Stories Of Impact
Equipping the marginalised to create a future for themselves
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Equipping the marginalised to create a future for themselves

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Photo credit: Bettr Group

When Zaza’s only daughter was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Zaza felt lost and powerless to decide the fate of her child. Coupled with the ongoing process of a divorce, her situation grew more desperate, plunging her into depression and hopelessness. She had a diploma in pre-school education, and had to reject offers to further her studies due to her circumstances. It was desperation that kept the single mother going; it was all she could do to keep her head above water and not succumb to the overwhelming pressure.

‘I didn’t know what to do,’ Zaza recalls. ‘I was about to give up. Bettr Barista was my last hope of surviving towards becoming an independent, single parent. That was my last shot.’

Yet against all odds, Zaza has come far to become a Barista at The Social Space café, located in Kreta Ayer. This is all made possible by Bettr Barista (BB), a coffee academy whose mission is to empower the lives of marginalised women like Zaza through professional training and teaching them life management skills. Bettr Barista is a partner of the Learning Initiative for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund, launched by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in July 2019.

LIFT aims to support programmes like Bettr Barista’s proprietary Holistic Training programme, which provides vocational training for marginalised women and youths at risk, equipping them with the skills to secure jobs in the open market.

Pamela Chng, CEO of Bettr Barista, first had dreams to start a business to do good when she left the tech industry after eight years.

‘I found myself burnt out because I derived little emotional satisfaction from my work. I knew I wasn’t motivated by money – I had realised this much earlier in my life,’ Pamela explains. ‘If I continued to work hard at a business, it had to mean more – to myself, and to society.’

Bettr Barista has certainly made an impact on many of the lives it has touched, including Zaza’s. As the first B Corp certified company in Singapore, it is BB’s mission along with 2,750 other B Corp companies around the world to redefine success as a business and use it as a force for good. These companies have a responsibility beyond just maximising profit, and must operate in an ethical manner that gives back to the community.

Unsurprisingly, Bettr Barista was named the social enterprise of the year in 2017, and 94% of their trainees found jobs upon graduating from the academy’s Holistic Training programme. Not only that, 80% gained improved self-confidence and emotional management skills after having gone through their training.

‘Confidence is the main factor I got. When I started with BB it was difficult in the beginning,’ Zaza says. ‘I had no confidence, only a sense of being lost and a lack of hope. The moral and financial support that BB gave me helped me get back on my two feet. Now I move forward and I will never let adversity control my life again.’

What started in 2011 has grown and developed into The Bettr Group. Apart from selling home-grown specialty coffee in Singapore, it now encompasses a training academy, retail products, events services, and social impact programmes. At the heart of it all is a social mission — to empower vulnerable groups and equip them with skills to create a future for themselves. Pamela hopes to bring Bettr Barista into the future through expanding into the rest of Southeast Asia to countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.

‘We want to diversify the social programmes that we can offer and to continue building partnerships and in-house capabilities to adapt our programmes to impact these populations,’ says Pamela. ‘Bettr Barista creates a positive impact in every ecosystem it operates in, and helps people maximise their potential to become better versions of themselves.’

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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 https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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News

The Straits Times: Teen violinist with an astonishing maturity

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a picture of a girl playing a violin

by Chang Tou Liang, 29 October 2016

“Fifty years ago, the classical music scene in Singapore was spearheaded by Goh Soon Tioe (1911-1982), violinist, pedagogue, conductor and all-round music entrepreneur.

His name lives on in the award created in his memory, given to exceptional young Singaporean string players and administered by his daughters Vivien and Sylvia, and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The recipient of this year’s Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award is teenager Mathea Goh Xinyi, a student of former child prodigy Lee Huei Min, whose 75-minute solo recital distinguished her as a major talent to watch in years to come. There was nothing student-like in her playing, only an astonishing maturity that has to be experienced to be believed.” Read more

Photos: Adrian Tee of Pixelmusica

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News

The Community Foundation of Singapore spreads greater love through effective use of charitable gifts

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portrait of CFS CEO Catherine Loh

Catherine Loh, the CEO of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), recently spoke to Lianhe Zaobao to share more about the work the organisation is doing. CFS has over 13 years of expertise in philanthropy advisory, fund administration and grantmaking and has been recognised for its commitment to transparency and governance. Hence donors can be confident that their grants will help meet the evolving needs of the community – now and into the future.  

