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

Portfolio Magazine: Helping others help others

John Doe
John Doe
Asian woman (Ms Loh) in red dress posing for camera.

“These six years at CFS have definitely been a fulfilling learning journey for me,” says Ms. Catherine Loh. She smiles for the first time since we sat down to discuss how she traded her successful banking career to one in charity – as CEO of CFS. “I developed greater empathy and learned to see things from another person’s perspective. I’m also humbled by the selflessness displayed by so many in the social sector as they strive daily to help their beneficiaries overcome life’s challenges.”

Set up in 2008, CFS currently manages 110 donor funds, including the SR Nathan Education Upliftment Fund, and has raised over S$100 million in total donations. It also works closely with over 400 charities to identify the gaps in the community that need support.

Ms. Loh sees her work as stimulating attempts at innovation and problem solving. “The needs of donors and beneficiaries are always changing, and there are constantly new ways that we can work with donors and charity partners to solve complex social issues.”

A Different Start
The moment she stepped out of the university, Ms. Loh, like most of her peers, began an earnest pursuit of the 5Cs: cash, car, condominium and country club – popular benchmarks of success in the rapidly developing economic powerhouse that Singapore was in the 1980s and ‘90s.

She started her career at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, followed by leadership positions in the Singapore offices of Nomura, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. “I’m very fortunate to have spent many years of my career in banking, which has seen tremendous growth over the past 20 years,” Ms. Loh says. Work in a dealing room was intense – a virtual roller-coaster ride that followed the constant fluctuations in the financial markets. It was also very competitive and profit-driven.

But there were genuine perks: “The best part of the job was meeting clients from all over the region, understanding their needs, and finding suitable financial solutions in volatile financial markets. Many colleagues and clients have become my good friends and I will always treasure these relationships forged over the years,” Ms. Loh says.

The thrilling ride came to a grinding halt, however. In 2008, the financial crisis that would trigger a global recession had peaked; its aftermath took a toll on Ms. Loh’s health. “I decided to take a break to spend more time with my family and regain my health. After leaving the banking industry in 2010, I spent a year and a half at home looking after my third child who was born in 2009.”

Changing Tracks
When her toddler entered preschool, Ms. Loh considered returning to work. A job offer from the social sector came along. Although it was a different path, her previous volunteer involvement with Assisi Hospice, Metta Welfare Association, and Telok Kurau Primary School prepared her for it.

“I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for me to contribute back to society in a way that can maximize my skill-set and experience in management, sales and marketing, and financial investment management.”

Transitioning into her new role was initially difficult. Ms. Loh had to adjust from working in a large profit-driven organization to a small non-profit focused on doing good. “Being in a lean organization means every team member often has to multitask. Another learning curve was managing staff who are driven by the will to do good and not just by money alone.”

Ms. Loh also found that the largely female-dominated CFS required a more consensus style of management versus a more direct confrontational style in a male-dominated dealing room. “Working with charity partners also demanded more patience and empathy as they are generally understaffed and unable to work at a speed investment that bankers are used to.”

Inspiring Philanthropy
”Our goal has always been to inspire philanthropy, and that has not changed. When I first joined, CFS was still at its infancy and donors were simply looking for a convenient way to consolidate their donation and disburse grants. The needs of donors have evolved along with the shifting social landscape, and CFS has had to rise up beyond an administrative role to better accommodate these changing needs.”

Over the years, as donors gain a better understanding of the social landscape, they began to ask for more information and transparency on how their donations actually help those in need. “We then have to assist our charity partners to better articulate the impact of their programs to donors. For donors who want to find out even more, we facilitate charity visits and meetings with beneficiaries, with the objective of building deeper collaborations and strengthening partnerships among our donors and the communities we serve,” Ms. Loh elaborates.

In the recent years, donors have sought out CFS for strategic philanthropy advisory to obtain help in devising strategies to achieve their philanthropic goals and objectives. “We do that by understanding what donors want to achieve with their philanthropic dollars and we create a ‘portfolio’ of charity programs which they can support to achieve their goals. We would also follow up with evaluation and reporting back to donors so that they understand the impact of their giving.”

A Distinct Difference
Ms. Loh observes that although many people want to help, some may not have time, experience or expertise to do it themselves. “This sentiment can be exacerbated by the sheer volume of information available online. Donors want efficient ways to structure their philanthropy, so they can plan sustained giving to the causes they care about.

“This is where CFS can help with our philanthropy expertise spanning administration, strategy and grant-making. We save donors the work and resources needed to set up a private foundation. By tapping on our philanthropy services, they avoid high overheads, save on time and legal expenses, and enjoy tax deductions upfront.”

CFS has in-house resources to identify charities and evaluate their programs. “We help avoid duplication in funding areas where there may already be adequate government funding or private support. For donors who establish endowment funds with us, we invest their monies to ensure that there is a steady income stream to benefit their selected charities.”

CFS helps donors understand the issues and let them decide how they want to help. It then applies the donors’ funds to the particular area they have identified, and help to track the outcome. “This enables donors to feel a sense of fulfillment, and when they do, very often, they want to do more to help.”

