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Colabs: doing more for persons with disabilities
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Colabs: doing more for persons with disabilities

John Doe
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a group of people sitting around tables

As persons with disabilities reach age 18 and exit the school system, they face new life challenges, including living their desired life and gaining access to care and support. With a keen eye on identifying opportunities to improve the lives of these individuals, we kicked off the Colabs Disability series which focused on engagement pathways and employment through catalysing cross-sector collaboration.

As part of the series, participants were recently invited to the MINDS’ Idea Employment Development Centre to understand what a sheltered employment workshop in Singapore would look like. Made up of a diverse group, including social enterprises, corporates, philanthropic institutions, government agencies and non-profits, the group bonded over a common desire to learn and do more for persons with disabilities.

The group took part in various work stations at MINDS, where they interacted and worked alongside their clients. On a daily basis, clients were engaged in a wide range of activities, from seeding, retail, craft and kitchen work, to the packing of edible gifts, bottled water, and disposable earphones.

Next, participants gathered to share their aspirations for persons with disabilities, and their ideas on how the current model of sheltered employment could be improved. For many in the room, it was an eye-opening experience and a great chance to explore opportunities to contribute and collaborate.

Within the context of the sheltered workshop, companies and philanthropists can:

Create greater variety in jobs in workshops, or increase the number of jobs available, by connecting sheltered workshops with potential employers to explore and implement job re-design matched to the abilities of persons with disabilities, or encouraging companies to outsource certain tasks to persons with disabilities (e.g. event decoration, gift preparation, logistics). Much of this can be enabled by education and outreach to potential partners.

Provide a variety of social activities outside of work tasks in sheltered employment workshops, through partnerships with existing non-profits.

Improve the financial sustainability of running sheltered workshops by funding wages or subsidies, providing pro-bono services or skill-based volunteering to sheltered workshops in the marketing of existing products such as bottled water, food and gifts.

Companies and philanthropists interested in understanding how to work together with MINDS can contact the Idea Employment Development Centre to explore possibilities.

If you’re interested in what can be done to support persons with disabilities and their caregivers, the DesignSingapore Council has published an ethnographic study documenting how persons with disabilities live, work and interact with society, along with an illustrated overview of services supporting persons with disabilities. 

Some suggestions for collaborative solutions – based on the collective feedback of over 80 participants in the series – are outlined in the Colabs publication ‘A Call for Collaborative Giving: Bridging the Divide for Persons with Disabilities’ which can be downloaded here.

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Stories Of Impact

Retired doctor donates $1m to start new donor-advised fund

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John Doe
two elderly climbing up stairs

Dr Chua, a retired doctor, 80, gave $1 million to start the Bamboo Lotus Fund with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in July after being inspired by another retiree’s donation of $1 million to start a charitable trust that he did the same thing. 

Describing himself as an “ordinary” general practitioner, and not a “highly paid medical specialist”, Dr Chua said: “I hope (my example) dispels the myth that only prominent individuals or corporate organisations can make significant donations. “To me, $1 million is a significant amount that will get others to notice and start to consider how much they can give too.”

Dr Chua, who has a daughter, said that helping others comes “naturally” to him and his family. Over the years, they have given “small contributions” to charity. But when he turned 80 this year and felt he may not “have many years left”, he decided to help in a more substantial way.

He plans to help disadvantaged women and families, and the arts and heritage through his new fund.

The retired doctor says bamboo, which signifies resilience, is his favourite plant, while lotus is one of the characters of his wife’s Chinese name. Thus, the Bamboo Lotus Fund was born.

It is one of 165 donor-advised funds under the Community Foundation. Donors pledge at least $200,000 to set up a fund. The foundation manages the money, advises donors on the needs in the community and disburses the funds according to their wishes.

CFS chief executive officer Catherine Loh said the number of donor-advised funds started to grow exponentially several years ago. At the start of 2018, there were 110 such funds. The biggest donors have given more than $20 million to set up their funds.

It took 10 years for the CFS to attract $100 million in donations for all the donor-advised funds set up by various individuals or companies. But it took just the past three years for that sum to hit $200 million, Ms Loh said.

The CFS was ranked third in a report on the 10 largest philanthropic foundations here.

Ms Loh said: “Through times of crisis like the pandemic, individuals have become more open and willing to give more sustainably to make their giving more meaningful.”

A growing awareness of the CFS’ track record has also attracted more donors to set up such funds.

They include successful professionals, retirees or individuals who are semi-retired, and companies.

