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Social Space issue 8: Collective philanthropy – the strength of giving together
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Social Space issue 8: Collective philanthropy – the strength of giving together

John Doe
John Doe
a two page write up regarding Collective Pilantrophy

By Rob John
“Giving to charity has never been a solitary activity in any culture. People have joined together to give for millennia. In Asia, clan associations, religious groups or just friends have enjoyed the benefits of giving as a group. But there appears to be a renaissance of collective giving with the advent of more organised, strategic and outcome-focused philanthropy. At the Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP) where I am presently based, our research team’s curiosity about giving circles was first piqued when investigating the nature of innovation in Asian philanthropy in 2012. In that study, we reported several initiatives where individuals pooled their resources and jointly selected a non-profit organisation to fund. Since then, the number and variety of giving circle models have increased across the region, leading me to believe that giving circles will contribute significantly to the development of philanthropy in Asia over the coming decade.”

Read more about ‘Collective Philanthropy, the Strength of Giving Together’ on Pg 19 of Issue 8 of Social Space.

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Opinion

Accessing Quality Education: Beyond the Classroom Walls

John Doe
John Doe
a person teaching a group of children

The education of a generation is an extensive and complex undertaking.

Consider the span of time it takes to bring a single individual from nursery and preschool, through the primary and secondary school levels to the various branches of tertiary education. This journey could range from at least 12 years to almost three decades for the dedicated academic.

Keep in mind the need to cater to the individual’s development along the entire stretch in terms of how he or she learns, their psychosocial, physical, emotional and mental health, and their attitudes during the learning process. Now multiply that by over 30,000 for the number of students in each cohort year in Singapore, and you get a sense of the seemingly impossible task that faces the Ministry of Education.

The 32,000 plus teachers in Singapore (MOE, 2021) are doing a highly commendable job as it is. Singapore is ranked 21st in the latest education ranking of the Best Countries Report (World Population Review, 2022) and topped the world in the 2018 Global Competence test, conducted as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment (ST, 2020).

The Singapore education system also has facilities and options for those with learning disabilities, allowing those with conditions such as autism and Down syndrome to obtain a formal education, with pathways to employment for those who are able to do so.

There is a plethora of exit points for those who graduate from the education system here. Besides those with learning disabilities, one could complete formal education after attaining a polytechnic diploma, a university degree or even a doctorate.

While some of that depends on their innate aptitude for study, the students’ early childhood education plays a large part. While it is compulsory for all Singaporean citizens to attend primary school (MOE, 2021), the same is not true for preschool.

Government statistics reflect that nearly 99% of children in Singapore would have at least some preschool education by the age of six (MSF, 2016). This is commendable, but many still do not get the essential foundation that preschools offer, which leads in part to the learning difficulties (not to be confused with disabilities) that some children may face in keeping pace with their peers (Channel News Asia, 2019).

Learning difficulties are when a child, whose IQ is not affected, finds it challenging to learn in a particular way (MyLife Care, 2018). It could stem from conditions such as dyslexia or psychological issues such as anxiety and depression, inhibiting the child’s learning abilities and approach to studies.

Children with learning difficulties face problems with literacy and numeracy (Raising Children, 2021), which is an issue as English and Mathematics are the two core subjects that determine entry into post-secondary education.

Fortunately, there are many groups who are supporting children and youth struggling with primary and secondary school education. Although they are not teachers per se, the programme staff and volunteers of these groups are helping children with learning difficulties, who are usually from challenging backgrounds, to improve their academic abilities.

For instance, social enterprise Catch Them Young’s programme KidsExcel is partnering with the Lions Community Service Foundation to help primary- and secondary-going school children in their academic curriculum.

KidsExcel complements their tutoring time with workshops in sports and drama, which motivates the children to improve academically and to enjoy these popular activities offered by KidsExcel staff.

“I love interacting with the kids and I want to make a positive impact in their lives,” enthuses volunteer Ms Joycelyn Fung. “I have forged good relationships with the children and their parents. In the two years I have been here, it has been very fulfilling and rewarding to see the kids develop and grow.”

