Stories Of Impact
UBS Diversity in Abilities Concert – Celebrating the talents of children with special needs
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Stories Of Impact

Stories Of Impact

UBS Diversity in Abilities Concert – Celebrating the talents of children with special needs

John Doe
John Doe
Children dressed in bright costumes holding props while performing on stage

A joint initiative by UBS AG and the Community Foundation of Singapore, Diversity in Abilities is a stage production and art exhibition showcase to bring performing and visual arts lessons to special education schools in Singapore.

The aim was to motivate and inspire children with special needs to learn new skills and inculcate new hobbies through the arts. With the help of trained artists, students took a 16-week journey of learning and discovery of talents and achievements in film, music, dance, drama and visual arts.

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These kids were then invited to showcase their talents at an exhibition and concert, performing together with children of UBS employees. At the event, UBS employees also got involved as make-up artists, receptionists, ushers and auctioneers.

“UBS has been in Singapore for nearly 40 years and our community investments focus on education and entrepreneurship. The Diversity in Abilities arts programme is one such initiative. We hope that through our investment in these various initiatives, we can make a contribution to the success of Singapore as a community.” said Edmund Koh, Singapore Country Head and Asia Pacific Head of Wealth Management, UBS.

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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

Leading Foundation Teacher Award – Recognising outstanding teachers in early childhood and special needs education

John Doe
John Doe
a group of teachers posing with their awards

Winners of the 2016 Leading Foundation Teacher Award together with representatives from the Leading Foundation, National Education of Singapore, Ministry of Education and Community Foundation of Singapore.

The Leading Foundation Teacher Award was established in 2014 by Lim Siong Guan and Joanne Lim – co-authors of ‘The Leader, The Teacher & You’ and ‘Winning with Honour’ – to honour passionate and dedicated teachers in early childhood and special needs education. 

Organised by the National Institute of Education (NIE) and managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the Leading Foundation Teacher Award is the first award in Singapore to recognise excellence in early childhood and special needs educators. To date, a total of 25 teachers have received the award. 

Said Joanne Lim, co-founder of the Leading Foundation: “Coming from a family of teachers, we knew firsthand how much hard work, dedication, sacrifice and passion educators put in to make a positive impact on the lives of their students so we wanted to honour those who embody these values. After we published the first book, we established the Leading Foundation with the Community Foundation of Singapore. CFS went on to identify the lack of recognition for teachers in early childhood and special needs education and so the Leading Foundation Teacher Award was established to plug this gap.”

It is often said that the best teachers teach from the heart, not from a book – and that is exactly what has motivated recipients of the Leading Foundation Teacher Award who often go beyond the call of duty to make a difference in the lives of their students. To date, 21 teachers have received the award.

For allied educator Tutek Alauyah Amir who won the award in 2015, she makes the extra effort to put in place a comprehensive support system to ease special needs students’ first step into primary school.

As for fellow award recipient preschool teacher Jenny Tan, she believes that every child is different and hence tailors her teaching instructions to cater to every child’s learning style, needs and pace.

Another allied educator – 2016 award recipient Jeyaram Kadivan – laboured tirelessly with his visually impaired student to overcome daunting learning hurdles in secondary school. His support enabled the student to score seven distinctions at O levels.

For these exceptional educators, it is hoped that the Leading Foundation Teacher Award will spur them on to greater heights in their field of work, as well as inspire others to excel like them.

Photo: National Institute of Education, Singapore

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Stories Of Impact

Heart Of Goodness: The Vocal Prowess Of Stefanie Yuen Thio

John Doe
John Doe
a person standing on a boardwalk in front of a glass dome building

She stands out for her irreverence. Her saucy humour. Her no-holds-barred views on a gamut of issues from cryptocurrencies to shady KTV business owners. However, right now, flanked by vibrant Pop Art in her living room and two energetic dogs, Stefanie Yuen Thio is in “pensive mode”. In fact, she is downright disturbed.