They give to a wide range of causes, with mental health and the environment among those growing in interest, Ms Loh said.

Since its formation in 2008, the CFS has given out $122 million in grants to a variety of needs.

Dr Chua said: “I hope that this will inspire others in my profession or people of my age, to also donate their money before we pass on.”

To find out more about Legacy Giving, visit us at Legacy Giving or contact us here.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Stories Of Impact

Reading Odyssey – Building confidence and motivation through reading

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John Doe
Children sitting in a circle, engrossed in a book, fostering a love for reading and learning together.

With recent changes to school-based assessments in primary schools, Singapore’s education system is looking beyond mere academic results to appreciate the importance of the joy of learning. In this vein, Reading Odyssey – a community-based project by Educational Psychology Service, SHINE Children & Youth Services – has been empowering disadvantaged children to enjoy reading with meaning, knowledge and understanding via this novel programme since 2013.

Supported by multiple donors from the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), Reading Odyssey currently collaborates with various community partners to run in seven centres across Singapore and serves 120 children from Kindergarten Two to Primary Six, many from lower income families. “Many of these children are two to three years behind their peers in their reading abilities and have limited learning support and exposure. They usually have low confidence and a poor academic self-image,” says Magdalen Loh, Reading Odyssey Captain and Lead Learning Specialist.

One of the root causes, adds Magdalen, is lack of exposure. Due to complex issues in their family backgrounds, these children do not have wide learning opportunities, or have difficulties accessing help.

Unlike academically-focused tuition centres, Reading Odyssey focuses on inspiring interest in reading and offering opportunities for exposure and building confidence. Another key objective is to help children understand the meaning of words and knowledge. Here, reading is used as a tool to expose the child to the wider world. Genres are intentionally varied; children are exposed to topics, from robotics to the environment, that may be beyond their scope of interests. Materials are targeted to each child’s ability, and the programme incorporates a guided reading approach involving helpful guided questions for volunteers and children to discuss.

Improving a child’s confidence and inner motivation may not be an easy task, but with time and dedication, the programme has seen rewarding results. In the past years, more than 70% of participants showed an increase in confidence from observable behaviours across its centres, and more than half showed improvements in their reading age or reading levels. “Many of the children are motivated to come regularly. They want to learn more once they know they have improved,” says Magdalen.

Part of the programme’s success is due to its volunteer-driven model and close partnership with the local communities to identify those in need. Each child is matched one-on-one with a trained volunteer, who partners the child to work purposefully through the text and stories. Such exposure and engagement, says Magdalen, helps build confidence and increases their understanding of the different topics.

“With confidence in learning, even if you are a weaker student, you dare to approach someone older and not feel embarrassed. With inner confidence and motivation, you will find ways to help you improve,” she expresses.

With increased demand from the ground, Reading Odyssey is looking to scale its centres from seven to ten by 2021, and increase its reach by 50% to 180 children. Plans in the works include formalising its volunteer training, events to deepen a sense of its community and developing new games and testing tools to enhance the programme’s impact.

Ultimately, the goal is to offer an avenue for disadvantaged children to access opportunities beyond their personal circumstance. Magdalen expresses, “We want to do our part to use stories to help children ask questions and think about the wider world. When their motivation is innate, they can help themselves in the long run.”

Photos: SHINE Children & Youth Services

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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

#MyGivingJourney X Ravina Kirpalani: Taking family philanthropy to new heights

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John Doe
portrait of ravina

CFS launched the #MyGivingJourney series, which features extraordinary women in Singapore and their efforts in philanthropy. Our second story features Ravina Kirpalani, Head of Philanthropy at the Enpee Group Foundation, board member of Beyond Social Services and volunteer at HCA Hospice Care. 

Mention hospice and most people picture the atmosphere to be heavy or depressing. Instead, it is the exact opposite, says Ravina Kirpalani. Ravina has been volunteering at HCA Hospice Care for over 11 years and rates it as one of the most rewarding experiences in her giving journey.   

“I have learnt so much from the patients through their positive attitudes, amazing sense of acceptance and loving interactions. They have a zest for life and want to enjoy whatever time they have left,” she says. “The staff are also wonderful and caring and I leave each volunteer session so much fuller and more joyful than I did when I walked in.” 

Spending time with the terminally ill is just one of the many causes Ravina has embraced. As head of philanthropy at the Enpee Group Foundation, she oversees its community work, which stretches from Africa to India and Southeast Asia. The Enpee Group was founded in 1961 by Ravina’s father-in-law in Nigeria and has grown into a $300 million conglomerate.  