Resilience is a clear lesson learnt by KidsExcel care recipients, with 10-year-old Syakir stating that he would never give up in his pursuits, while 12-year-old Elfie proclaims: “I will never stop when I am tired, but will stop when I am done.”

Staff Madam Haznita shares: “It has been a joy working with the kids. Some came with little confidence and had difficulties adjusting, so we needed to spend time getting to know them better and help them settle. It is very rewarding to know they look forward to KidsExcel classes and seeing them every week. This is what motivates me.”

Another programme, Reading Odyssey by SHINE Children and Youth Services, helps to boost children’s literary abilities by inculcating a love for stories through story-telling and literature-related activities.

Taking these children onto journeys of the imagination to improve their linguistic capabilities are volunteers Bee Peng and Natasha. Every week, they tap into their dramatis personae and bring stories to life for the children.

“I like everything in Reading Odyssey, especially the games,” says P2 student beneficiary Kim Yan. “Teacher Bee Peng helps me to understand how the games are played. She is kind and patient. I thank her for teaching me.”

Bee Peng says: “I believe in the quality of Reading Odyssey; it has a positive impact on the lives of the children and has elements of character building. And I truly enjoy interacting with the children.”

Another P2 child, Divinya, demonstrates her newfound verbosity: “I like the games in Reading Odyssey and the snacks given out. My teacher Natasha helps me with reading unfamiliar words. If I don’t know the words, she helps me to pronounce them and tells me the meaning of the words. She is always present for the sessions, she never absents herself. She is always there for me. Thank you teacher, for teaching me and giving me lots of stars.” Divinya also expressed a wish for Natasha to continue teaching her in Reading Odyssey, a testament to the positive impact that even volunteers can have on our children.

A volunteer since 2017, Natasha believes in the programme’s aim of elevating the children’s self-confidence through learning and reading: “There are many opportunities to interact with the children via discussion of the stories, which allows me to journey with them and help them improve.”

Regardless of their motivation, it is clear from the number of children going through such programmes—about 350 and 180 annually from the KidsExcel and Reading Odyssey programmes—that programme staff and volunteers for such extracurricular activities are just as much teachers to our children as educators in school.

If you would like to support programmes such Reading Odyssey and KidsExcel in providing quality education to our children and make a difference in their lives, please visit Ways to give.

This article was written CFS Principal Consultant Reutens-Tan. He is an experienced sustainability advocate and practitioner, working closely with charities to build thriving communities, which he believes is key to a sustainable Singapore.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CFS or its members.

References

Channel New Asia. (15 September 2019). Commentary: Long-neglected but now in the spotlight, Singapore’s pre-school sectorhttps://www.channelnewsasia.com/commentary/pre-school-enhanced-subsidies-access-moe-kindergartens-859951

Ministry of Education. (18 October 2021). Compulsory education.
https://www.moe.gov.sg/primary/compulsory-education#:~:text=All%20Singapore%20Citizens%20born%20after,deferment%20to%20enter%20Primary%201
.

Ministry of Education. (Accessed 26 July 2022). Education Statistics Digest 2021
https:/www.moe.gov.sg/-/media/files/about-us/education-statistics-digest-2021.ashx?la=en&hash=9E7EFD9B8088817C207F8AE797037AAA2A49F167

MyLife Care. 20 September 2018. What Is The Difference Between ‘Learning Difficulties’ And ‘Learning Disabilities’? https://mylifehomecare.co.uk/insight/learning-difficulties-learning-disabilities-difference/#:~:text=a%20learning%20disability%20constitutes%20a,overall%20IQ%20of%20an%20individual

Raising Children. (2 July 2021). Learning difficulties and learning disorders: children and teenagers.
https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/school-learning/learning-difficulties/learning-disabilities-signs-and-support

The Straits Times. (22 October 2020). Singapore’s 15-year-olds top OECD’s Pisa global competence test.
https://str.sg/J62f

World Population Review. (Accessed 26 July 2022). Education Rankings by Country 2022.  
https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/education-rankings-by-country

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Stories Of Impact

10th Anniversary Edition – S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: How recipients turned their lives around with the gift of education

John Doe
John Doe
portrait of sr nathan

2021 marks a monumental turn of a chapter for the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF). The fund that was set up by the late former president S R Nathan enters its 10th year of fruition and continues to fulfill its purpose of providing students financial ease to allow them to flourish in their studies. 

