Stories Of Impact
Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT): Transforming Lives for the better
wavy line banner

Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT): Transforming Lives for the better

John Doe
John Doe
a portrait of a man with a wooden background

At just 18 years old, Jeevan never imagined that he would find himself resigned to his fate in life.

“Three years ago, I dropped out of school, did some things, and ended up on probation. At that point in time, I thought that this would be the end for me – this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life,” recalls the young man.

Despite repeated rebuffs from many employers, things took a turn for the better after Jeevan was accepted into Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training programme.

Bettr Barista’s Holistic Training Programme is committed to equipping vulnerable individuals from marginalised groups with skills to be employed and stay employed. Through the programme, they are trained not only in practical skills as a barista, but also in interpersonal skills to integrate back into society.

“I went to 20 interviews in two months, but they all rejected me because of my probation. It was tough until I came to Bettr. I didn’t expect to get accepted and I was mentally drained after all those rejections. When I was accepted, I was quite happy and really looking forward to it as something that could change my life.”

As a result of going through two months of BB’s Holistic Training programme, Jeevan is currently employed at Five &2 Bistro.

Changing lives for the better, even for those who are resigned to their fate – this is the mission of Bettr Barista, whose programmes are aimed at turning the lives around for marginalised groups and equipping them with holistic skills to get and stay employed. These groups include youth-at-risk like Jeevan, persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses and disadvantaged women.

Improving the lives of the marginalised since 2011

Bettr Barista and Project Dignity are two of the social enterprises partnered with the Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF), spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).

Since 2011, 135 participants have enrolled into Bettr Baristas Holistic Training (HT) programme, which saw an increase from an average of 12.6 to 40 trainees every year after it began receiving funding from LIFT.

The HT programme is an intense two to four months full-time work-and-study programme, which provides training ranging from emotional self-awareness counselling and workshops in Professional Coffee Education, to soft skill development and employment readiness.

By December 2020, a 65% graduation rate is expected from the cohort of 40 participants from April 2019 to October 2020, in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The remainder of the cohort which did not graduate faced extenuating circumstances, with an unsupportive home environment cited as one of the key challenges faced by the participants.

18 of the graduates have already found employment with BB’s referral partners, in sectors such as Social Services, Family Services and Probation & Community Rehabilitation.

Giving dignity to the intellectually disabled through culinary arts

Project Dignity’s Train-and-Place programme helps equip marginalised individuals with practical skills to gain and sustain employment through a 22 day vocational Food and Beverage (F&B) On-Job-Training programme.

Those who participate are disadvantaged individuals with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues. They learn about aspects of working in the F&B industry, such as basic food hygiene and quality control procedures to prepare ingredients and serve customers.

As of October 2020, the programme outcome reports a high completion rate of 94% from the 50 participating trainees, with 76% gaining employment after completing the programme. Additionally, 22% of employed participants remain employed for a sustained period of at least three months, with six trainees remaining employed for 12 months or more.

The 38 trainees who were employed received a salary which ranged from $500 to $1,600. Trainees who completed the programme but were not able to receive employment cited extenuating circumstances from challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and nursing home restrictions

If you would like to support someone in their journey towards sustained employment opportunities, please visit our donation drive on Giving.sg.

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.

Stories Of Impact

Equipping the marginalised to create a future for themselves

John Doe
John Doe
Lady in blue dress standing in front of vibrant yellow backdrop.

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.’

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”。

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.

Events

Inspiring thoughts from our anniversary speeches

John Doe
John Doe
A lady giving a speech at a podium

At CFS’s 10th anniversary event, it was the perfect moment to reflect on the sea of change in the philanthropy landscape over the past decade. But what lies ahead? Our three distinguished speakers – Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS, and Laurence Lien, Chairman of CFS – all struck home the point on philanthropy’s potential for growth in Singapore – through driving impact via new giving channels, collaboration and innovative approaches.