The Foundation kicked off in 2001 with community initiatives in Nigeria and India, where the group’s manufacturing plants are located. It also collaborates with charities such as the Tulsi Chanrai Foundation which does extensive work in healthcare, through its Mission for Vision, Mission for Primary Health and Mission for Water programmes in Nigeria. 

In Singapore, the Foundation supports several educational initiatives. It funds scholarships and bursaries at the National University of Singapore in the areas of solar energy research, environmental studies and medicine. It has also begun sponsoring 10 students who are studying for their nursing certificates at the Institute of Technical Education. And in 2021, it set up a scholarship for three students to complete their BSc in Nursing practice. The Foundation also grants aid to outstanding individuals from India and Nigeria to study for a Masters in Public Administration at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP). 

To further deepen their philanthropic giving in Singapore, Ravina and her husband Sanjay set up a Donor-Advised Fund with CFS in 2020. This supports smaller charities including the Reading Odyssey programme by Shine Children and Youth Services, which focuses on children from disadvantaged backgrounds with learning difficulties, the Kids Excel enrichment programme run by Catch them Young at partner schools which targets disengaged primary students from needy families, and the Family Justice Support Scheme by Law Society Pro bono Services. 

“Education and healthcare are our primary focus because of the ripple effect,” says Ravina. Thanks to the Foundation’s assistance, a student who lost his father to brain cancer when he was just five years old was able to go to medical school and become a doctor. The Foundation is also working with one of the six LKYSPP alumni that it has helped to date on an adolescent health initiative in Nigeria. Aside from this, Ravina finds time to contribute to Beyond Social Services, a charity that helps youths from less privileged backgrounds break away from the poverty cycle.  

For Ravina, giving back is an integral part of her family legacy. Growing up in Hong Kong, she saw how her mum volunteered at various charities such as the Duchess of Kent Children’s Hospital.  Her mum was also an active member of the Hong Kong Indian Women’s Club, where she did welfare work for the elderly and orphans. Ravina, who now lives in Singapore, is building on that tradition and taking the family’s philanthropy to new heights. 

Begin your own journey of giving with CFS. Read more about #MyGivingJourney series here.

This article was written by Sunita Sue Leng, a former financial analyst and journalist, who believes that the written word can be a force for good. She hopes to someday write something worth plagiarising.

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Stories Of Impact

Seniors Colabs learning journey #2: Wellness Kampung – entrusting the community to care for itself

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John Doe
Group of individuals engaging in a leisure dance routine outdoors.

On the second learning journey for Seniors Colabs, a small group of participants met early on a weekday morning to observe how a community space called Wellness Kampung in Chong Pang estate can be designed and run by residents.

Set up in April 2016, Wellness Kampung is a network of three activity centres in Chong Pang, Nee Soon Central and Nee Soon East. The network was launched as a partnership between Yishun Health, St. Luke’s ElderCare and Nee Soon Grassroot Organisation with one simple belief – that taking charge of one’s health is easier with the support of the community.

The day’s programme began with an hour-long exercise session led by Madam Aneesa, 49, a resident who volunteered to learn and teach the Wednesday morning resistance band class. By mid-morning, the centre was a hive of activity as an army of ladies cooked up a storm in the kitchen, while at the other end of the room, residents recorded their blood pressure readings and compared their daily step count with pedometers. The centre was bright and airy, with doors on opposite sides of the void deck kept wide open. Residents came in and out, on their way to various parts of the neighbourhood.

Mr Woo Yew Kah, Centre Manager and its only paid staff, explained that residents are in charge of what happens and how the centre is run. “They have the key and they open and close the centre every day. Only when they quarrel, then I have to mediate,” he explains with a laugh.

Colabs participants were impressed with the high level of trust between management and community, which they felt played a key role in empowering the residents and sustaining the programmes over the long-run. Some also observed that the centre’s wellness goals are not overtly prescribed but rather seamlessly integrated into day-to-day activities, which made leading a healthy lifestyle more natural and enjoyable.

The learning journey presented new insights on how shifts in perspectives by funders and policy-makers can create a conducive environment for community-driven efforts. Leveraging the strength of individuals, such ground-up initiatives would then able to meet the needs of seniors more effectively.

Colabs is a philanthropic initiative by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. It drives collaboration by bringing together the public, private and social sectors to tackle complex social issues. It enables philanthropists, businesses, non-profits and sector experts to collectively build insights and co-create solutions for lasting change.

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
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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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