Ms. Loh maintains that donors appreciate CFS following up on the outcomes of their grants. Donors understand that their support is part of a greater whole, and they like to understand how their money has made a difference. “The desire for accountability has always been there, and 10 years on, we see enhanced reporting capability in the charity sector. At CFS, we would like to think that we have contributed positively to this trend.”

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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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Opinion

A turning point for community philanthropy

John Doe
John Doe
Woman delivering a speech at a podium, inspiring the audience with her words.

In the life of any organisation, there are special moments that will be remembered as being turning points.

Last month, CFS held our Philanthropy Forum 2019, where we were extremely privileged to have keynote speaker Ms Eileen Heisman share with us several crucial moments in her career that fueled the growth of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT). As its President and CEO, Eileen has been responsible for steering NPT to raising an incredible US$13 billion in charitable contributions over the last 22 years.

Some of you might know Eileen was a founding member of CFS’s international advisory committee 10 years ago. As we come full circle, Eileen was once again in town to encourage, challenge and inspire us with a vision of what CFS can achieve.

Stepping into a new phase of growing philanthropy in Singapore, I believe this time will be remembered as a turning point in CFS’s history, in more ways than one.

We know that community philanthropy is poised for exponential growth in the next decade. The past year has been a phenomenal year for CFS– in financial year 2018, CFS achieved a year-on-year, four-fold increase in donations amounting to S$35 million. A big thank you to our donors, community partners and collaborators for helping to make this possible.

But what else is needed to create lasting social change? How can we grow from smaller, ad hoc and fragmented giving to bigger, better and smarter giving? Donor advised funds are the way to go as they enable smarter, better giving by helping donors give more thought to the purpose of their charitable dollars.

To take CFS into the future, CFS also welcomed our new Chairman Christine Ong on 1 April, taking over the reins from Laurence Lien. I am deeply honoured to have worked closely with Laurence to build a strong foundation for CFS and confident Christine’s extensive experience in banking and finance, corporate social responsibility and the community will usher CFS into a new phase of growth.

It may be another 10 or 20 years before we look back again at this moment, but I’m sure it will be one we will all be proud of.

Catherine Loh
CEO
Community Foundation of Singapore

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

News

TODAY: New S$528,000 fund to help disadvantaged people stay employed

John Doe
John Doe
Elderly woman in wheelchair using computer to stay connected.

By Ng Jun Sen

SINGAPORE — When stereotypes, stigmas and prejudices prevent people with disabilities or mental health problems from finding jobs, they are often financially or socially disadvantaged for life.

To overcome these barriers, a new fund was launched on Thursday (May 23) to address the problem of social exclusion of disadvantaged groups here, bringing employment and vocational training support to where it is needed most.

The Learning Initiatives for Employment — Community Impact Fund programme is run by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), with the aim of equipping participants with skills, and helping them find jobs and stay employed.

It will target four marginalised groups, namely:

People with disabilities
People recovering from mental illnesses
Disadvantaged women
Youth-at-risk

Ms Joyce Teo, CFS’ deputy chief executive, said: “We hope to pilot new pathways to help the vulnerable make a living, improve their self-esteem and become more involved in society.”

WHAT THE FUND WILL DO
The fund will help participants undergo an average of 140 hours of vocational training and another 60 hours of job matching, job placement and on-the-job coaching support.

CFS targets around 65 per cent of participants to graduate from its training. Out of these graduates, 60 per cent are expected to be placed into jobs for at least three months.

During the training phase, charitable organisations partnering CFS will help these participants minimise or resolve family issues which could derail their training.

Participants seeking kitchen and service jobs will be trained by social enterprise Project Dignity, while Bettr Barista — a coffee academy — will coach aspiring baristas. Both organisations will also provide job attachment opportunities.

In the future, more industries could get involved in the scheme.

The scheme targets an initial 90 participants who will first be identified and referred by Institute of a Public Character charities. Their attitude, aptitude and employment potential will determine whether they qualify for the scheme.

Where possible, the programme will continue to track the participants for up to two years.

HOW IT IS FUNDED
Around S$528,000 is needed to support the scheme. All funding will come from donations and an anchor donor has been secured.

Potential donors can visit Giving.sg or write to CFS at contactus@cf.org.sg. Read more.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

The competition was organised by City Harvest Community Services Association and received support from FUN! Fund, a Community Impact Fund jointly established by the Community Foundation of Singapore and the Agency for Integrated Care, with the aim of addressing social isolation among the elderly.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of National Development Mr Tan Kiat How attended the event. He encouraged the elderly to stay physically and mentally well, as well as urging them to participate in community activities and enjoy their golden years together.

Learn more about FUN! Fund at https://www.cf.org.sg/fun-fund/.

 

The programme provides the children with a non-threatening platform to connect with peers and have positive conversations. In addition, it exposes them to different people who can assist to broaden their perspectives.

L.S., a volunteer with the Reading Odyssey programme @ Spooner Road

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

现年92岁的胡锦盛是最年长的参赛者。自2017年退休后,他几乎每天都到活跃乐龄中心报到,从此爱上了玩拉密,每次可玩上三个小时,在中心是“常胜将军”。

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book.

