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CFS wins inaugural award for contributions to the community care sector
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CFS wins inaugural award for contributions to the community care sector

John Doe
John Doe
cfs receives prestigious Friends of Community Care Awards 2020, recognizing their outstanding contributions to the community.

The Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is one of twelve organisations selected to receive the inaugural Friends of Community Care Award 2020.

Launched by the Agency of Integrated Care (AIC), the award honours organisations outside of the community care sector who have contributed to the community care sector.

CFS is honoured to have been selected by a distinguished judging panel, comprising veterans from the Community Care Sector, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health and AIC.

A Friend in Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis in Singapore was the catalyst for a series of conversations between CFS and AIC. With early cases of COVID-19 being reported from February to March 2020, CFS approached AIC to see how CFS could support the sector as it faced with new and unprecedented challenges.

Through these conversations, CFS was constantly receptive to AIC’s feedback on areas of need amongst community care providers. As a nod towards CFS’ appreciation of community care workers, CFS took the first step of sponsoring the first Tranche of Staff Appreciation to boosting staff morale and welfare.

Through CFS’ new community impact fund, the Sayang Sayang Fund, CFS was able to fundraise and provide targeted support for vulnerable communities impacted by the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Keeping seniors safe was one key priority. CFS’ timely and forthcoming support helped Community Care providers focus on managing the situation and safeguarding the interests and wellbeing of seniors.

Bolstering the Sector

With almost $8 million raised through the Sayang Sayang Fund, CFS’ work helped to provide more donations for the sector. This has greatly enabled community care providers to provide sustained support to their beneficiaries amidst the COVID-19 situation.

“When CFS worked on supporting the vulnerable in the community during the pandemic, winning an award was the last thing on our minds,” says Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS, “While it is wonderful to receive positive affirmation, what is more valuable is the great partnership we have struck up with AIC to realise our objectives of improving the quality of life of our people.”

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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

Beyond cultural philanthropy: The art of making a difference

John Doe
John Doe
group of musicians practicing together

Last month’s Patron of the Arts event was a spot of sunlight at a time of gloomy Covid-19 headlines. The fact that Singaporeans – individuals as well as corporations – are still strongly supporting our arts groups in cash donations as well as with in-kind gifts was a heartening takeaway for everyone who cares for the arts and cultural scene in our country.

The annual awards – alongside a similar counterpart in the heritage sector – are a meaningful way to thank those who have been generous to the cultural landscape. And I am sure patrons also enjoy being in the limelight for an evening and being recognised for the vital support that they give to Singapore’s culture.

Cultural philanthropy is important for sustainability in the sector as it complements the grants given by the Government and the income that groups earn from ticket sales, classes and other programming.

However, while awards may recognise more significant donors, in reality, everyone can play a part, and arts companies appreciate all contributions, big or small. The income tax deduction also serves as an added incentive.

But beyond philanthropic giving, there are numerous other ways Singaporeans support the cultural scene. For starters, there are the skilled but unpaid volunteers who help out in many arts companies, serving on the board or on one of the committees. Today, with many arts companies being charities and some even Institutions of Public Character, which can collect tax-exempt donations, the boards have the important role of ensuring compliance with the latest codes of governance.

Fortunately, many of our leading arts companies have volunteers from the corporate world, including bankers, lawyers and accountants, who can contribute their expertise and ensure companies are well run, with funds from donors and grant-givers accounted for.

Sometimes, where necessary, they even mediate the relationship between the artistic team and company’s administrators who manage the purse strings.

Supporting artists’ works

It is also important to remember philanthropic giving typically benefits these arts charities. So any largesse may not benefit the freelance musicians, creative writers and visual artists, unless they receive commissions from the companies.

That is why there is another kind of patron who should be recognised. These patrons visit the artists’ studios, check what they are working on, and acquire or commission new works as a show of support. This is not philanthropy that attracts tax deductions, but such patrons have been instrumental in sustaining the careers of the visual artists, especially in the early days of their practice.

One sterling example of how one individual can make a difference is architect, art collector and former chairman of the National Gallery Singapore Koh Seow Chuan. His support of, and genuine interest in, Singaporean artists from pioneer painters like Cheong Soo Pieng to young contemporary artists, is well known and documented in Singapore’s art history. Singapore needs more committed patrons like Mr Koh.

Corporations, too, can give work to home-grown artists through active commissioning. For example, Raffles Hotel, as part of its reopening earlier this year, commissioned a playwright and theatre practitioners to create a virtual whodunnit set on the hotel’s beautiful grounds.

