Four teachers recognised for excellence in early childhood, special needs education
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Four teachers recognised for excellence in early childhood, special needs education

John Doe
John Doe
four teachers receiving an award

Ms Sulochanah Kanapathy’s pupil was already four years old but he could not say a word.

But Ms Sulochanah, 47, was determined to help, and taught the child with special needs to speak his first words.

The teacher from Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten went the extra mile by conducting home visits, giving the child additional teaching materials, and training his parents to better manage his learning.

That incident from seven years ago drove her to take a course in special needs education to understand children with such challenges better.

On Wednesday (Nov 24), she received the Leading Foundation Teacher Award, in the Early Childhood Educator category, at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Nanyang Technological University.

Besides Ms Sulochanah, Ms A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, from Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Block 246, also received the Leading Foundation Award in the same category.

Ms Wong Jia Min, 34, from Fei Yue Community Services and Mrs Lee E-Lyn, 47, from Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) received the Leading Foundation Award in the Special Needs Educator Category.

The Leading Foundation Teacher Award, established in 2013, recognises excellence in early childhood, special needs and allied educators who have made significant contributions to the well-being and teaching of their students. It is administered by NIE and the Community Foundation of Singapore.

The four were selected through appraisals and interviews by the judging panel, which comprised members from NIE, the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development.

This year, there were a total of 57 nominations.

Among the winners was Ms Neshanthini,who is a firm believer in ensuring that her lessons appeal to all types of learners.

There is always something for her pupils, be it visual, auditory or tactile. For instance, she often uses food essence to stimulate her pupils’ senses as part of sensory play, she said.

As for Ms Wong Jia Min, she believes parental support is key to a child’s development.

For example, Ms Wong brought in a professional sign language interpreter so that a student with behavioural issues could communicate more effectively with her deaf parents.

Many house visits later, Ms Wong and a social worker noticed a major positive change in the student’s behaviour.

Mrs Lee, on the other hand, uses humour in her classes to allow her students to express themselves and to feel relaxed in a safe environment.

For instance, she records the children’s voices and plays the recordings back during oral practice. She focuses heavily on celebrating small successes and encouraging them.

“I’m not just their teacher, but their cheerleader too,” she said.

The awards are sponsored by The Leading Foundation, which was co-founded by Mr Lim Siong Guan, a professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and a former head of the Singapore Civil Service, with Ms Joanne H. Lim, founder of a communications consultancy.

Mrs Jennifer Lim, Prof Lim’s wife and the guest of honour, presented the awards to the winners, who also received a cash award of $2,500 and a certificate each.

Winners list
Early Childhood Educator category
Ms A. Neshanthini Neelamohan, 33, PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Braddell Heights Blk 246
Ms Sulochanah Kanapathy, 47, Ramakrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten

Special Needs Educator category
Mrs Lee E-Lyn, 47, Methodist Girls’ School (Primary)
Ms Wong Jia Min, 34, Fei Yue Community Services

If you would like to begin your giving journey with us at CFS, please read more 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

Empowering Her Dream: International Women’s Forum Singapore Aids Young Fashion Designer’s Success

John Doe
John Doe
two women standing next to each other

Denise Yeo was juggling two part-time jobs while studying full-time for a degree in Fashion Design & Textiles at LASALLE College of the Arts. So, she was overjoyed when she received an education grant from the International Women’s Forum Singapore (IWF). “The money meant I could divert more time to my studies,” says the 23-year-old student.

Funding her degree has been a struggle. Her father is disabled in both legs and cannot work. Her mother works in a restaurant and Denise’s elder sister, who looks after their father, had to take out a loan from her Central Provident Fund savings to help Denise pay for her tuition fees.

The $4,500 IWF grant has let her cut back on her working hours in her crucial final year. It also helped fund her graduation project – a collection of six looks inspired by the whimsical, playful nature of clowns – which is critical to building a career in fashion. “Fashion involves a lot of money and time,” says Denise, who graduates in April 2023. The financial security allowed her to devote more time to designing her collection and invest in better quality fabric and trimmings.

Denise is already crafting a name as a designer to watch. In 2021, the articulate and talented young lady won the Men’s Folio Designer of the Year competition. She plans to start a brand of her own and pursue a master’s degree and a PhD. Grateful for how the IWF grant positively impacted her, Denise hopes more philanthropic support can be extended to students in the creative arts.

