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

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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

Healing and hope for migrant workers

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Our decade-long partnership with HealthServe has helped Singapore’s only medical charity for migrant workers bring healthcare, mental health support and social assistance to this underserved community. CFS is commemorating 15 years of giving and this story is one of a three-part series that highlights the strong relationships CFS has fostered with charities over the years. 

They have helped me with everything. If I ever had a problem at the hospital, with my company or dormitory, they would step in. Here, I don’t have family. But HealthServe has helped me like family.

Like many migrant workers, Shah* came to Singapore to provide a better life for his family in Bangladesh. But soon after he arrived, he was struck with inflammatory bowel disease, causing gastric issues, skin problems and chest pain. All this came on top of the devastating diagnosis of his father’s cancer and his wife’s stomach ulcers. 

Shah was under immense pressure to take on loans to pay for multiple mounting medical bills in excess of $16,000. The financial and emotional stress caused his health to worsen. He is not alone in facing unexpected hardships while trying to provide for family back home. Close to one million low-wage foreign workers reside in Singapore. Access to affordable healthcare is limited for many of them and none were prepared, mentally or physically, for the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Joining forces to help an underserved community

Thousands of migrant workers were quarantined in cruise ships, hotels and dormitories when Covid-19 hit Singapore’s shores. Many struggled mentally, feeling helpless. Others needed medical care. These hardships became the catalyst for the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) to join hands with our long-time charity partner, HealthServe, and help this underserved community. CFS decided to pool donations into a Collective Impact Fund called the Sayang Sayang Fund. With a grant from this fund and other funders, HealthServe was able to deliver much-needed medical attention, mental health support and social assistance to approximately 7,500 workers. For these foreign workers on the margins of society, HealthServe offered healing and hope.

Alongside these grants, CFS supported HealthServe with grants from the KrisFam Fund and the Kampong Spirit Fund. The KrisFam Fund grant enabled HealthServe to treat workers with serious chronic health conditions and extend financial aid to those in need while the Kampong Spirit Fund grant allowed the charity to provide the migrant community with meals and groceries amid the on-off pandemic lockdowns in 2021. For beneficiaries whose illness or injuries made it impossible for them to work, the much-needed help and donations came as a huge relief. In all, HealthServe made about 470 visits to foreign worker dormitories across Singapore.

The continuation of a long and rewarding partnership 

HealthServe started as a small clinic providing medical and dental services to the vulnerable migrant-worker community in 2006. Today, HealthServe offers a range of expanded services comprising mental health programmes and counselling, casework support for injuries and salary-related issues, and other forms of social assistance, much of it supported by grants and donations facilitated by CFS.  Our partnership with this unique charity goes back to 2013.

Over the past 16 years, HealthServe has remained mission-focused in serving low-wage migrant workers who fall through the cracks, even as we tackle constant challenges and headwinds such as post-pandemic dips in both donations and volunteers. Only with your continued trust and support can we do more. We look forward to actively leading every migrant worker in need towards a life of health, well-being, and dignity, with you.

Dr Benjamin Kuan, CEO, HealthServe Ltd

HealthServe’s commitment to migrant workers’ holistic health, well-being and dignity aligns with our focus on promoting mental well-being and healthcare to marginalised communities.

“CFS has helped educate donors and stakeholders about the plight of this very underserved segment of society. As a result, HealthServe’s mission is more well understood,” says Dr Benjamin Kuan, CEO of HealthServe. “The partnership between HealthServe and CFS has grown, with CFS shifting its vision to long-term outcomes, aligning with HealthServe’s goal of preventive care, which is also in line with the nation’s Healthier SG strategy.” 

Philanthropic support is critical

Largely volunteer run, HealthServe operates with a small staff team and hundreds of medical and non-medical volunteers and interns. Fundraising can be a challenge, especially now that reduced charitable dollars tend to go towards causes supporting Singapore citizens post-pandemic. Philanthropic support from CFS donors therefore remains crucial. 

“Over the years, CFS has demonstrated its ability to form strategic partnerships to deliver funds to the community in the fastest and most effective way and HealthServe is confident that our partnership with CFS will remain relevant in serving the underserved segments in society,” says Dr Kuan.