As part of the Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) to tackle types of online harm, the corporate lawyer has just come from a discussion about the growing harassment women face. “It’s not just sexual grooming and revenge porn,” she says. “Women, more than men, face a higher incidence of gender-based abuse on the internet such as cyberstalking, trolling and violent threats, and teenage girls are even more vulnerable. 

“We need to take a stand. It’s time the community took control,” she says. AfA is a government-led initiative, tapping youths, tech companies and academics, as well as corporate figures such as Yuen Thio, to come up with ways to make the online world a safer space. Foremost is to raise public awareness of the need for it, as victims typically have little idea what to do. 

Other goals are to create a code of best practice, to offer assistance and to scrutinise how social media is shaping online behaviour as well as mental wellness. A recent study from Nanyang Technological University, for example, found that the more time we spend on Facebook, the greater our risk of suffering from depression. 

A Voice For The Underprivileged

Yuen Thio knows well how social media can define us. Her voice is regularly heard on LinkedIn, where she has over 13,000 followers and was ranked one of Singapore’s top voices in 2020. She can also be heard on the BBC, where she is a guest commentator. Her tongue-in-cheek posts can be uninhibited, sometimes raising eyebrows and drawing flak. But this is not distracting Yuen Thio, who is clearly comfortable marching to the beat of her own drum, from championing the causes she believes in and sparking conversations that could galvanise change.

The online harms alliance, launched in July, is the latest of Yuen Thio’s advocacy work outside of her day job as joint managing partner at TSMP Law Corporation, a boutique corporate-law practice. She is also bringing her energy and savvy to the pandemic’s exigencies: as Singapore battled Covid-19, she has been driving efforts to help frontline workers and those hard hit by the cratering of the economy. 

“I read a story about an ambulance driver who was turned away from a chicken rice stall and about nurses who could not get a taxi home,” she says. It dredged up memories of SARS, when hospital staff were shunned during the 2003 outbreak for fear of them somehow carrying the virus. “I thought f— that! We’re not doing that again,” she says.

Empowering Others To Help

So, early on in the crisis, she helped put in motion the Sayang Sayang Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), a nonprofit that promotes philanthropy. Yuen Thio, who sits on the board of CFS, seeded the fund with a $20,000 gift. Managed by CFS, the Sayang Sayang Fund has since ballooned to over $9.6 million and supported more than 359,302 people in the Republic. 

Her law firm, too, has stepped up. With many of its staff working remotely via laptops, TSMP is donating unused desktops to the needy. The firm, which sets aside 10 per cent of annual profits for charitable giving, has been sponsoring meals and care packs for hospital workers. And, in Cheng San-Seletar constituency — its MP is Nadia Ahmad Samdin, a former TSMP lawyer — its staff have befriended and accompanied seniors to get vaccinations. 

This hands-on volunteering is in addition to the pro bono work the firm does. All its lawyers are encouraged to do 25 hours per year, to improve access to justice for the under-served. The firm takes a special interest in cases where migrant workers are treated badly and works with groundup initiatives such as Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, Transient Workers Count Too and It’s Raining Raincoats

Yuen Thio, who was an advisory board member for the NUS Centre for Pro Bono & Clinical Legal Education from 2018 to 2020, recalls a tea that TSMP organised for foreign domestic workers. “We talked about their rights. And so many of them cried because nobody had ever looked at them with much humanity,” she says.

The Law Firm That Gives

The firm has also established the TSMP Law Foundation to allow more structured giving, something Yuen Thio is hoping to prod more wealthy Singaporeans into doing. With husband Thio Shen Yi, who co-founded TSMP with his mother, the couple has created a #GivingBack Foundation through CFS, which helps individuals set up and manage funds and grants. The foundation also works with over 400 charity partners in Singapore. 

Through these plans, she hopes philanthropy will be less ad hoc and will become more a part of the Singaporean DNA. As part of their legacy gifting outreach, for instance, CFS is encouraging everyone to leave something in their wills to charity, be it properties, equities, art or wine. But beyond that, she wants Singaporeans to start on their philanthropic path earlier in life. 

“Charity should start early and not only after you die,” says Yuen Thio. CFS can help set up foundations within as little as 24 hours and is reaching out to the well-off through private bankers and family offices. 

