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CFS Chairperson receives National Award for COVID-19 – The Public Service Medal
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CFS Chairperson receives National Award for COVID-19 – The Public Service Medal

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The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is honoured to announce that our Chairperson, Ms. Christine Ong, has received the National Awards (COVID-19) under the category of The Public Service Medal (COVID-19). This award recognises the Chairperson’s leadership and CFS’s efforts to serve the Singapore community during the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, CFS has provided assistance to those in need through the distribution of grants to individuals and organisations. Under Christine’s direction, CFS disbursed a total of $57 million from March 2020 to December 2022, with $32 million going to the social & welfare and health sectors.

One of our key initiatives was the Sayang Sayang Fund. Established in February 2020 as an emergency response fund to support frontline healthcare workers, the Sayang Sayang Fund expanded its support to a range of vulnerable groups and launched nine initiatives. With the help of 891 grantee organizations, CFS delivered resources and support to nearly 400,000 beneficiaries with the $9.6 million raised from multiple platforms, including a successful campaign on Giving.sg that collected $1 million in public donations. The Sayang Sayang Fund continued to introduce new initiatives in 2021 to support ground-up groups and the community health sector in Singapore.

Thanks to Christine and the Board, CFS has become a leading grant-maker in the country during a time of increased community needs. The CFS team has risen to the challenge, working together to address complex issues exacerbated by the pandemic. This award recognizes the collective effort and represents a proud moment for everyone at CFS.

CFS remains committed to excellence and will continue to strive for greater impact in serving the community. Further information on the National Awards (COVID-19) and the recipients is available here.

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CFS wins two awards at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2019

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CFS posing with their awards at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2019

CFS wins two awards at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2019: The Charity Governance Award – Special Commendation for Governance and Management – and the Charity Transparency Award

CFS is honoured to have won the Charity Governance Award – Special Commendation for Governance and Management – as well as the Charity Transparency Award. Conferred by the Charity Council, we were privileged to be amongst a select line-up of outstanding charities that were recognised for exemplary disclosure and transparency practices at the Charity Governance Awards dinner on 3 December 2019.

About the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2019

 A total of 67 charities, including CFS, were conferred the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards for their overall excellent transparency and governance practices.

In addition, CFS was among the seven charities that won the Charity Governance Award

The Charity Transparency Award was first launched in 2016, to recognise charities with good disclosure practices that the Charity Transparency Framework recommends.

Inaugurated in 2012, the Charity Governance Award recognises charities  that have adopted the highest standards of governance, in line with the Code of Governance for Charities and IPCs. 

Exemplary governance and management practices

CFS is governed by a board of eminent professionals, selected via a rigorous process, who serve pro bono. They work closely with CFS’s management to steer the organisation in realising our strategic vision.  Our Board has set up several committees, with recognised experts as members, to ensure the organisation is run optimally with transparency, aligned with our mission and purpose. Since our inception, CFS has continuously invested significant resources to exceed expectations in governance, compliance and management. Part of the training process for board and staff is to highlight the importance of acting according to the highest standards. 

Sharing our lessons

Over the past years, our Board and staff have worked hard to ensure that we maintain these high standards across the organisation and in daily work. CFS’s steady growth in the last decade is testament to the trust donors and partners have placed on us, as well as the dedication of our staff.

CFS is honoured to attain this accolade and will be happy to share our experience other charities going forward. We found it especially useful to work closely with our auditors, who have provided valuable guidance and support. Charities can also draw on the helpful resources provided by the Commissioner of Charities and the Charity Council in Singapore, which we highly recommend. 

Looking ahead 

We are thankful to our partners and donors who trust our professional expertise to meet their giving goals. We are so grateful to our Board of Directors and committee members for their dedicated oversight and support.

“Ours is a business built on trust.  Good governance is integral to our success and that of our stakeholders. We will not rest on our laurels but continue to improve and innovate to ensure continued confidence in CFS,” said Catherine Loh, CEO, CFS.

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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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More philanthropy funds focusing on climate change needed: Reports

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To support green causes and efforts to further climate action, Mr David Heng, chief executive of a private equity fund, set up the Mind the Gap 200 – Sustainable Earth fund in 2019.

It is part of a project Mr Heng, who is in his 50s, undertook with nine friends and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The fund, which supports charities and programmes that address some of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, is one of the few set up by philanthropists to tackle climate change.

The cause attracts less than 2 per cent of philanthropic giving globally, according to global non-governmental organisation ClimateWorks Foundation.

A recently published 110-page guide by investment bank UBS is looking to change this by showing donors, philanthropists and investors how to fill the climate funding gap, and the benefits and impacts of “green philanthropy”.

The report, called On Thin Ice, comprises insights and tips from more than 40 experts in the areas of sustainability and investment.

The report also emphasises the importance of prioritising climate funding since the dangerous impacts of climate change will cut across other focus areas such as children’s health, mental well-being, inequality and food security.

“While the need to engage directly with climate change is now recognised, many who may have the means to take action are unclear on how to best use these resources to achieve the greatest impact,” said Ms Hannah Wood, one of the authors of the report.