We are proud to maintain a long-term partnership with HealthServe and are committed to working with other like-minded charities to bring greater support to Mental Well-being as a cause and to create greater impact for the underserved communities.

CFS is celebrating our anniversary throughout 2023—15 years of empowering donors to make a meaningful impact. Since our inception in 2008, we have received over S$292 million in donations in Singapore and disbursed over S$157 million in grants to over 400 charity partners.  

To discover how you can make a difference, please visit www.cf.org.sg/contact-us/get-in-touch/ 

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Stories Of Impact

Motivating trainees towards a brighter future

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The new S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme spurs trainees from ITE’s Traineeship Scheme to reach for a better future.

In recent years, Singapore’s education system has been seeking to move beyond academic grades to a more holistic approach towards learning. Seeking to change broader mindsets towards the value of applied learning and work experience, Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has been steadily championing a ‘work-study’ approach through its Traineeship Scheme.

For a group of fresh secondary-school leavers, the scheme offers a much-needed alternative pathway. The course equips students with relevant industry skills – leading to both a nationally-recognised certification and career progression – while also allowing them to earn a monthly salary as they learn.

In September 2019, the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) launched the S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme, which supports financially-needy students from the ITE Traineeship Scheme.

Managed by the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), the SRNEUF has been supporting full-time ITE students in need since 2012. With CFS’s facilitation, the S R Nathan Book Prize & Special Assistance Scheme was established this year in response to ITE’s appeal to extend support to trainees, many of whom come from families in challenging financial circumstances.

Similar to full-time ITE student profile, majority of students in the Traineeship Scheme are from lower-income households . While salaries for trainees start from $1000 before CPF deductions, trainees generally do not receive their income until their second month at work.

“We want to help this group of trainees because they are a group helping themselves by heading straight to the workforce after secondary school,” says Mr Aw York Bin, Deputy CEO (Industry). Joining the workforce is an uphill task for these young students, as they have to adapt to work-life while juggling academic commitments. “The S R Nathan Book Prize is an encouragement for them to persevere and complete the course,” he adds.

Additionally, the S R Nathan Special Assistance Scheme will help students from the lowest income tier with food and transportation for the first month before they receive their first salary. Lee Geok Teng, a student in Nitec in Business Services, remarks, “The traineeship has been a good way for me to be financially independent and enables me to pay my own phone bills and insurance.”

Ruthra Vaitheshwari D/O Thiagarajen, who is currently pursuing a Higher Nitec in Service Management, recalls the physical strain of managing work and her studies in her first three months. She says, “This award encouraged me further. The moment I received the prize from Mrs S R Nathan, I felt I should work harder.”

Muhammad Fadzrin Adzri B Adnan, a trainee who has worked at the Sheraton Towers Singapore Hotel, says the traineeship has helped him build an edge for his future career. “Receiving this book prize is very unexpected and a motivation for all the trainees who have worked hard in this course,” he says.

Remarking on ITE’s long-term partnership with CFS, Mr Aw commented, “CFS has opened many doors for us over the years to reach out to potential donors and to raise awareness of the needs of vulnerable students. Their advice has been invaluable, as well as their capacity to facilitate conversations around the evolving needs of our students.”

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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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Events

CFS wins Charity Transparency Award for the second time

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It is important that we continue to work together to foster a safe giving environment for Singaporeans, so that we can support the causes we believe in. So that Singaporeans can step forward to support the causes that they believe in with a peace of mind.

For the second time, the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) is greatly honoured to have won the Charity Transparency Award at the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards 2022. The accolade, given out by the Charity Council, recognises CFS’s exemplary disclosure and transparency practices. 

CFS was one of 85 charities that received the Charity Transparency Awards this year. This is the highest tally since the awards were launched in 2016 and is an encouraging sign that more charities are implementing better transparency practices. The record number also indicates that disclosure and accountability standards are strengthening in Singapore’s philanthropic sector. 