As shared by Ms Catherine Loh, the CEO of CFS: “With falling birth rates and a rising elderly population, philanthropy can focus more on the elderly in the coming years. While the government take cares of the basic needs, there is much that the general public can do to improve the quality of life of the elderly, give them dignity and allow them to have a meaningful and active third age. 

In the area of education, in addition to the young, we should also be helping adult learners who need additional support as they re-train due to disruptions brought on by rapidly changing technology.” 

Catherine Loh also shared that, following last year’s outpour of generosity, CFS saw how much Singaporeans care about others – supporting programmes relating to the disadvantaged, education, health and more. The Sayang Sayang Fund, established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn over S$9 million in donations from 5,185 individual and corporate donors, helping an estimated 136,000 individuals across Singapore.  

Since its establishment, CFS has collected a total of 192 million, distributing more than 114 million dollars in grants and is currently managing a total of 162 charitable funds. As a charitable organization, CFS helps individuals and corporates set up and manage their own donor-advised funds, supporting causes which they are passionate about.   

Building on the momentum of the launch of the Legacy Giving Initiative and “A Greater Gift” campaign, CFS is focusing on growing knowledge of legacy giving and the value of gifts to charity. A poll – conducted by CFS and NVPC between April and July last year with survey firm Toluna – found that 6 in 10 agree that everyone can make a legacy gift. Going forward, CFS will focus on highlighting ways of making gifts, as well as encouraging and enabling philanthropy conversations – whether at dinner tables or in office settings. 

CFS recognise that, while there is awareness, more information is needed to help individuals make informed decisions. CFS actively reaches out to legal and financial professional advisors, to share about the donor-advised fund as a modern tool for planning philanthropy. It is our hope that professional advisors will more frequently include charitable giving in conversations about wealth planning with clients.  

One example of CFS’s donor-advised fund would be the SR Nathan Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF), which has distributed millions of dollars to bursaries, scholarships and various financial assistance programmes, to support financially disadvantaged students to smoothly advance to higher education. 

As shared by Mr Bobby Chin, Chairman of the Grant Advisory Committee of the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: “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. 

As we celebrate the Fund’s 10th anniversary, we are happy to share that the SRNEUF has disbursed over $3.7 million to support ITE, polytechnic and university students through awards, bursaries, scholarships as well as monthly financial assistance.” 

The other example is the Dr. Lim Boon Tiong Foundation which donated 24 million dollars from his estate, to assist elderly and terminal patients, and fund cancer research. Working as a doctor till the age of 80, Dr Lim’s medical background and life experiences shaped his interest in helping the elderly and those suffering from urological conditions. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 70s, Dr Lim became interested in supporting urological cancer research.  

His daughter Sylvia revealed that her father was frustrated because he was unable to help her grandfather who also had prostate issues. When he became ill himself, he wanted more research in this area to benefit future generations. 

Dr Lim passed away prior to the establishment of the fund, leaving his wishes to be executed by his adult children.  

In 2018, his daughters Sylvia and Ivy set up the Dr Lim Boon Tiong Foundation, a donor-advised fund with CFS – with a gift of $24 million supporting causes that Dr Lim was passionate about. 

CFS worked with them to identify and support projects such as the Dr Joseph Lim Boon Tiong Urology Cancer Research Initiative at the National University of Singapore (NUH), Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) and Assisi Hospice. 

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao 

Credit: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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Opinion

Pragmatic reasons to engage In philanthropy

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Elderly man lying on grass with sign.