Stories Of Impact

2020 Annabel Pennefather Award winners Eunice and Wai Yhann: How perseverance and determination helped two young women become champion athletes

John Doe
John Doe
picture of Eunice and Wai Yhann

Every year on the 8th of March, the world celebrates the efforts and achievements of all women both past and present with International Women’s Day. This year, we honour a sports icon, lawyer and woman of the year in 2004 – the late Annabel Pennefather, who was a trailblazer in every sense of the word.

Annabel was a former national hockey player, former Vice-President of Singapore National Olympic Council, former President of the Singapore Hockey Federation, a pioneer of women sports administrators in Singapore and a champion of women in sports globally.

“As her long-time friend, I remember Annabel to be an elegant and warm lady. She combined her passion in sports with her skills as a lawyer to develop Sports Law, its rules and practices both in Singapore and internationally,’’ reminisces Arfat Selvam, Managing Director of Duane Morris & Selvam LLP.

‘’Annabel helped to raise the standards of governance in sports. It is befitting that IWF should honour the memory of a well-loved member by having this award in her name to promote the excellence in sports among our young women.”

Annabel’s legacy continues in the form of the Annabel Pennefather Excellence Award, which is presented annually to two female graduating student-athletes between 16 and 25 years of age, who have outstanding sports achievements. The award honours Annabel and her achievements in encouraging and empowering women in the field of sports.

Funded by International Women’s Forum (IWF) Singapore Education Grant, which is managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the Grant aims to recognise deserving young women with character and the commitment to achieve in their respective fields. 

“With quiet confidence, fierce intellect and ever disarming charm, Annabel helped women in Singapore transcend their boundaries through her own experiences as a sportswoman.  She always gave her best always to her family, work and country,’’ recalls Melissa Kwee, President of the IWF and friend to the late Annabel.

‘’IWF Singapore is grateful that her example and inspiration lives on in the lives of the recipients, whom I am sure she would encourage to simply be their best self.”

Besides sporting excellence, recipients of the award should demonstrate strong leadership, passion, integrity, moral character and conduct, and community spirit. The winners of the 2020 Annabel Pennefather Excellence Award are Au Yeong Wai Yhann and Eunice Lim Zoe, two young women who have demonstrated such excellence in their sporting fields.

It was Eunice Lim’s family that provided a nurturing catalyst for the young sportswoman to grow into her table tennis shoes at a young age.

‘’I picked up table tennis because I saw my brother playing against the wall when he got back from his school CCA training. I got curious and asked him to let me try it out and since then, I fell in love with this sport and have never stopped playing since,’’ Eunice remembers fondly.

Being a student-athlete, it was also a challenge for Eunice to maintain that delicate balance between doing well in school and training for competitions.

‘’I recall having to juggle both my studies and sports during major competitions seasons. It was not easy, as I did not take any breaks from school on both occasions. I knew I had to give 200% during my limited training sessions, knowing that my opponents are definitely clocking more training sessions than I can,’’ Eunice mulls in retrospect.

Eunice’s persistent efforts did eventually reap impressive rewards, bagging the 2018 bronze medal in the 11th South East Asian (SEA) Championship and a bronze medal in the 2019 Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship.

Winning the Annabel Pennefather award was an important milestone for Eunice, who had grappled with thoughts of quitting table tennis whilst transitioning to university.

‘’I had thoughts of giving up the sport at some point because I felt that I was not achieving much. However, winning the Annabel Pennefather award really acted as a source of encouragement and gave me one of the many reasons to strive on. It reminds me that one’s effort will be recognised, as long as we put our heart and soul into the things that we love.’’

The Annabel Pennefather Award serves as a reminder that encouragement and acknowledgement is a powerful and indelible source for young athletes in their path towards excellence.

For 21 year old squash athlete Au Yeong Wai Yhann, it was her family’s loving support and an early exposure to different sports that gave her the confidence and techniques to create a solid foundation.

Despite strong support from her parents and a good head start in physical sports, it was still a challenge as a student athlete to study for her International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations and compete for the SEA Games and Marigold Squash Championships, where she won medals in both competitions.

‘’My goal to perform well in both the tournaments as well as my IB examinations motivated me to keep pushing and working even harder. And so, I was extremely pleased to have won 3 medals – two silver and one bronze – in the 2019 SEA games as well as be crowned the Womens’ National Squash Champion in 2020 because I knew it was a result of many years and hours of hard work and sacrifices.’’

Having won the Annabel Pennefather Award has reminded the young athlete as to how fortunate she has been able to pursue the sport that she loves, and also a motivation for her to continue striving for greater heights and inspiring her juniors to chase their dreams.

“Always believe in yourself. You are stronger than you think, and can achieve anything you set out to do, as long as you are willing to work hard for it. But in the midst of it, remember to take little breaks and reward yourself – self-care is extremely important to keep you going.”

“My hope is to see the sport scene grow and see more youths pick up and compete in sport. Sport is not just about winning or losing. The journey of training and competing itself allows one to develop strong values such as perseverance and discipline, as well as forge many friendships with others. It provides opportunities for all and so I hope that more kids will engage in it.’’

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