The ceremony was held on 9 November 2022 and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister of Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law graced the occasion. Our Chairperson, Ms. Christine Ong, received the award from the Commissioner of Charities, Mr. Desmond Chin. Organised by the Charity Council, the Charity Transparency and Governance Awards lauds nonprofits for their stellar efforts in upholding governance and building public trust in the sector. 

At CFS, transparency is a critical element of the philanthropic equation. “Transparency builds trust and ultimately leads to better engagement and giving,” says Catherine Loh, CEO of CFS. “We believe in being open about our organisation, performance, priorities, and impact and communicating this clearly with all stakeholders. As a leading foundation and grantmaker, CFS is grateful to be a repeat winner of the Charity Transparency Award. We will continue to strive for the highest standards of transparency to honour the trust placed in us by our donors and to continuously improve to better serve our charity partners, funders, and the wider public,” she adds. 

Since our inception in 2012, good corporate governance has been a central pillar of our operations and management. CFS is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of experienced and dedicated professionals from the private, public, and social services sectors. The Board ensures that CFS’s work is effective and responsible, monitors outcomes, and is accountable to donors and regulators. 

As an organisation that bridges donors and charities, CFS is committed to uplifting standards and sharing knowledge within the philanthropic ecosystem in Singapore. We regularly make available information about our activities, programmes, operations, audited financials, Board, and management through our annual reports, website, and social media pages. 

CFS is thankful to our Board of Directors for their expert guidance and leadership, which has helped transform us into a leading philanthropic intermediary in Singapore. We would also like to thank our many partners, our growing community of donors, and our supporters for their continued trust in our work to make giving more accessible and impactful.

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News

A Call for Collaborative Giving: Closing the Gap for Disadvantaged Young Persons

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"A Call for Collaborative Giving" Graphic

The first Colabs publication discusses the challenges that disadvantaged young persons face at home, such as an unconducive family environment. It examines how these challenges impacted the young persons’ educational attainment and social mobility, and offers suggestions as to how givers could collaborate to close the gap for these individuals. The publication, based on the collective insights of over 100 participants who contributed during the series, can be downloaded here.

Speaking after the association’s annual general meeting at Kallang Netball Centre on Friday, Liang-Lin, a fund manager for a US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) firm focused on green real estate investments in Asia, hopes to bring her expertise to the table and increase the amount of financial support for Singapore netball during her four-year term.

The 53-year-old took over from Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jessica Tan, who has been the association’s president since 2012. Tan had reached the end of her tenure, which saw the national team make several breakthroughs, including a gold medal at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

Liang-Lin holds various appointments such as being Singapore’s representative to the G20 for Women appointed by the Ministry of Finance. She is also a board member of the Community Foundation of Singapore, which promotes philanthropy through facilitating the establishment of charitable funds.

She said: “One of the things that is overlooked when we look at philanthropy and fundraising is that sport is not really part of the things that people will automatically think about.

“Less than one per cent of the funds that we raise in the Community Foundation goes to sport. The values that sport brings need to be amplified more, so that corporates… see the need to support sport. I think that link needs to be stronger so that we get not just more corporate sponsors, but also they can come in for longer periods of time.”

While national agency Sport Singapore provides funding to netball, corporates can also do their part, she added.

She said: “If we play our cards correctly, we can get corporates to come in and hopefully support them, to see the wider purpose of sport and bring the nation together.”

She also hopes the association can be proactive in looking for financial support, adding: “We must work more strategically with governing bodies on educating corporates on the importance of really supporting sport.”

The former netball player also made references to the recent Women’s World Cup for football, noting the “ability for a game that focuses on women in the sport to bring global attention”.

She said: “I want that kind of trajectory of the limelight going to women’s sport. I think that is a trend that will continue, and I hope that netball will be part of that trend.”

Meanwhile, Tan was satisfied that she has achieved the three objectives she had set out to do when she came on board – to improve quality of play, build a fan base and create an ecosystem which involves coaches and players.

The 57-year-old added: “As much as I do feel sad about having to step down, but at the same time, leadership renewal is very important.

“I think Trina will help to galvanise the team together, and bring a lot of new perspectives and quality to the association.”

Join us in making an impact on Singapore sports scene! Reach out to us for more information.

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 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”。

Picture of admin bluecube
admin bluecube

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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