She also advocates getting the next generation involved to further institutionalise giving. “The tragedy of this generation is a sense of purposelessness. There are too many safety nets,” reckons Yuen Thio, who has a son studying in London. 

However, she notes that the youth of today also have an altruistic streak and can be swayed by causes such as climate change and social inclusion. Their motivations, compared to “my generation whose goal was to make money first”, will undoubtedly shape the future of philanthropy.

What is also firing her up at the moment is how women are reshaping philanthropy. She describes the no-strings attached, big-ticket giving by MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos, as inspiring. In her opinion, “…Women are more concerned about impact, not control. We look at needs and, in my experience, are much more ready to open our wallets when a cause resonates with us. We tend to give from the heart, men from the head. Men are less emotional, they think of data and longevity of legacy,” she says.

Another generous giver is Melinda French, the ex-wife of billionaire Bill Gates. Both Scott and French are donating to causes that empower women and boost education — things that Yuen Thio believes could turn the tide for gender equality. Reflecting further on how these women have come into their own after their divorces, she says, “Sometimes, when the wife has lived in the shadow of her husband, you need a marriage to break down for a woman to really shine.” 

Strength in Solitude

For herself, she has found solo travel to be empowering. Yuen Thio embarked on her first one three years ago and chose Beirut. “I had never lived by myself or had my own space. I wanted to feel how it was to be my own person in the world, out of my comfort zone,” she says.

Armed with her telephoto lens, the photography enthusiast made her way to the Lebanese capital and was thoroughly struck by the city’s contrasts. A memory of the bombed-out Holiday Inn rubbing battered shoulders with the palatial Intercontinental Phoenicia stands out for her, attestation to the resilience and durability of the human spirit.

Women, more than men, face a higher incidence of gender-based abuse on the internet such as cyberstalking, trolling and violent threats, and teenage girls are even more vulnerable. We need to take a stand. It’s time the community took control.

When she turned 50, she packed her bags for a solo trip to Bordeaux and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She chose the wine region in the southwest of France because she speaks French, and the concentration camps in Poland to try and comprehend the past. “I wanted to understand human history,” she says, adding that we shouldn’t run away from confronting terrible things. Walking through the extermination chambers, she was shaken by the banality of evil. “I remember thinking, ‘This is what evil feels like. It creeps up on us.’” 

Covid-19 has halted her travels, both for work and for leisure, but it has also given her time to slow down, connect more, write more. 

“I’ve always liked writing,” says Yuen Thio, who spent one holiday during her university days as a cub reporter for The Straits Times Life!. Whether advocating for clients, the under-served, or simply musing on an issue that moves her, Yuen Thio makes an impact with her inimitable, eloquent voice.

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

This article was originally published in A Magazine here. Permission required for reproduction.

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Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund – Training and placing marginalised individuals into stable jobs

John Doe
John Doe
People in masks and aprons preparing food in a restaurant.

The Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF) was launched in 2019 by The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which provides vocational training and socio-emotional support for marginalised individuals in Singapore before placing them into jobs.

CIFs are flagship programmes established by CFS in partnership with charities to address unmet needs or under-supported social issues in Singapore. It takes a ground-up approach to understand the needs of care recipients and outcomes they care about to ensure that they would truly benefit from these programmes.

LIFT is designed to leverage the expertise of social enterprises in terms of job coaching and job matching. These programmes support persons with disabilities, persons recovering from mental illnesses, disadvantaged women and youth-at-risk who face challenges finding jobs and keeping them. 

In partnership with Bettr Barista and Project Dignity, LIFT saw 115 people receiving training at Bettr Barista Coffee Academy or Dignity Kitchen from April 2020 to March 2021. Ninety-one participants completed the training, and of those who had completed the course, 73 people were successfully hired, with 55 managing to remain employed for more than three months.

To support the LIFT Community Impact Fund, visit here. Read the media release here.

 

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”。

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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.

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The Straits Times: The ST Guide To… giving to charity

John Doe
John Doe
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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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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