Stories Of Impact
Supporting ITE Students through COVID
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

Supporting ITE Students through COVID

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As many as 80 percent of ITE students come from low-income families and are receiving bursaries from the government. Kintan Teo is one of them. Her family of four survived on just $800 a month before COVID-19 struck. Her mother, the sole breadwinner, was working as a cleaner.

When Kintan’s mother lost her job in April, the family had to use whatever meagre savings they had to get by. While Kintan’s mother sold baked and cooked food to generate some
income, her earnings were still insufficient to cover their utilities and other bills. Kintan, a Business Studies student at ITE, tried working part-time to supplement the family income but gave it up after a few months. She had to work four to five days a week for up to seven hours daily as a team leader at a chicken wing restaurant.

“The job was physically and emotionally draining. It was difficult for me to work and study at the same time. I didn’t have time to rest as I had to report for work immediately after my lessons and during weekends,” explained Kintan. Left with only five hours of sleep a day, Kintan was constantly tired and found it hard to wake up and stay focused in school. She also didn’t have enough time to do revision and her grades were affected.

Studies Come First
Like Kintan, Passenger Services student Siti Raudhah is struggling to cope with work and studies. Her mother, who works as a cleaner, is the sole breadwinner of her family of five. Since young, Siti has been aware of her family’s financial difficulties. After completing her ‘O’ Levels, she took on part-time jobs in banquet services and retail to supplement her family income.

Siti is currently working part-time at a clothing retail store but is clear that her studies always come first. “Working and studying at the same time is tough. As a slow-learner, I took a
break from my part-time job to catch up on my studies before resuming work. This is how I balance my studies and work,” explained Siti.

Help On the Way
More than 1,000 needy students are dependent on ITE for meals when they are in school. During the Circuit Breaker period, the Recess@Home scheme through the Sayang Sayang Fund made it possible for these students to continue receiving meals. More than $650,000 was contributed, enabling students across primary to tertiary levels to have at least one decent meal a day while on home-based learning.

In addition, some students like Siti receive additional aid under the Special Student Assistance Scheme (SSAS)-Covid, which provides emergency relief for students who are badly affected by the Covid-19 situation. With the help of the $100,000 donation from the Mind The Gap – Knowledge Funds, Siti and others like her have some emergency funds to fall back on to help them tide through this difficult period.

“The additional financial aid has helped my family. My mother is able to buy groceries and I am able to set aside some money for school and other necessities,” said Siti.

Photo credit: ITE

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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: The ST Guide To… giving to charity

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four teenagers helping to clean a dirty wall

For those with fatter wallets and who hope to create a greater impact with their gift, they can even consider setting up a charitable fund to give to causes close to their hearts.

For example, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), a non-profit group, helps donors find a more structured and sustainable way of giving by providing advice and managing their charitable fund.

To set up a named charitable fund in the CFS, where the donor decides on the fund’s name and the causes to give to, donors must pledge at least $200,000.

For those with slimmer bank accounts, there is no minimum sum to give if they want to donate directly to the Community Impact Funds that have been set up by the CFS to support lesser known causes, such as helping migrant workers in distress and taking home-bound seniors on outings. Read more.

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News

CFS welcomes new Chairman Christine Ong, succeeding Laurence Lien

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Three individuals standing together in front of a screen, engaged in an activity or presentation.

(From left) Catherine Loh, Christine Ong and Laurence Lien.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) welcomes new Chairman Christine Ong on 1 April 2019, succeeding outgoing Chairman Laurence Lien. The handover was announced at the CFS Philanthropy Forum 2019 held on 18 March.

Signalling a new phase for CFS as the organisation looks to the future, Christine brings extensive experience spanning 30 years from the banking and finance industry, with key leadership positions in Citibank and UBS. She has long been involved in volunteering and mentoring in community regeneration, education and the arts. At UBS, she started a community affairs programme which raised $3 million to support various causes around the region including educating disadvantaged young people in East Java and saving children from being used as drug mules in the Mekong sub-region.

Christine is a current board member of Focus on the Family. She most recently served as Chairman of Arts House Limited and was previously on the board of The Esplanade Co Ltd (2015–2018).

Said Christine, “It is an honour for me to step into Laurence’s giant shoes at CFS. Laurence has not only built a successful organisation but his inclusive leadership has helped forge strong relationships with donors, partners and stakeholders.I am grateful for the opportunity to lead CFS which, over the years, has transformed how philanthropy is approached. As the organisation evolves to respond to an increasingly complex social landscape, I shall continue to build on the trust and meaningful relationships established between donors and charity partners to inspire even more giving and lead CFS into the next decade.”

