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

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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Epoch Times: Corporate philanthropy? When a company truly cares

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By Li Yen, October 2016

Download Epoch Times article – ‘Corporate Philanthropy? When a Company Truly Cares’

Corporate giving, or corporate philanthropy, has been gaining momentum in the Republic over the past decade, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in parliament on Nov 3, 2014. Donations by corporations to Institutions of a Public Character (IPC) have increased two-fold from S$325 million in 2004 to S$644.4 million in 2013, he added.

Looking back at Singapore’s history, charitable donations from corporations is not a recent trend. During the pivotal ‘60s, the tenacity to rebuild Singapore had kindled the philanthropic spirit of some corporations. They offered monetary donations to aid the newly independent nation to battle its problems.

According to a research paper entitled ‘Philanthropy on the Road to Nationhood in Singapore’ by Roshini Prakash and Pauline Tan, the Medical Progress Fund launched in 1965 collected a total of S$4.75 million, with donations from Singapore Turf Club (S$100,000), Singapore Tobacco Company (S$30,000) and The Straits Times (S$12,500).

Other imperative fund-raising projects like the National Defence Fund raised S$8.29 million by 1969. Donations came from big corporations, namely Fraser and Neave (F&N) (S$20,000), F&N’s Board Chairman Tan Chin Tuan (S$50,000), Overseas United Bank (S$150,000), Chinese Chamber of Commerce (S$63,325), and Sheng Huo Enterprise (S$25,000).

Why Should Companies Build a Culture of Giving Back?

Let us take a closer look at corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR). The two concepts are closely linked, just that philanthropy is a portion of the bigger corporate social responsibility pie.

Typically, corporate philanthropy comprises monetary donations or resources such as facilities or volunteer time put in by the company’s employees.

Nonetheless, while the motive of corporate philanthropy is altruistic, corporations have begun to foresee the need to initiate philanthropic schemes as corporate investment, to gain a better positioning edge over their competitors.

Corporate philanthropy denotes a company’s values. As Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, said at the NVPC Corporate Giving Practitioner Roundtable 2015: “Corporate Giving is a deeply important endeavour. When corporate organisations embark on volunteering or philanthropic efforts, it sends a strong message to all both inside and outside the company that they are more than just about bottom lines.”

Corporate philanthropy can be integrated into a corporation’s mission and corporate social responsibility to steer the company in the right direction. Not contradictory to their business interests, the company itself and the employees can reap the benefits of doing good while benefiting the communities it serves.

Catherine Loh, CEO of Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), told Epoch Times: “Companies who do good and build a culture of giving back reap benefits like inspiring and engaging their staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Companies are also more likely to grow a positive brand image and attract and retain talent.”

Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 to encourage and enable philanthropy in Singapore by enabling donors to set up their own named charitable funds.

CFS helps to bridge individual and corporate donors with charitable organisations to develop programmes and give out grants that support a wide range of needs in the community. Currently, CFS manages more than 80 donor funds, giving out S$10 million every year to make a positive change in many ways.

Ms Loh added that there are numerous benefits for companies looking to partake in corporate philanthropy, such as:

  1. Increasing staff morale and employee retention
  2. Attracting and retaining talent
  3. Growing a positive reputation with the media and the public
  4. Reinforcing corporate culture and identity
  5. Generating business development opportunities
  6. Improving customer retention and brand recall

For instance, Douglas Conant, who was President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company until 2011, noted that the more Campbell allocated their resources to developing philanthropic initiatives to serve the communities, the more engaged and productive their employees were.

Their meaningful mission of “building the world’s most extraordinary food company by nourishing people’s lives everywhere, every day” laid the foundation for the firm’s success.

In another example, American production firm DreamWorks SKG joined hands with schools to devise training programmes that taught low-income students in Los Angeles essential skills in the entertainment industry. This in turn contributes to a better education system that boosts the employability of these low-income students. In addition, having more specially trained graduates helps to strengthen the entertainment industry that it relies on.

However, companies engaging in corporate philanthropy should also comply with other ethical issues concerning environment, consumers, human rights, supply-chain sustainability and transparency, or they cannot be said to be practising good CSR even if they make huge donations to charities. Doing otherwise is just sheer hypocrisy and falsehood, said Gerard Ee, Chairman of Charity Council.

“First and foremost, you got to believe you have a broader responsibility than just making money,” stressed Mr Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation.