Here are three inspiring thoughts from the evening’s speeches:

Working together to build a caring Singapore.
The work at CFS contributes to SG Cares, because an impactful philanthropy landscape is a hallmark of a caring society, where those with resources give back effectively to help those in need. Collaboration is the way to go, and donors today are taking more initiative, and seeking more meaningful engagement opportunities. CFS is well positioned to seize these opportunities and provide the platforms.”
Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
Read more

Philanthropy will need to continue to evolve.
“While Singapore has progressed rapidly, the social challenges we face, from an ageing population to social inequality, have become more complex and interconnected. While the government tackles social issues on a large scale, there are always gaps that are in need of more support. It’s crucial for philanthropy to evolve to tackle these diverse issues within our community innovatively.”
Catherine Loh, CEO, CFS
Read more

There’s room to dream bigger and beyond.
“I hope that in 2028, we will see mini community foundations in our neighbourhoods, in places like Toa Payoh, Queenstown and Punggol. (I hope) that we have democratised giving. Giving is not only for the rich; everyone should and can give. I hope to see young adults start donor advised funds with us, at smaller amounts of commitment, and our collective funds grow with widespread contributions. I hope to see CFS raise $1 billion in donor funds, maybe not in 10 years’ time, but at some point in the future.”
Laurence Lien, Chairman, CFS
Read more

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”。

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.

Opinion

4 Critical Educational Gaps for Disadvantaged Children & Youth in Singapore

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people sitting at a table with a group of children

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.

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.

Opinion

Eileen Heisman: Donor advised funds are a flexible tool that can adapt to changing giving interests

John Doe
John Doe
A woman confidently delivering a speech at a podium, standing before a sign, conveying her message with conviction and authority.

(Excerpts from a keynote speech by Eileen Heisman, President and CEO, National Philanthropic Trust delivered at the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019)

When I was here in Singapore a decade ago as part of the Community Foundation of Singapore’s (CFS) international advisory committee, the idea of being involved in the global launch of a community foundation was so exciting to me. Everyone here was really eager to learn. They wanted to have impact. I knew CFS was going to set its own path.

Over 22 years ago, I was sitting in a dark, private cubicle trying to figure out what to do with this brand new charity I was part of. Today, National Philanthropic Trust (NPT) – which is the largest independent donor advised fund (DAF) administrator in the United States – has raised US$13 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages US$7.4 billion in charitable assets. In recent years, we’ve started making global grants of around US$700 million to over 75 countries.

I see a lot of similarities between CFS’s journey and my time in that small cubicle. CFS has raised S$130 million and given away S$70 million. With this incredible talent, opportunity and resources you have here, I believe there’s so much more CFS can grow as a community foundation.

What compels a potential donor to act? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question throughout my career working with donor advised funds. Just as every person comes to this earth with different gifts and backgrounds, donors have vastly different philanthropic goals. I’ve had the privilege of getting inside the thinking of donors and understanding what excites them about philanthropy. One of the biggest moments in my career at NPT was when a donor from New York City donated US$200 million to us. He was an early adopter and one of those people who saw opportunity.

I like to say donors don’t give to us, they give through us. Donor advised funds are flexible. They are relatively inexpensive. They can meet and adapt to changing interests. If you were interested in a cause when you were younger and that changes as you grow older, you’re not wedded to that particular cause because you can shape the fund according to your preferences. Philanthropy is also about legacy. A DAF is a tool you can spend down over your lifetime or you can pass it down to your children.

It’s one of the reasons why donor DAFs are the fastest growing philanthropic tool in the United States. The number of DAFs has doubled in the US over the last five years. In addition to Singapore, there is growing interest in DAFs in Asia, from China, India, Hong Kong to Japan. As a philanthropic tool, I believe DAFs are going to become more and more popular.

If I had to give a piece of advice to new donors: when you’re getting started with giving through DAFs, it’s important not to overcomplicate the process. Start simple. Find two or three causes you really like. Find one or two good charities in each of those categories, and support those charities over three to five years.

With any social issue, nothing gets solved within one year. In the social sector, we learn about solutions to existing problems from trying new things. Don’t be afraid to fund solutions that are new because it’s the only way we learn. It’s as important to fund failure as it is to fund success.

One of the wonderful things about being part of a community foundation is that it truly is a way to make the world a better place. Doing it with partners and the community’s collective effort makes the journey so much more enjoyable than doing it alone.

Eileen Heisman
President and CEO
National Philanthropic Trust

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”。

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.

Trending Stories

Scroll to Top