to students from local polytechnics and universities. Ding Jian Han, an awardee of the 2018/19 S R Nathan Music Scholarship, was an aspiring composer at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore. Jian Han, who plays the violin, piano and clarinet, credits the support from the fund for enabling him to pursue his passion in music.  “My father passed away when I was young, but I was fortunate to be awarded scholarships so that I was able to help my mum and pay for my school fees,” said Jian Han.

Since 2012, the fund has disbursed over $3 million to support more than 1,500 ITE, polytechnic and university students by providing bursaries, scholarships as well as monthly financial assistance. In 2019, the fund will be establishing the S R Nathan Student Grant at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, as well as the S R Nathan Book Prize and the S R Nathan Special Assistance Scheme at ITE.

Mr Bobby Chin, Chairman of the SRNEUF Grant Advisory Committee said, “Thanks to the vision and generosity of our late former president S R Nathan and the on-going support of donors, we have extended our reach significantly over the last seven years. With CFS’s continued trusted facilitation, the SRNEUF will continue to play a crucial role in helping our youths overcome difficult circumstances in their schooling years, go on to pursue their dreams and forge a brighter future for themselves and their families.”

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Company of Good

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A snapshot of 'company of good partner 2016', showcasing a reliable and trustworthy business alliance.

Company of Good (COG) is a programme that empowers businesses to give better and more holistically. Companies can gain access to a self-assessment tool, a wide range of resources and an exclusive networking circle. The Community Foundation of Singapore is proud to be a partner of Company of Good to help equip companies with the knowledge and tools to do good together. Read more.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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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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