The annual grant came from the IWF Singapore Education Grants Fund, a donor-advised fund (DAF) which IWF set up in 2014 with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS). IWF is an invitation-only network of accomplished women dedicated to advancing women’s leadership and championing gender equality. It strongly believes in nurturing the next generation of women by providing access to education and mentorship.

The IWF Singapore Education Grant aims to support deserving young women in any field, in any educational institution in Singapore. Beneficiaries are typically students between the ages of 17 to 35 who are applying or studying for a diploma or degree at a local polytechnic or university, and who are at risk of dropping out due to financial challenges.

Aside from monetary aid, the grant seeks to equip these students with life skills and guidance on career choices. This is done with the help of the Young Women’s Leadership Connection, a mentorship programme initiated by Mrs Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of law firm Duane Morris and Selvam LLP. For IWF, partnering with CFS has been the ideal way to fulfil its specific philanthropic goals. As Singapore’s only community foundation, CFS is a leader in philanthropy advisory and grantmaking, and will celebrate its 15th year of connecting donors with opportunities to make impact in 2023. Tapping into its deep roots in the community, CFS helped IWF navigate unmet needs in the educational sector, backed by its solid knowledge of local institutes of higher learning and data such as the cost of education.

With the help of CFS, IWF looks for students with grit – those who strive to excel in their chosen field. Beyond that, it also seeks out students with a strong desire to make a difference to their community and who show empathy for the less fortunate. In Denise’s case, what helped her stand apart was her commitment to sustainability.

While working in F&B, she gained an appreciation for managing waste, recycling and thoughtful sourcing of materials. This prompted Denise to weave in elements of eco-consciousness into her designs. She opts for natural fabrics, instead of synthetic ones, and is creating outfits that can be worn in many different ways, to improve their lifespan.

In 2021 alone, the IWF fund supported grants to 31 students in tertiary institutions. Since its inception, the IWF has awarded a total of 143 grants to 127 unique young women from 13 local institutions. Through its long-running generosity and tireless mentoring, the IWF has made a lasting impact on the lives of numerous young women.

Establishing a DAF with CFS is a seamless, cost-effective and flexible way for donors to embark on their very own giving journey. As a one-stop philanthropic centre, CFS tailors each DAF to a donor’s motivations and handles the tax, legal, reporting, governance and fund management requirements. This is all carried out at minimal cost. Backed by 14 years of experience and counting, CFS is honoured to be the leading provider of DAFs in Singapore today.

For more on how CFS can help you on your philanthropic journey, please visit this page.

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New office for S’poreans to partner the Government and give ideas

John Doe
John Doe
Pedestrians walk crossing a road

CFS is pleased to be a part of Forward SG, as we build our shared future, together.

We know that collective effort – through financial support, knowledge-sharing, and community collaboration – is the bedrock of a stronger, more inclusive society.

As part of the Forward SG movement, CFS will rev up our mission to forge stronger connections between generous donors and local communities, inspiring those who’ve thrived to give back, create a positive ripple effect in our community – and strengthen our social compact.

Donations will be channelled to where they’re needed most, paving the way for enduring, meaningful change. Read the news below to learn more about the latest Forward SG updates.

To spur civic participation, a new office will be set up to create more space for Singaporeans to work with the Government.

The Singapore Government Partnerships Office, one of the recommendations of the Forward Singapore report, will lead national efforts to engage citizens who want to contribute, by facilitating interactions between them and relevant government agencies.

The office is part of a broader shift to empower people to take individual and collective actions, in the hope that building a shared future will foster unity.

“We recognise that there are some areas where it may be better for the Government to step back and allow more space for citizen participation,” said the report. 

“We will therefore introduce new ways to promote civic participation. We will also support more ground-up efforts by Singaporeans to shape and improve their communities.”

The Government will actively seek input and work closely with all stakeholders and partners, said the report prepared by the fourth-generation political leaders led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.

Besides creating more avenues for civic participation and ground-up efforts, the report also sketched out ways to nurture a stronger culture of giving and for people to support their fellow Singaporeans.

The recommendations follow the 16-month-long Forward Singapore exercise that saw more than 200,000 Singaporeans contribute their suggestions. 

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Wong said: “This is more than just an engagement exercise. It’s really a partnership effort… between Government, people, community groups, employers, businesses, (it) encompasses our tripartite partnership.

“It’s really a whole-of-Singapore partnership, and that’s the only way that we can implement these big moves and these big shifts together.”