Co-owning the arts

But why is giving to the arts important in the first place? Why can’t the Government just fund and take care of everything? Well, that is because the arts should be co-owned by the people, even if there is strong government support. This model also ensures a diversity of artistic expressions and encourages more ground-up creations.

For individuals who step up and offer their time, energy and financial wherewithal, I suggest that they are driven by a deeper desire beyond a personal love for an art form. They clearly understand that art created from the community has something unique to say about the world we live in, conveyed through an artist’s sense of aesthetics or personal philosophy.

Such individuals also appreciate how the arts can inspire, restore weary spirits, and bring joy to people. Thus, by enabling artists or arts groups, these engaged individuals enrich the larger community and by extension, the nation.

For those with both ambition and resources, individuals have even galvanised like-minded people with diverse skills to start an arts company. Two relatively new organisations that have made significant strides in recent years are the Jazz Association, which develops and promotes home-grown jazz talents, and Re:Sound Collective, which programmes excellent chamber music for classical music lovers.

This is the spirit we need to harness in the Singapore of tomorrow. Certainly, the Government has signalled that it welcomes more partnerships with the private and people sectors, and no doubt, it has the resources to enable growth. This, of course, means a joint ownership of the arts and the attendant challenges in artistic excellence and audience development.

For those with the interest, skills or financial means but have no idea how to navigate and support the cultural scene, here are some practical suggestions.

The National Volunteer And Philanthropy Centre provides a service that matches skilled volunteers with leadership roles in non-profit organisations, including arts companies. First-timers can always start with event-based volunteerism, or by serving on a sub-committee, before offering to contribute on a board.

For those with more substantial financial means, they can approach the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), which can advise them on how to start a fund to support the cultural scene.

The CFS has helped donors set up charitable trusts with an interest in giving to the arts, among other priorities, on a sustained basis. In particular, newly settled entrepreneurs or business owners from overseas could consider this both to support and better understand the Singaporean cultural fabric.

One area Singapore can do better is in how the Government and an active citizenry can jointly identify the gaps in specific sectors, and establish ways to work together on solutions and co-deliver the outcomes. The Government should not be expected to have its finger on the pulse of every part of society, and indeed may not also be in the best place to respond to every challenge.

Timely questions

For the arts, this is a timely question as the National Arts Council takes stock of its first five-year arts master plan and looks ahead to its next.

Should grooming pop music talent for export or developing community arts for positive social outcomes be a priority? What about adapting our home-grown literature across multimedia or facilitating more translations? And importantly, how can the people sector jointly own these priority areas?

The approach here applies to other parts of society as well – from the social sector to sports and the environment. A trusting partnership between the Government and committed citizens will lead to Singaporeans proactively owning challenges and gaps in specific sectors, encourage experimentation on new approaches while providing greater clarity to private funders and skilled volunteers on where to focus their energies.

Successful partnerships will also reduce duplication and inefficiencies, such as having too many parties with similar missions or chasing after the same demographic to provide services.

As existing non-profit companies make an objective assessment of their future and relevance to their stakeholders, government agencies will also need to reflect on how much more space they can cede to support the growth of the people sector to achieve such strong partnerships.

This will be critical for a resilient citizenry, as society matures and the people continue to grapple with the pernicious impact of a protracted pandemic.

  • Paul Tan is the former deputy chief executive of the National Arts Council and serves on a few boards of non-profit arts companies in Singapore.

If you would like to start your journey of effective giving, visit 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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Events

Giving through the generations

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people sitting in chairs

Increasingly, individuals and family businesses are consciously looking at ways to create positive social impact through philanthropy – but in today’s world, what does creating a legacy mean from divergent perspectives, from individuals to families, from parent to child?

Last November, the CRIB x CFS Legacy and Impact cocktail event brought two prominent families, with extensive histories of giving, together with philanthropists and social capital investors to reflect upon these questions.

Moderated by Patsian Low, the panelists included Richard Eu, Chairman of Eu Yan Sang and his daughter Rebecca; and Keith Chua, Executive Chairman of ABR Holdings (and CFS board member), and his daughter Sharon.

To kick off the evening, Catherine Loh, CEO of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), reflected upon the challenge facing families today. “When it comes to creating a family legacy, it’s about understanding how to bridge the different concerns and interests of each generation, and trying to align giving to key values,” she commented.