How Corporations Can Start Giving
Corporations wishing to kick-start their philanthropy effectively can approach the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS).

“For companies that approach CFS, we help to kick-start their philanthropic journey by aligning their core values and intent with the needs of the local community,” said Ms Catherine Loh. “By setting a charitable fund with us, companies are actively involved in deciding how to make the most impact with their philanthropic money.”

CFS, which has a vision of growing a sustained culture of giving for generations to come, has worked alongside a number of corporations in Singapore – for example, Changi Foundation, Ascendas-Singbridge, Estate Developers Association (REDAS) and UBS – on their corporate philanthropy, which involves grantmaking that supports community projects.

A notable example is the Diversity in Abilities programme co-managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore with UBS, which aims to develop and showcase the artistic talents of children and youths with special needs.

As there are more than 2,000 charities in Singapore, CFS can “narrow down and identify charities that are aligned with their philanthropic objectives, given their knowledge and expertise, and we can identify gaps and opportunities to enable companies to make more strategic and effective giving,” said Ms Loh.

To ensure full transparency and accountability, CFS also assists donors in keeping an eye on how their philanthropic money is impacting the beneficiaries, the output, and outcomes through a rigorous programme evaluation and robust grantmaking process, as well as concise reporting.

“Companies find our services useful as they often have to report back to the shareholders on how their philanthropic money has been used.”

She added: “We can also help companies identify charities that can better accommodate their employees for volunteering activities. For example, we introduced a bank with many foreign employees to a charity that runs an English reading programme for children from low-income families. These native English-speaking employees could actively contribute by reading aloud to these children.”

“Companies can contribute time, treasure and/or talent. There is no one best way to give back,” she asserted.

CFS’s sister agency, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NPVC), whose mantra is “Goodness is the Business of Every Organisation”, has a programme called the Company of Good that aims to help companies give better and holistically. For information, visit https://companyofgood.sg/

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Stories Of Impact

Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Fund – Nurturing future generations of musicians

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Goh Soon Tioe "One Great Symphony"

Goh Soon Tioe (1911–1982) is remembered as one of Singapore’s greatest musical pioneers. Besides being an accomplished violinist, conductor and teacher, he brought hundreds of international performers to the Singapore stage. He also took the Singapore Youth Symphony Orchestra on successful tours around the world.

In 2011, in celebration of his birth centenary year, his family established an endowment fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to support talented young classical musicians who wish to build a career in music.

The Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Fund is managed by CFS and awards scholarships to young Singapore musicians with a consistent track record of outstanding musicianship and performance. Winners include guitarist Kevin Loh, violinists Joey Lau, Mathea Goh, Alan Choo and Helena Dawn Yah, double bassist Julian Li Yongrui and cellist Theophilus Tan.

On the motivation for starting the fund, his daughter Cultural Medallion winner Vivien Goh said, “I decided to establish an award in memory of my father when I was inspired by CFS’ stories of how endowed funds could help deserving individuals achieve their goals and dreams.”

Photos: Adrian Tee and Gilbert Chan of Pixelmusica, Singapore Press Holdings, winners.

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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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Stories Of Impact

LEAD Academy – Empowering youths to lead and influence

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The LEAD Academy was set up in 2014 as a collaboration between CampVision, UBS Singapore and the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to impact marginalised youths in neighbourhood schools.

LEAD provides a platform that partners youths with professional volunteers to develop self-leadership abilities and cultivate effective communication skills. The aim is to empower youths to be an effective leader of their peers and a positive influence on others. This unique programme puts youths on a shared journey of equals guided by executive leadership coaches who create an engaging and transformational learning experience for them and their mentors.

Through a series of structured facilitated sessions by the coaches, youths and volunteers learn to own their personal feelings and manage their individual confidence physiology. They also learn verbal and non-verbal communication skills and how to engage with other adult volunteers. Both youths and volunteers set personal goals – relating to leadership and communication – that need to be achieved when they graduate in six months’ time. At every session, they meet in small groups to hold one another accountable for their actions.

During the journey, youths have been observed to increasingly gain confidence in themselves. They take on opportunities to lead games, speak in front of their peers and practise small talk with adult strangers. The youths also interact and engage with different working professional volunteers who represent a broad range of professions including banking, sales, legal, marketing, technology, HR and the military.