To celebrate this anniversary, students Arshad Supa’at and Danish Said shared how their lives changed for the better through the gift of education. 

Arshad, 33 years old, is currently an undergraduate at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, majoring in Social Work. He was originally studying in Millenia Institute (MI) but dropped out of school in his first year to find a job to support his family’s finances. At that time, his father, Supa’at Sarajoo, suffered from kidney failure, which resulted in him no longer being able to work. 

After completing his national service and GCE ‘O’ level examination, Arshad enrolled in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and started work as part-time as a food deliveryman to help with expenses. Unfortunately, he was involved in a road accident and had to quit his job. With only his mother holding a part-time job to support the family, he could not turn to his family to support his education and living expenses.

His turning point came when he received assistance from the SRNEUF. The monthly allowance it provided allowed Arshad to supplement his school and daily expenses, allowing him to continue his studies whilst he recovered from the accident. He eventually went on to graduate from ITE, receiving the Tay Eng Soon Award and the Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship for Encouraging Improvement (LKY-STEP) in 2013. The SRNEUF has changed his life, allowing him to complete his education in ITE when he most needed help.

Arshad shared, “I strongly believe and am confident that education can make us equal on a social level. Regardless of your background or your social or family background, if you do your best, education can open doors for you.”

Danish is another student who has managed to turn his life around due to the aid provided by the SRNEUF.

Danish, 25 years old, had always wanted to do something related to finance, as it is an issue close to his heart. Danish enrolled in ITE at a later age compared to most of his peers as he had previously dropped out from his studies at the Republic Polytechnic when he was younger. He recounted how he had never fully focused on his education then and felt that he had unfinished business with his educational journey. Thus, he wished to prove to himself that he could do it as long as he had the right mindset. 

As the youngest in the family, he feels lucky to have been offered the SRNEUF which provides him with a monthly allowance. This allowed him to focus more on his schoolwork instead of worrying about having his parents bearing his expenses. In fact, he has taken this chance to work part-time as a food deliveryman to cover his own expenses, as well as to help his parents in managing their finances.  Danish aspires to work on his skills needed to be a financial advisor, fund manager or financial analyst, to be able to provide quality advice to help those in difficulty to manager their financial decisions. 

“My interest in finance started when I was little because my family always had to struggle just to meet our daily needs. It made me interested because I wanted to know how I could manage my finances better,” said Danish.

Throughout the years, the SRNEUF has worked with ITE to provide assistance to underprivileged students who require financial help. Since 2012, the SRNEUF has supported needy students in ITE, with a total of 1,848 bursaries disbursed over the years with a cumulative grant total of $2.47 million.

“President Nathan’s life epitomises the spirit of generosity, caring and giving. He was a tireless giver. Known to come from humble beginnings himself, he was always known to have a heart for the less privileged in society. In 2011, Mr Nathan established the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) to provide financial support to students for their education,” said Mr Bobby Chin, the Chairman of the Grant Advisory Committee of the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund.

He firmly believed that education was an important social leveller which provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their families,” he continued.

To transform lives with your giving, get in touch with us at contactus@cf.org.sg or read more about it here.

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News

The Straits Times: New youth collective to level playing field for disadvantaged young

John Doe
John Doe
Two people seated at a table with a 'City of Good' sign in the background.

By Seow Bei Yi

SINGAPORE – To help youth from disadvantaged backgrounds transition from school into the work environment, a new year-long programme will be launched this year to offer them workshops and vocational training.