While members of the older generation might be more focused on passing on family values, Catherine observed, the younger generation is keen to explore new approaches to giving. “Many of our next generation donors have a strong social consciousness and feel they don’t need to wait until they’re richer, older and retired to start thinking about giving back,” she said.

Though her family has traditionally supported education and healthcare, Rebecca Eu struck a chord when she shared how she started social enterprise Love, Mei in a vastly different field, helping victims of human trafficking in the Phillipines. “I don’t think legacy is limited to your blood ties,” she proposed, “Instead, legacy moves on with the project you adopt and the people that you work with.”

Reflecting today’s shift towards strategic philanthropy, Sharon Chua shared how her professional experience with philanthropy advisory has empowered her to become a better steward of her family’s wealth. “I learnt how to evaluate impact, the sustainability of projects, and how to forage good partnerships, and that helps with my own family’s philanthropy. I’ve always believed philanthropy is something you need to be personally engaged and committed to,” she shared.

One audience member posed a question to both fathers on how they would manage their children’s future giving decisions to avoid conflict.

Richard espoused offering broad guidelines to one’s children and suggested “storytelling” as a way of passing on family values. “When your family is used to hearing stories, such as why your great grandfather did certain things, it becomes ingrained in your family’s DNA. The legacy you leave behind is not about having a building or place named after you, but the lives that you impact.”

Keith reflected on his role as a trustee for the giving of earlier generations, and proposed older family members play a key role in “setting mechanisms in place” for the next generation.

Keith said, “CFS provided us with an avenue to create a fund to leave something behind for the next generation and share it with our wider family. Under this structure, the funds will carry on for a certain period of time. Once you’ve set certain things in place, you can bring the next generation along for the ride, and trust them with the responsibility when it’s their turn.”

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Events

Celebrating a decade of inspiring and enabling philanthropy in Singapore

John Doe
John Doe
Two female individuals can be seen in the picture, both dressed in red shirts and holding a volleyball ball.

After months of anticipation, CFS’s year-long 10th anniversary celebrations came to a high point on 5 September 2018 at a gala event held at The Arts House. Guest of honour, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, and 120 guests including donors, charities and other partners, came together to commemorate this major milestone in CFS’s history.

In her keynote speech, Minister Fu reflected on philanthropy’s important role in Singapore’s history and its continued relevance in building a culture of care. She thanked CFS for “its excellent work in raising funds and giving out grants, as well as in inspiring and enabling giving in Singapore” and that “as Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS plays an important role as a bridge builder between local communities and the larger charitable ecosystem.”

CEO Catherine Loh spoke of how CFS had “much to prove” when she joined six years ago, but that’s she proud to see CFS having a much wider reach in the public sphere today. “The entrance of a community foundation like CFS has transformed how philanthropy is approached,” she remarked, signaling future plans to grow legacy giving, collaboration and impact.

Outgoing chairman Laurence Lien took the occasion to leave CFS with an audacious goal – to raise $1 billion in our donor funds at some point in the future. He expressed, “We count on you present today, to continue journeying with us, to grow this community of givers. We all are part owners of CFS because we are all the part of the Singapore community.”

Guests were also treated to a violin performance by Joey Lau, winner of the Goh Soon Tioe Centenary Award 2017, a fund managed by CFS.

Amidst dinner and cocktails, the mood was buoyant, as many offered their enthusiastic congratulation. “It’s fantastic to see tonight that the achievements of CFS get celebrated,” said Sebastien Lamy, Director of Keppel Corporation and CFS board member. “I look forward to an even stronger partnership with CFS moving forward,” remarked Tui Jurn Mun, Republic Polytechnic.

The evening ended on a jubilant note as we savoured, shared and reflected on an amazing journey over the last decade. Here’s to the next 10 years of giving!

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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.

Opinion

4 Critical Educational Gaps for Disadvantaged Children & Youth in Singapore

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people sitting at a table with a group of children

While abilities and talents are distributed equally across the population, access to educational resources is often not. Children from low-income families are the ones who pay the price. Without the right educational opportunities, they underperform in school and end up with lower-paying jobs. Studies show that students from low-income families are more than four times as likely to be low performers than their affluent peers. (OECD, 2016) Without intervention, this cycle of income inequality will persist.

The growing special needs community is also in need of our urgent attention. One key area that we highlight is the need for integration with mainstream students. There needs to be greater awareness about creating better school and work opportunities for this community while preparing them to function independently as adults.

In this article, we highlight critical educational gaps for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and ways to level the playing field and improve their opportunities for social mobility.