Laurence was a founding director of CFS when it was launched in 2009, acting CEO from 2009–2013, and has served as its Chairman since 2013. He has been instrumental in introducing the concept of community philanthropy through donor advised funds to Singapore. He played a significant role in helping CFS grow to achieve 126 funds, raising over $134 million and disbursing over $71 million to over 400 charitable organisations in Singapore.

CFS CEO Catherine Loh remarked, “Under Laurence’s strategic leadership, CFS has grown tremendously and established itself as an organisation well-regarded for its community knowledge, professionalism and strategic approach to giving.”

Reflecting on his ten-year tenure at CFS, Laurence said, “When you start a venture in the non-profit sector, you don’t own anything. The rewards are not material but instead a personal satisfaction that comes from knowing you made a difference.”

He cited CFS’s phenomenal four-fold growth in 2018 as a fitting time for his departure, “CFS is really at an inflection point and it is a good time to leave on a high note. I am confident that with a good board and team already in place, and an experienced hand taking over as Chair, CFS will grow from strength to strength, and become a landmark in Singapore’s giving landscape.”

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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.

News

CFS Receives National Award – COVID-19 Resilience Certificate

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National Awards COVID-19 Investee: Celebrating outstanding achievements during the pandemic.

CFS has been awarded the COVID-19 Resilience Certificate, which recognises the contributions of organisations that played a vital role in addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19. Our CEO, Catherine Loh, received the award at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) Family National Day COVID-19 Investiture on October 10, 2023.

How We Pooled Resources for Singapore

As COVID-19 cases began to rise in February 2020, a member of the CFS board was deeply disturbed by reports of mistreatment towards healthcare workers. Anticipating the imminent health and economic challenges that lay ahead, CFS quickly recognised that action was needed.

“On February 11, 2020, we launched a Community Impact Fund which we named the “Sayang Sayang Fund”,” said Catherine Loh, CEO. “We felt this was the best and fastest way to respond to emerging needs as the crisis unfolded. It provided an easy way for donors to support those in need while CFS worked with sector partners to determine the type of support each community needed.”

The amount of support that poured in was heartening. We attained our initial target of $500,000 in just 10 days, and ultimately received $9.7 million from over 5,000 donors.

Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to collaborate with charities, ministries and social service agencies to deliver urgent assistance to those in need.

Making a Positive Impact on Affected Communities

In response to rapidly shifting circumstances, CFS acted through a wide array of initiatives and programmes, disbursing $9.7 million to aid 401,000 beneficiaries and 276 community organisations between 2020 to 2023. Here’s a glimpse into our efforts:

Healthcare Workers: Our initial action was to lift the spirits of nurses, doctors and ancillary healthcare workers by providing taxi vouchers and care packages sponsored by donations from the public and transport companies, ComfortDelGro, Gojek and Grab.

Elderly: When social distancing measures were mandated, the Sayang Sayang Fund (SSF) provided funds to several charity programmes to ensure the well-being of the elderly. These included educating them on infection control, reducing loneliness among elderly living alone, and ensuring low-income seniors had access to food despite disruptions in the supply chain.

Students: During school closure and home-based learning, students on financial assistance lost access to subsidised school meals. In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the SSF supplemented their allowances to ensure they continued to receive proper nutrition.

Migrant Workers: During the circuit breaker period, the SSF distributed mobile phone top-ups to migrant workers in lockdown who had insufficient balances in their accounts, so they could stay in contact with their families.

Rough Sleepers: Funds were disbursed to AMKFSC Community Services, Good News Community Services, Methodist Welfare Services, and New Hope Community Services to establish more shelters and assist in relocating rough sleepers to safe accommodations.

Learn more about the Sayang Sayang Fund.

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.

Opinion

Accessing Quality Education: A Boost for the Last Leg

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A photo of individuals wearing face masks, posing together for a group picture

As a follow-up to our last story, we now take a look at children as the next generation, and how we can empower them through philanthropy to be further educated.

Education is the great equaliser, as the old adage goes. Coined by American public education pioneer Horace Mann in 1848, education was seen as the tool for the disadvantaged to basically find better jobs and lift themselves out of poverty. For the last almost 200 years, that has remained largely true.

However, when an individual’s educational journey begins, factors such as the quality of education received and extracurricular resources have resulted in education itself being a source of inequality in society.