Ms Wood, programme director of UBS Optimus Foundation, added that areas that need funding include the energy transition, agriculture and climate research.

“Investors may wish to consider investing in key sectors such as renewable energy and carbon capture, energy efficiency and smart mobility.”

Shifting to renewable energy and scaling up research are expensive. The International Energy Agency estimates that 70 per cent of clean energy investments over the next decade need to come from private investors, consumers and financiers.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 deg C by 2030 will require an extra US$4 trillion ($5.5 trillion) investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure every year.

Beyond money, philanthropists and investors can also use their influence as shareholders to push for positive environmental change in companies – especially for firms that are economically important but polluting, added Ms Wood.

ClimateWorks Foundation said that between 2019 and 2020, overall philanthropic giving grew by 3 per cent while climate funding grew by 14 per cent.

Mr Heng is the founder and CEO of $405 million impact investment fund ABC World Asia.

Impact investment funds aim to generate positive environmental and social impact while bringing good returns to investors.

For Mind the Gap 200, people can donate to it through the Community Foundation of Singapore, a charity that encourages and helps to enable philanthropy in Singapore by matching donors’ interests with various causes.

Ms Catherine Loh, chief executive of Community Foundation of Singapore, said interest in green philanthropy picked up here when the Singapore Green Plan 2030 – a movement to advance the national agenda for sustainable development – was announced early last year.

From this year to 2024, the foundation will prioritise five issues for grant-making, and one of them is climate and environment.

This covers environmental conservation efforts, research into climate-related phenomena and climate solutions, added Ms Loh.

“The inclusion of this as an area of focus stems from the recognition that a healthy natural environment is conducive to the well-being of a community,” she said.

She cited the Khurana Nurture Foundation, which supports the Institute of Technical Education’s green ambassadors, training them to be the next generation of environmental activists.

The philanthropic organisation also helps people with disabilities pursue a career in urban farming.

Those philanthropy efforts together address climate action, education, social welfare and jobs.

Charitable family foundations The Straits Times contacted declined to be interviewed because they prefer to keep a low profile about their philanthropic work.

Ms Wood said: “There are big returns to be made from environmental philanthropic and sustainable investments, and as the pace of change continues to speed up, the wisest will be out ahead of the curve driving the transition.”

This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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Fewer homeless people sleeping on S’pore streets last year; city area has highest number

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The number of homeless people in Singapore fell slightly last year, at a time when homelessness was on the rise in many countries amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the issue of homelessness also became less visible, as more people who would have slept on the streets went to stay at temporary shelters.
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.

The second nationwide street count of the homeless here found 1,036 people last year – 7 per cent less than the 1,115 people during the first such count in 2019.

That first nationwide street count has been described as a landmark study of an issue that was hidden from public discourse until recent years.

While the overall number has fallen slightly, where the homeless make their bed for the night has also changed.

The second street count found that those sleeping on the streets fell by 41 per cent from 1,050 in 2019 to 616 last year, while those staying at a temporary shelter for the homeless shot up from 65 to 420 in the same time period.

Dr Ng Kok Hoe, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, led a team of researchers at the school’s Social Inclusion Project to do the street count. They were aided by over 200 volunteers who pounded the streets, including combing 12,000 blocks of flats, late at night between February and April last year to count the number of people sleeping in public spaces.

The data on the number staying at temporary shelters for the homeless, which was provided by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), was included for the first time in last year’s count for a fuller understanding of the state of homelessness here.

The 78-page report was released on Thursday (Aug 11). The project was not commissioned by the Government and was funded by the Community Foundation of Singapore, Dr Ng said.

He said government agencies and volunteers reached out to those sleeping rough during the circuit breaker in 2020 to refer them to shelters and many of the homeless, who were also concerned about their health and safety, decided to go into one.

Some religious and charity groups opened their premises for the homeless for the night, as demand for places in such Safe Sound Sleeping Places soared. Two new transitional shelters, which offer a longer stay, also started operation in January last year, the report said.

These factors led to more staying at shelters and fewer on the streets, Dr Ng said.

From the second street count, the homeless were found sleeping in most parts of Singapore, from Bedok to Jurong West to Yishun. But more of them were found in larger, older and poorer neighbourhoods.

Some 72 persons were found sleeping in the City area, or downtown, which has the largest number of homeless persons.

The city area, or downtown, has the largest number of homeless people, though it fell last year from the 2019 count.

Most of the homeless are elderly men and the report pointed out that few women sleep on the streets due to safety concerns.

Last year’s count found a sharp decline in those sleeping rough in commercial buildings, like shopping malls and office blocks, and more slept at places like void decks, parks and playgrounds.

The report pointed out that while the pandemic triggered their admission into a shelter, the homeless person’s housing woes started long before Covid-19 struck.

Highly subsidised public rental housing will always be the last safety net for the most vulnerable, Dr Ng said.

However, he singled out the design of the Joint Singles Scheme, which is under the public rental housing scheme, as a “significant contributing factor to homelessness”. This is because two singles, who are often strangers, share a tiny HDB rental flat which usually have no bedrooms, and the lack of privacy or personal space may lead to conflict.