#1 Funding for Early Education

The pre-school landscape presents over 1,900 childcare centres and kindergartens. They offer a wide-ranging fee structure that can range from a few dollars to over S$2,000 a month, depending on whether they are full or half-day programmes and with or without subsidies. 

During these early childhood years, pre-school education provides the foundation for children. It helps them develop the confidence and social skills to get them ready for formal education. However, low-income families may struggle even with subsidised fees. 

Children from families that can set aside additional resources for pre-school education have more opportunities to strengthen their social and behavioural skills than those from disadvantaged backgrounds. As the child is placed into a learning environment earlier in pre-school, they are weaned into the academic lifestyle earlier, which also aids their performance in formal education. Studies show that social-economically advantaged children in Singapore outperformed disadvantaged students in reading by 104 points. (PISA, 2018

While pre-school education is not compulsory, it is critical to ensure that all children get off the starting block of formal school without too much difficulty. Therefore, parents must understand the importance of pre-school education and available financial assistance schemes. It ensures that the children have access to critical education in their formative years.

#2 Developing Life Skills

A child’s home environment has a powerful impact on school readiness. Parents or caregivers in low-income homes tend to be busy working or absent; they have little time to support their children’s learning needs. Children often do not receive the stimulation they need and do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school.

The resulting lower self-confidence, lower motivation, and reduced resilience pose further obstacles in their struggle for social mobility.

Activities such as team sports, drama, and public speaking encourage interaction. They are great for boosting confidence, self-esteem, and socio-emotional skills. We need funding for programmes to provide alternative avenues for these children to develop these essential skills.

#3 Rising Cost of Higher Education

Education has not been spared, with consumer prices increasing steadily over the years. 

Singapore’s average annual education inflation rate from 2001 to 2021 was 2.87%. Higher education, specifically polytechnic diploma fees, rose 20% between 2015 and 2022. The average cost of a 3-year polytechnic education is close to $37,000. (MOE 2022)

Although statistics show that a polytechnic graduate earns 1.4 times more than an ITE graduate, many students will not choose to study at a polytechnic. One reason for this is due to the high school fees. Those who do may drop out of school for the same reason. 

Even with existing public financial aid programmes, students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds still struggle to pay their school and living expenses. More financial assistance from the private sector, in the form of pocket money, bursaries, or scholarships, will help these students bolster the shortfall in higher education expenses.

#4 Lack of Integration

For the special needs community, a critical piece that is sorely lacking is inclusivity. Special education schools are separate from mainstream schools in Singapore, and students do not intermingle.  However, research shows that special needs children benefit from interacting with peers with stronger academic abilities. This benefit goes both ways, as children who have interacted with people with special needs from young develop greater empathy and respect for diversity. (Association for Psychological Science, 2014).

This is a strong push for special education and mainstream schools to work together to create opportunities for meaningful interaction between their students. Children with disabilities are given a chance to develop their potential and thrive in the same environment as their peers.

Funding is required to beef up resources, training and partnerships to facilitate exchange among educators from different backgrounds. We could achieve greater harmonisation across mainstream primary schools, special education, pre-schools and early intervention sectors. An inclusive educational environment would offer a curriculum that caters to different needs, paces of learning as well as provide the facilities and resources required.

Other than school, these children tend to spend less time in public spaces or in recreational activities. Sometimes it is due to practical reasons like access difficulties, which is a great pity as they miss out on opportunities to connect to the larger community. Funding can be directed towards the intentional design of public spaces, sports, and cultural activities so that those with special needs can feel that they are truly a part of society.

Do more with your giving—how CFS can help

To enable every child to shine to their fullest potential and better support the disadvantaged, CFS can help you make a positive impact by aligning your donations with the needs of this community. 

CFS is a cause-neutral organisation that enables us to support grant-making to a wide range of charitable areas that match the donors’ interests and uplift diverse communities in Singapore. These charitable areas include children, youth, education, families, seniors, persons with disabilities, sports, health, animal welfare, environment to arts and heritage.

We partner with charities that focus on clearly identified problem areas or social gaps which might be under-supported. Charities must also demonstrate measurable outcomes and good stewardship of funds.

A simple and effective way to contribute to a variety of causes in Singapore is by setting up a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). A DAF can be set up by an individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our unparalleled insight into Singapore’s charitable landscape to provide philanthropy advice that ensures your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful. CFS strives to ensure that every grant which goes out creates positive change.

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to the DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs and our DAF payout rates outperformed the entire US DAF industry by 12% and their community foundations by two times.

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

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