Which brings us to the maxim that “one has to spend money to make money”. In Singapore, preschool education, extra tuition, coaching lessons and post-secondary education all cost money (Dollars and Sense, 2022 and MoneySmart, 2022). Not every family will be able to afford that for their children.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) supports programmes which boost the pre-, primary and secondary school education of children and youth from challenging backgrounds. It is important, however, that these minds continue to be nurtured as far as possible; not just for the sake of the youth and their families, but also for the sake of society, in which these youths will hopefully become contributing members.

For the families, the primary reason is that the higher an educational qualification one has, the stronger one’s earning power (Ministry of Manpower, 2021), enabling them to break out of the poverty cycle.

At a societal level, Singapore needs to maintain its highly skilled and educated workforce, which is what helps to keep our economy so competitive on the global landscape (EDB, 2022). To do this, it is imperative, as maintained by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, that the relevant skills are imparted, including through tertiary and continued education (The Straits Times, 2022).

It is heartening to know that many donors with CFS have chosen and continue to support the tertiary education of youths: from financial assistance for living expenses for Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students and study grants at polytechnics to awards and scholarships at universities, and more.

The late President Mr Nathan himself was a staunch supporter of helping tertiary students in need. The S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) was set up 11 years ago and has supported over 1,600 students since, including students from ITE, various polytechnics, the National University of Singapore and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

“The SRNEUF believes in supporting youth from under-privileged backgrounds, giving them the chance to continue with their higher education so as to better realise their potential,” says Mr Bobby Chin, Grant Advisory Committee Chairman of the SRNEUF. “We are happy to have supported hundreds of youths over the years to further their education.”

One such SRNEUF beneficiary is SUSS student Iqbal, who aspires to be a social worker focusing on helping youth-at-risk or supporting the medical field. He shares that the study grant benefited him tremendously, helping his family with household expenses and allowing him to be more independent.

His cohort mate Pearlyn, also a SRNEUF beneficiary, reveals her dream to extend her help to society, after being inspired by the help from others that her family received during a crisis in 2020. On top of studying, she is tutoring primary school children to relieve the burden on her parents. She too expresses huge gratitude for the financial assistance from the SRNEUF.

Another CFS donor, who prefers anonymity, has been supporting ITE students with financial assistance for tuition fees, essential living expenses and even provided laptops. They also continued their support for ITE students who have gotten into polytechnics.

Jonathan Siong, one of their beneficiaries, shared: “When the pandemic hit, times were hard for many foreign students like myself, and my family was struggling. However, the donors helped me when I needed it the most. Without them, my education path would have stopped right at ITE.” He says that words cannot describe how thankful he is for their support and he hopes to become successful and in turn give back to the community.

Expressing her personal thanks to her benefactors, ITE alumna Chow Ying Shu, appreciates their contribution to her education as it helps to reduce her financial burdens, which in turn allows her to focus on her studies. She is currently pursuing her diploma in Hotel Management with their support. “This makes my goals that much more reachable,” she says, adding that their generosity will motivate her and serve as a reminder to always give back to society whenever she can in the future.

CFS appreciates all donors who are supporting youth from disadvantaged backgrounds in achieving their dreams and maximising their potential. Thanks to them, the future of the students as well as the Singaporean community looks a lot brighter.

To find out how you can support tertiary students from challenging backgrounds rise above adversity, please visit https://www.cf.org.sg/giving/ways-to-give/.

This article was written CFS Principal Consultant Reutens-Tan. He is an experienced sustainability advocate and practitioner, working closely with charities to build thriving communities, which he believes is key to a sustainable Singapore.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Dollars and Sense. (12 January 2022). How Much Do You Need To Afford A Full-Time Polytechnic Course In Singapore? https://dollarsandsense.sg/cost-guide-how-much-do-you-need-to-afford-a-full-time-polytechnic-course-in-singapore/  

Ministry of Manpower. (June 2021). Median Gross Monthly Income from Work (Including Employer CPF) of Full-Time Employed Residents Aged Fifteen Years and Over by Highest Qualification Attained, Age and Sex. https://stats.mom.gov.sg/iMAS_Tables1/LabourForce/LabourForce_2021/mrsd_2021LabourForce_T25.xlsx 

MoneySmart. (15 June 2022). NUS, NTU, SMU & Other Singapore University Degrees – How Much Do They Cost in 2022? https://blog.moneysmart.sg/education/singapore-university-education-cost/ 

Singapore Economic Development Board. (1 July 2022). World-class talent. https://www.edb.gov.sg/en/why-singapore/world-class-talent.html 

The Straits Times. (27 April 2022). Skills training must improve on 4 fronts for S’pore workforce to stay competitive: Chan Chun Sing. https://str.sg/w86n

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