Ultimately, the aim is to build a vibrant, thriving and resilient society where the broad middle enjoys progress, the vulnerable receive care, and the better-off do their part to improve the lives of fellow citizens, said the report.

“We ask that Singaporeans step forward to give back to our society, especially those who have done well and benefited from the system,” it added. 

This could be through financial donations, contributing knowledge, or working with community organisations. 

To this end, a new programme will be introduced to better connect donors to local communities and channel donations to where they are needed over a sustained period.

This will be done in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Singapore and Community Chest.

For example, a donor could support the educational needs of children from several lower-income families not just financially, but also in the areas of mentorship, internship and job opportunities, to help build their social capital and networks.

Businesses can also do more for the wider community, said the report.

It held up business leaders-turned-philanthropists such as Hajjah Fatimah, who donated land to build the Hajjah Fatimah Mosque, Govindasamy Pillai who set up the Ramakrishna Mission charity, and Tan Tock Seng, who donated money towards the building of what became Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

To guide companies in designing business practices and operations that can benefit society, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre has set up the new Company of Good strategy, and 55 companies have adopted this corporate purpose framework.

Young people can give their views on policies through youth panels that were launched in May. These panels will look into financial security, careers and lifelong learning, digital well-being, and environment and sustainability. 

Mr Wong said some of the top issues for youth that surfaced during the Forward SG exercise were jobs and career choices, mental wellness and sustainability.

“There was a very strong sense of wanting to give back and support others who are less fortunate,” he said, adding that a group of young people worked closely with the Ministry of Social and Family Development team to come up with recommendations to uplift lower-income families.

Another aspect of fostering unity involves strengthening multiracialism and the Singaporean identity, said the report, adding that the Government will do its part by continuing to expand spaces for more interactions between different groups. 

More will be done to promote collaborations between the various self-help groups, and to encourage more Singaporeans to be involved in racial harmony programmes in the community, said the report.

It noted that sustained effort to sensitively manage the difficult issues on race and to create shared experiences through school, and community and national events, has allowed Singapore to enjoy several decades of racial and religious harmony.

“But we must have the humility to acknowledge that our multiracialism is still a work in progress,” it said.

Even as more avenues will be provided for people to contribute ideas, the report said, not all ideas can be accepted and, sometimes, there may be differing views on how to achieve an outcome.

In such cases, the Government will explain its considerations, and take the “practical and pragmatic” approach by looking at data and evidence and considering the circumstances and context before deciding on a way forward.

“Such differences are not so fundamental because our ends are the same, and it is a matter of working out the best approach to take,” said the report.

From Friday to Sunday, Singaporeans will be able to learn more about the initiatives in the report at the Forward Singapore Festival at Silver Garden – Silver Leaf at Gardens by the Bay. After this, the festival roadshow will make its way to various heartland locations until Jan 28, 2024.

There will be exhibition booths on the key policy shifts highlighted in the report, an interactive booth where people can create their own avatars to discover what the shared future holds, and a holographic booth where they can make pledges for Singapore.

Read more about the Forward Singapore report.


Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

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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


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



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LIFT (Learning Initiatives for Employment) Community Impact Fund – Training and increasing employability for marginalised groups

John Doe
John Doe
a few people cooking

The Learning Initiatives for Employment (LIFT) Community Impact Fund (CIF) from the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) provides social enterprise funding to enable disadvantaged groups to obtain training in order to be more employable. 

The funding provided has allowed two social enterprises, the Bettr Barista Coffee Academy and Dignity Kitchen develop a more standardised training programme for their students, as well as expand the number of training places available to aid more disadvantaged groups to enter the workforce.

Both social enterprises were covered in the story, along with the experiences of a beneficiary that had benefited from the programme. It was reported that the two enterprises had provided training for 115 people from April 2020 to March 2021, and managed to get 73 people employed, out of the 91 that had completed the training. Amongst the 73 employed, 55 of them remained employed for more than three months, showing the success of the programme.

The first story covers the journey of Jiefan, an 18 years old who had dropped out of school a few years prior and was on probation due to violating the law. He went through 20 interviews in two months, yet was not hired due to his probation and surveillance sentence. After a recommendation from his social worker, Jiefan received training at the social enterprise Bettr Barista, where he not only learned how to brew coffee, but also to control his emotions and improve his communication skills.