Educator George Jacobs became involved in philanthropy because he wanted to put his money where his mouth is. As someone who feels strongly about contributing to greater food security in Singapore, the passionate advocate for a vegan lifestyle established the Relaxed Fund to promote horticulture in the little red dot.

“My wife and I wanted to encourage people to eat more plant-based foods, as these foods boost human health and address global warming issues. One way to convince people to change their diets is to immerse them in growing greens themselves, so they feel a sense of ownership. Thus, they want the greens to find a good home — in their stomachs,” he says.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Singapore, which enables philanthropy by matching donors’ interests with causes, the Relaxed Fund has thus far spearheaded the launch of three edible community gardens. Jacobs regards these gardens as a tangible step towards increasing the country’s self-reliance on food, saying, “The government has a 30 by 30 goal, for Singapore to produce 30 per cent of our food needs by 2030. Everyone needs to help if we are to reach this goal and home and community gardening is one method of achieving the target.”

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

Practically speaking, there is a need for the wealthy, particularly in Asia, to step forward the way Jacobs has. “Asia has amassed one-third of the world’s wealth, but still has two-thirds of the world’s poor,” says Dr Ruth Shapiro, chief executive officer of the Centre for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS).

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, international support is on a gradual decline, which means an “Asia for Asia” centric philanthropy has to fill the gap, the Doing Good Index, the latest study by CAPS indicates. “There is now a unique opportunity to use this newly created wealth to alleviate poverty, protect the environment and promote societal resilience,” Dr Shapiro adds.

The advantage of philanthropy in its various forms is that it enables donors to steer the impact they hope to achieve in their field of interest. “Many donors who come to us already have a passion for a particular cause,” explains Catherine Loh, chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). To date, its donors have given about $70 million to over 400 non-profit organisations in the areas of education, health, social and welfare, arts, culture, environment and more. “While charity is a natural, emotional impulse to an immediate situation and giving usually occurs in the short-term, philanthropy addresses the root cause of social issues and requires a more strategic, long-term approach.”

She cites former president SR Nathan, who established an education endowment fund with CFS after he stepped down as president, spurred by his personal experiences of overcoming hardships. The endowment fund has since helped many beneficiaries graduate with diplomas and degrees, hence securing a better future for these individuals and their families, an outcome that was close to his heart.

There are also business imperatives that spur some to engage in philanthropy. For starters, Singapore has the highest tax subsidy for charitable giving in the world at a rate of 250 percent for individuals and companies, which offers a strong incentive to give.

It also bodes well that many companies do care about the communities in which they operate, observes Dr Ruth Shapiro of CAPS — and philanthropy gives them an avenue to engage with these local communities in various ways. Funding social delivery organisations is one straightforward way of doing so. According to the Doing Good Index, the average social organisation in Singapore only receives 16 percent of their budget from companies, indicating there is potential for further monetary contributions.

“Businesses can encourage their employees to volunteer and sit on boards of non-profit organisations and social enterprises,” Dr Shapiro adds. She notes that in Singapore, only 55 percent of non-profit board members have corporate experience, hence encouraging volunteering in this form would allow important skills and business rigor to transfer to the social sector. Taking on such roles may also provide individuals with an additional opportunity to develop leadership skills that can benefit the business in turn.

Philanthropy via the establishment of a foundation dedicated to a specific cause can also be instrumental in uniting successors of a business or a family with shared purposes. “This is one way to pass on one’s interests and values and an opportunity to make an impact now in their lifetime and beyond,” says Loh.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the oft uttered trope that by doing good, one feels good too might be the most powerful motivating factor. This concept, which is advocated by French neuroscientist turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, has been proven in many studies that show people who give are significantly happier than those who spend only on themselves.

Jacobs of the Relaxed Fund could not agree more. He says, “My wife and I have already lived for over sixty comfortable years. Taking a little time from our schedules instead of watching Netflix and spending a little of the funds we have accumulated, instead of using them for some products we do not need, is a sweet feeling.”