“CFS has been instrumental in facilitating the partnership between CampVision and UBS. We would not have been able to achieve the impact with LEAD without the support of CFS. They have also been helpful in helping us to better understand the youth landscape so we can focus our efforts on the relevant youth population,” said Yeo Suan Wei, Co-founder of CampVision.

LEAD is an affirming, safe and empowering community of youths and professionals who find the courage to be vulnerable in their efforts to be better individuals. The connections that are built through the LEAD journey broaden the youths’ exposure and their world view. These connections also contribute towards the building of social capital between two groups of people who may otherwise not cross paths and be personally impacted by each other. LEAD aims to continue its impactful run by engaging and empowering 70 youths and 70 volunteers each year.

Photos: CampVision

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Stories Of Impact

Empowering Her Dream: International Women’s Forum Singapore Aids Young Fashion Designer’s Success

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Denise Yeo was juggling two part-time jobs while studying full-time for a degree in Fashion Design & Textiles at LASALLE College of the Arts. So, she was overjoyed when she received an education grant from the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF). “The money meant I could divert more time to my studies,” says the 23-year-old student.

Funding her degree has been a struggle. Her father is disabled in both legs and cannot work. Her mother works in a restaurant and Denise’s elder sister, who looks after their father, had to take out a loan from her Central Provident Fund savings to help Denise pay for her tuition fees.

The $4,500 IWF grant has let her cut back on her working hours in her crucial final year. It also helped fund her graduation project – a collection of six looks inspired by the whimsical, playful nature of clowns – which is critical to building a career in fashion. “Fashion involves a lot of money and time,” says Denise, who graduates in April 2023. The financial security allowed her to devote more time to designing her collection and invest in better quality fabric and trimmings.

Denise is already crafting a name as a designer to watch. In 2021, the articulate and talented young lady won the Men’s Folio Designer of the Year competition. She plans to start a brand of her own and pursue a master’s degree and a PhD. Grateful for how the IWF grant positively impacted her, Denise hopes more philanthropic support can be extended to students in the creative arts.

The annual grant came from the IWF Singapore Education Grants Fund, a donor-advised fund (DAF) which IWF set up in 2014 with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). IWF is an invitation-only network of accomplished women dedicated to advancing women’s leadership and championing gender equality. It strongly believes in nurturing the next generation of women by providing access to education and mentorship.

The IWF Singapore Education Grant aims to support deserving young women in any field, in any educational institution in Singapore. Beneficiaries are typically students between the ages of 17 to 35 who are applying or studying for a diploma or degree at a local polytechnic or university, and who are at risk of dropping out due to financial challenges.

Aside from monetary aid, the grant seeks to equip these students with life skills and guidance on career choices. This is done with the help of the Young Women’s Leadership Connection, a mentorship programme initiated by Mrs Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of law firm Duane Morris and Selvam LLP. For IWF, partnering with CFS has been the ideal way to fulfil its specific philanthropic goals. As Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS is a leader in philanthropy advisory and grantmaking, and will celebrate its 15th year of connecting donors with opportunities to make impact in 2023. Tapping into its deep roots in the community, CFS helped IWF navigate unmet needs in the educational sector, backed by its solid knowledge of local institutes of higher learning and data such as the cost of education.

With the help of CFS, IWF looks for students with grit – those who strive to excel in their chosen field. Beyond that, it also seeks out students with a strong desire to make a difference to their community and who show empathy for the less fortunate. In Denise’s case, what helped her stand apart was her commitment to sustainability.

While working in F&B, she gained an appreciation for managing waste, recycling and thoughtful sourcing of materials. This prompted Denise to weave in elements of eco-consciousness into her designs. She opts for natural fabrics, instead of synthetic ones, and is creating outfits that can be worn in many different ways, to improve their lifespan.

In 2021 alone, the IWF fund supported grants to 31 students in tertiary institutions. Since its inception, the IWF has awarded a total of 143 grants to 127 unique young women from 13 local institutions. Through its long-running generosity and tireless mentoring, the IWF has made a lasting impact on the lives of numerous young women.

Establishing a DAF with CFS is a seamless, cost-effective and flexible way for donors to embark on their very own giving journey. As a one-stop philanthropic centre, CFS tailors each DAF to a donor’s motivations and handles the tax, legal, reporting, governance and fund management requirements. This is all carried out at minimal cost. Backed by 14 years of experience and counting, CFS is honoured to be the leading provider of DAFs in Singapore today.

For more on how CFS can help you on your philanthropic journey, please visit this page.

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