And some would rather sleep on the streets instead, he said.

The HDB and the Ministry of National Development (MND) recognise the challenges some have applying for or sharing a rental flat and they have been reviewing and adjusting the Joint Singles Scheme in recent years, the MSF said in a statement in response to the street count.

For example, since December last year (2021), the HDB and MND started a pilot scheme where social service agencies match tenants with similar preferences and habits to share a flat. Under this pilot, singles can apply for a public rental flat by themselves, without having to find a flatmate first.

Flats under this pilot come with partitions installed

Applicants’ eligibility and rent are assessed individually.

The HDB and MND are assessing the effectiveness of this pilot project to see whether to scale it up over time, the statement said.

The MSF said there has been a steady and collective progress in whole-of-society efforts to reach out to and support rough sleepers, to help them off the streets and into shelters.

It cited the 57-member Partners Engaging and Empowering Rough Sleepers (Peers) Network, which comprises government agencies, religious groups and charities working together to ensure better coordination and synergy in the delivery of services to help the homeless.

The network’s partners have set up Safe Sound Sleeping Places. There are now about  20 such Places, which shelter about 100 homeless individuals. In addition, there are currently six transitional shelters serving families and about 270 individuals.

Since April 2020, over 680 homeless individuals who stayed at the various shelters have moved on to longer-term housing.

And since April this year, the MSF has been working with partners from the Peers Network and academic advisers to plan regular street counts. The first such coordinated street count will take place by the end of the year.

It said: “The street count will help us to collectively better understand the scale and geographical spread of rough sleeping in Singapore and render coordinated support to rough sleepers in need.”

Who were the homeless during the pandemic

Long-term homeless (those who were homeless before the pandemic) Newly homeless (those who had not slept rough before the pandemic) Transnational homeless (Singaporeans who live in Indonesia and Malaysia but travel to Singapore for work)
Sex  More men than women • Mix of men and women • Almost all men
Age • From 30s to 70s • From 30s to 70s • Mostly in their 50s
Family relationships • Almost all divorced, separated or never married • Having past conflict and estrangement, with many having lost contact with their family • Almost all divorced, separated or never married • Family relationships distant and strained, but connection remains • Long-term drift and overseas travel • Some had a spouse and young children in their adoptive countries whom they are still connected to
Work and finances • Low-wage and insecure jobs • Extreme poverty • Low-wage and insecure jobs, with a few having had better paying jobs in the past • Difficulty meeting basic needs • Regular border crossings for low-wage and insecure jobs in Singapore • A few did informal work outside Singapore • Low income
Housing histories • Lost matrimonial home or never purchased housing • Encountered barriers in public rental system • Episodes of low- cost market rentals • Lost matrimonial home or never purchased housing • Moved frequently to stay with family, friends • In low-cost market rental units • Lived in Malaysia or Indonesia • Encountered difficulties obtaining public housing in Singapore for non-citizen family members
Rough sleeping • From a few months to many years • No more than a few days when displaced during the pandemic • A mix of experiences, from rough sleeping to staying in homeless shelters
How they entered a shelter* • Found by volunteers or field workers while rough sleeping during pandemic • Some self-referrals • Self-referrals when pandemic disrupted housing arrangements • Most were stopped at immigration checkpoints and directed to a shelter after border closures**

*Homelessness counts usually include both rough sleepers (primary homelessness) and persons in homeless shelters (secondary homelessness).

**Those entering Singapore from Malaysia just before the borders were closed were identified as having no housing and referred for assistance so they could comply with Covid-19 rules on staying indoors

Table: STRAITS TIMES GRAPHICS  Source: LEE KUAN YEW SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY

If you would like to know more about the Sayang Sayang Fund, please visit here. This article was originally published in The Straits Times here. Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.
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Events

Collaborative Giving to build Community Mental Health Champions

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The Community Mental Health Champions Initiative, a collaborative project by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and Empact and supported by our corporate partner. It aims to recruit, train and retain 1,000 community mental health champions. Through this initiative, we will build a pool of mental health champions. These champions will actively support the sandwiched generation with a listening ear and signposting to professional services when needed – helping more people prevent or access support for mental health issues. 

The Community Mental Health Champions Initiative is carried out in two phases – Design Phase and Implementation Phase. During the design phase, eleven organisations will come together for a series of workshops to share their knowledge and build a collaborative understanding on issues regarding mental health and how to equip these champions. These eleven organisations are Be Kind SG, Bettr Lives, Caregivers Alliance, Community of Peer Support Specialists, Growthbeans, Loving Heart, O’Joy, Psychological Initiative, SG Assist, Singapore Anglican Community Services, Singapore University of Social Sciences. 

These workshops enable the organisations to align a common vision – mental health promotion intervention – and create opportunities for shared knowledge. Started on 9 July, the first workshop began by defining the Sandwiched Generation. Last week during the second workshop, the organisations shared about mapping and understanding the overall mental health support ecosystem. 

Find out more about how you can be part of this initiative or about collaborative giving here.

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