Dubbed the “youth collective”, the initiative comes after a series of discussions involving 56 groups in the social service sector concluded that while education can help bridge social gaps, not every youth can fully tap its benefits.

Led by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the discussants found that economic, social and cultural differences contribute to a greater variance in academic performance among Singaporean students, compared to elsewhere.

The social gap may hence widen if disadvantaged youth here are not further helped, CFS and NVPC said.

Participants deliberated over the multiple challenges that disadvantaged youth face, with parents tending to work long hours or on shifts.

This leaves them little time to attend to their children’s learning needs, while the children often shoulder more adult responsibilities. It can result in poorer literacy and academic performance, and may lead to psychological issues such as depression and other conditions, CFS and NVPC said.

Contributing to the youth collective are a multi-national corporation, a Singapore firm, non-profit groups and researchers, CFS deputy chief executive officer Joyce Teo said yesterday. More details will be available when the project is launched later this year.

CFS and NVPC also released yesterday a 17-page guide on closing the gap for disadvantaged youth.

The youth collective is an early initiative sparked by Colabs, a series of discussions beginning last year that gathers disparate stakeholders across the social service sector to exchange ideas, including philanthropists, businesses, non-profit groups and sector experts. Colabs is led and funded by CFS and NVPC.

Explaining the need for it, NVPC Director of Strategic Partnership Darrel Lim said that, among other things, these discussions are designed to “uncover gaps in the current system and collectively devise ways to plug these gaps”.

“The challenge lies in what we call ‘wicked problems’, or very complex problems, that don’t lend themselves very well to any single party’s intervention. The only way to solve them is to bring together various parties and look at how we are working currently to serve beneficiaries, what are some of the problems that still exist, and why they exist despite everybody’s work,” he said.

Besides obtaining inputs from experts, beneficiaries and donors, the Colabs process involved a field trip and a poverty simulation exercise.

Following this first Colabs series, a second one ending in May looked at how to help those with disabilities. A third will focus on seniors. Spin-off projects from these series are likely to be announced later.

“There is information out there, but it is disparate,” said Ms Teo. “What we try to do is eventually distil that and say, there is something that we can do, and how can we go about doing it.”

“Collaboration is the way forward as the scale, scope and complexity of social issues today make it impossible for a single player or the Government to solve alone,” she added. Read more

Read the Colabs media release here.

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

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

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

 

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

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

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

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Stories Of Impact

Family of Wisdom – Caring for persons with dementia and their caregivers

John Doe
John Doe
Group of elderly sitting around a round table

Dementia is a chronic disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury. The estimated number of persons living with dementia in Singapore was 45,000 in 2015. This number is projected to increase to 103,000 by 2030.*

The Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) provides personalised daycare for persons with dementia, and offers support to their caregivers. With a long waiting list for dementia day care, the ADA came up with an initiative called Family of Wisdom (FOW) to address the need.

In the Family of Wisdom, a group of persons with dementia and their caregivers would gather to interact and engage in various activities such as memory games, baking, craft, painting, physical exercises and occasional outings. Persons are grouped according to their stage of dementia, spoken language, age, gender, educational profile and interest. The goal of the programme is to improve the clients’ well-being as some of them would become depressed and apathetic due to their cognitive impairment.

To run the programme, ADA needed funding to create an environment that was safe and conducive for persons with dementia and their caregivers. Facilitated by the Community Foundation of Singapore, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) stepped in to provide funding for the operating costs of the Family of Wisdom at Bendemeer.

ADA piloted the Family of Wisdom in September 2013 with 15 clients. Today, the programme serves some 100 clients through 12 sessions conducted on a weekly basis.

A caregiver shared that his loved one looked forward to attending the FOW programme. As for himself, he appreciated having the time to sit down and chitchat over a cup of coffee, comforted by the fact that he was not alone in his caregiving journey.

(*Source: Alzheimers Disease International, Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region, Nov 2014)

Photos: Alzheimer’s Disease Association

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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.

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