The second story talks about the experience of Jerry Tan, 23 years old, who had suffered from a stroke four years ago back in his second year in Singapore Polytechnic. While he survived, the left side of his body was left stiff and weak, and his left arm still remains unresponsive up till today. In addition, with the vision in both of his eyes also affected, Jerry was disadvantaged physically. He underwent a one-month training course in Dignity Kitchen to complete a series of Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ), following which he worked in a Japanese restaurant for about a year, before returning to Dignity Kitchen to serve as a cashier due to Covid-19. Jerry is now currently helping to train other colleagues with physical disabilities while he considers his future education and career.

The article also featured a quote from Joyce Teo, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of CFS, explaining how the disadvantaged people also needed some training to adapt to the workplace environment, as most of them had never gotten a chance to enter a formal workplace in society. She also spoke about how she hoped that the public could actively support and donate to the LIFT fund to help subsidise the training fees for the socially disadvantaged population, which could cost $5,000 per individual on average.

If you would like to support someone in their journey towards sustained employment opportunities, please visit our donation drive on here.

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao 

Credit: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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How Family Offices Could Shape Philanthropy

John Doe
John Doe
a bridge over water with buildings in the background

Singapore has a long history of family philanthropy. The first family foundations were established after World War II and they donated generously to alleviate poverty, care for the vulnerable and build schools and hospitals. Today, there are over 400 foundations and trusts registered with the Commissioner of Charities but families that institutionalized big-ticket giving early on – such as the Lee Foundation and the Lien Foundation – continue to dominate philanthropic giving in Singapore.

Family offices are entities which typically manage assets for or on behalf of a family. And Singapore – well-regulated, transparent and politically stable – is rapidly becoming the region’s preferred choice for family offices. In 2020 alone, approximately 200 single family offices were set up here, doubling the total count. As wealth grows, charitable giving is likely to keep climbing.

These high-net-worth families have the potential to shake up philanthropy in Singapore. Traditionally, the Asian family office was an extension of the family business, with a laser-sharp focus on the bottomline. “However, as founders age and younger successors take over, we expect to see greater value placed on sustainable and responsible investing as well as on strategic philanthropy,” says our CEO Catherine Loh.

Research firm Wealth-X estimates that $1.9 trillion worth of wealth in Asia will be passed on to the next generation in the coming decade. For many heirs, giving back is emerging as an integral part of doing business. For them, philanthropic activities are an optimal way to build and sustain a family’s legacy, strengthen family cohesion and better engage family members. 

But here’s where it gets interesting. “Family offices have the power to shake up traditional philanthropy as they tend to be more agile and responsive compared to large foundations or corporate foundations, which are answerable to multiple stakeholders and layers of decision makers. Secondly, family businesses tend to be built by entrepreneurs and disruptors, making them more open to new ways of doing things,” says Catherine. 

What this means is that the new wave of family-driven philanthropy could fund untested, possibly radical new approaches to problems. It could find innovative ways of harnessing capital for social impact. It could move away from cheque book charity to a more engaged approach which could lean towards social enterprises or private-public initiatives. 

However, while most family offices across the globe are engaged in some form of giving back, only 41% of them have a philanthropic strategy in place, notes the Milken Institute. Few family offices have the in-house expertise to evaluate nonprofits, deploy philanthropic dollars optimally, or monitor and measure impact. 

“At CFS, we believe giving should be thoughtfully planned and driven by evidence-based insights,” says Catherine. As a cause-neutral philanthropy advisor, CFS offers unparalleled access to over 400 charities in Singapore, across a diverse range of sectors. We conduct due diligence to ensure the giving is accountable and creating a social impact.  

For family offices, a cost-effective and flexible way to embark on philanthropy is to set up a donor-advised fund (DAF). Since 2008, CFS has set up close to 200 DAFs: of these, almost half have been for families. We pool donor funds for investment management and with over $90 million in assets at any one time, smaller individual funds can reap the economies of scale that large foundations enjoy. Beyond this, as the country’s largest convener of philanthropic activities, we mobilise donor capital through collaborations and collective models to scale up impact and generate more empowering solutions. 

If you would like to find out more about how CFS can help you achieve your giving goals, please click here.



  1. June Lee (January 2019) Exploring Family Philanthropy in Singapore – Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship & Philanthropy, National University of Singapore 
  2. EDB Singapore (February 2022) How Singapore is Becoming Asia’s Family Office Hub 
  3. Richard Newell (March 2022) New study sees Singapore as top family office hub – Asian Investor 
  4. Milken Institute (June 2021) Philanthropy in a Family Office
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