Source: a.com

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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 https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Opinion

Accessing Quality Education: Three Areas Where Donors Can Make A Difference

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Smiling children wearing orange shirts sitting at a table with notebooks

Students without means often do not enjoy the same opportunities as their well-to-do peers. Some are forced to give up their studies to support themselves and their families. Others struggle throughout school without realising they have a learning disability. Some younger children are less school-ready, leading them to fall behind academically. With grants from CFS donors, at-risk students can get the right support to access quality education, one of five focal outcome-centred causes that CFS champions.  

We firmly believe education can boost a person’s employability, and promote inclusivity and integration within society. However, we recognise that not every child has an equal shot at obtaining the education they need. With targeted philanthropy, we bridge critical gaps and improve social mobility for our most vulnerable young.

CFS curates evidence-backed programmes that stretch from pre-school to tertiary level. In this article, we focus on three essential areas where, together with our donors, we continue to make a tangible impact. These are financial assistance for living expenses, helping children with learning differences and building skills for primary-level pupils. 

Letting Students Focus on Learning Through Financial Assistance

At the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), students gain diplomas and valuable skills in a variety of industries, from food science to nursing to IT.  The majority of ITE students, however, come from challenging backgrounds: 46% are from families with a per capita income of under $1,000, more than twice the national average. Many then have to work part-time, leaving less time for their studies.

ITE lends a helping hand to these youths through the Monthly Financial Assistance Scheme (MFAS). Beneficiaries receive $150 per month for six months to help with their food and transport costs. 

ITE is only able to help some of their students with MFAS and relies on donor support to ensure greater coverage. This would help even more students on their quest to graduate and find gainful employment. 

Similar financial assistance schemes are also offered by AMKFSC Community Services Ltd, Nanyang Polytechnic, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic. Numerous students with limited family support stand to benefit from your generosity.

Support for Dyslexia Assessments

Children with learning differences often have difficulties keeping up in school. This can severely impact their academic life and hurt their career opportunities. Some have dyslexia without knowing it: global incidence rates suggest that up to 10% of the school-going population may suffer from dyslexia.

In Singapore, the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) conducts close to 1,000 psycho-educational assessments each year, based on referrals by teachers and parents. These assessments are important in identifying the needs of struggling learners to make appropriate recommendations for learning support. However, about 35% of these children come from low-income families, who will not be able to afford the costly assessment fees.

Donor support from CFS directly funds psycho-educational assessments by trained psychologists at DAS. Once diagnosed, the children will be able to receive support tailored to their learning abilities. Through early intervention, donors are helping disadvantaged children overcome their learning differences, allowing them to fulfil their potential.

After-School Enrichment Builds Skills and Confidence

Each child starts at a different point in primary school based on their socio-economic background. Those from families facing challenges may have weaker literacy or numeracy skills and thus be less prepared for school.  Being placed into lower-performing classes may demoralise and frustrate these children, leading to disinterest and reduced academic motivation.

KidsExcel works closely with primary schools to reach out to students from families with a gross household income below $2,750 or per capita income below $690. It runs regular enrichment sessions which address learning gaps as well as activities centred on sports and life skills. This includes drama, public speaking and robotics. The programme boosts resilience and character-building while helping the kids academically. It also empowers parents to participate in their children’s educational journey.

In 2022, KidsExcel served 350 primary school children across 11 centres. An encouraging number of children were able to improve their grades, while 87% of Primary 6 pupils passed their PSLE. Through KidsExcel, donors are helping to level the playing field for underprivileged children in primary schools. 

We could spark change with far-reaching effects by funding a programme that improves access to quality education. Drawing on our experience working with charities and partners over the years, CFS is here to offer advisory and administrative support so that you can focus on the transformative power of your giving to educational causes.  

Learn how CFS can help you support access to quality education at https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

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 https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

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