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Four ways to give back through the arts
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Opinion

Four ways to give back through the arts

John Doe
John Doe
a group of people in a room with a stage and a group of people in chairs

To put things into perspective: giving to the arts means more than just supporting a company’s artistic endeavours – support for the arts helps build a more inclusive society and brings benefits to the community in many ways.

Many of Singapore’s artists, art companies and institutions are passionate about social causes, and make it part of their mission to give back through the work they do. These efforts often go beyond cultivating art appreciation, to include efforts to reach out to the less privileged, nurture the young and bring the joy of the arts to a wider audience.

To help navigate the dynamic field of the arts, we have identified key areas in which the arts is making strides within the local community:

Arts education
An arts education is considered vital in helping children develop creativity and imagination – key skills to thrive in the future economy. These efforts can be bolstered by supporting spaces for early arts exposure, such as the Keppel Centre for Art Education at the National Gallery Singapore, or access to dedicated arts training and programmes as exemplified by The Rice CompanyArt Outreach Singapore and Playeum.

Alongside their artistic season, many local arts companies have also developed outreach programmes for children and youths, including Singapore Repertory TheatreThe Necessary StageOdyssey Dance TheatreThe Fingers PlayersThe Theatre PracticeTheatreWorks and Temenggong Artists-In-Residence.

Active aging
Empowering our seniors to lead meaningful, active lives is a priority for Singapore, and the arts can play a significant role. Events such as the National Arts Council’s Silver Arts Festival have demonstrated how the arts offer seniors a safe space to try new activities, and also a platform to engage their minds through enjoying a performance or work of art, as exemplified by Beautiful Mind Charity which runs free concerts at various elderly homes. The Singapore Chinese Orchestra plays to patients and healthcare workers in hospitals and care centres through its ‘Caring Series’ to provide the healing touch through music.

Others like contemporary dance outfit The Arts Fission Company have channelled art towards practical benefits. The company runs Everyday Waltzes for Active Aging, a programme which utilises movement to help the elderly maintain strong core muscles and reduce their risk of falling.

Mental health
In some instances, the arts contributes to the mental health of different segments of our society by helping to recognise and bring deep issues to light. Take for instance theatre company Drama Box, which develops theatrical work mirroring our social fabric. The company has worked with many marginalised and underserved groups, including migrant workers, out-of-school youths and the elderly, and continues to use theatre to explore important social issues from mental health, dying, resilience and identity.

Special needs
The arts celebrates the value of every human being, making it a natural fit when it comes to engaging individuals with special needs and disabilities. Superhero Me, a ground-up inclusive arts movement turned charity, has been championing the power of art to bring joy and empowerment to children from needy families and those with special needs.

Arts companies can also use their expertise to give back. Contemporary dance company RAW Moves runs A Little RAW, an inclusive children’s dance company bringing dance to children with special needs, while Beautiful Mind Charity has been offering free professional music education to children with disabilities since 2014.

Photo: National Arts Council

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Opinion

Four critical gaps in improving employability for all

John Doe
John Doe
Four people in green shirts working on soil in a gardening project.

A person in a wheelchair with much to give. A stay-at-home mum who misses working. An ex-offender who yearns for a second chance. A senior forced to retire early. These are some examples of people who want to work. They believe they can contribute to society. They also deserve the basic right to work and should not be denied from doing so.

Yet, many of them face difficulties in securing decent jobs. In recent years, the gig economy opened up opportunities for individuals facing barriers to traditional employment or those who need flexibility. However, gig work comes with its own set of challenges, such as unstable income and a lack of employment benefits.

Through our years on the ground partnering with local charities, social service agencies and research organisations, we at CFS have identified four groups – ex-inmates, persons with disabilities (PWDs), seniors, and women – that face challenges in securing gainful employment due to bias, unfair practices, or lack of accessibility. This, in turn, can lock them and their families in a vicious cycle of hardship. 

Employment needs to become more inclusive and provide fair opportunities to everyone. In Singapore, workplace anti-discrimination guidelines are being enshrined into law, but there is still more work to be done. This is where philanthropy can make a significant difference. At CFS, we connect donors with charities and programmes that uplift the employability of marginalised people.

We work with charities that build awareness of individual and structural barriers in the workplace and advocate for change. They are also empowering disenfranchised job seekers by providing skills training, job matching, mentoring and more. Read on to learn about the realities faced by disadvantaged people and how you can help.

Building Disability-Inclusive Workplaces 

About 15 per cent of the global population, or over one billion individuals, have a disability. This makes persons with disabilities (PWDs) one of the world’s biggest minority groups (World Bank, 2023). In Singapore, only 30 per cent of PWDs of working age are employed. The government hopes to raise this figure to 40 per cent by 2030 (The Straits Times, 17 August 2022). Barriers include the prevailing bias that disabled people are less productive and troublesome to accommodate in the workplace.  

Organisations like the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) and SG Enable, an agency for disability, are striving to change attitudes and help employers create disability-friendly workplaces. Companies are also encouraged to open up work-from-home opportunities to those who are less mobile. Hiring more PWDs and giving them meaningful careers will translate to overall gains in labour force productivity for Singapore going forward.  

Attracting Female Talent to Close the Gender Gap 

Better education and changes in attitudes towards gender-based roles have paved the way for more women to have careers. Between 2012 and 2021, Singapore’s female labour force participation grew from 57.7 per cent to 64.2 per cent. However, it still remains lower than men’s at 77.2 per cent (Statista). 

The gender gap emerges when women enter their 30s. This is typically the age when they assume more care responsibilities (Ministry of Manpower, 2022). Women continue to bear the brunt of caregiving and domestic responsibilities while juggling work. The gap, unfortunately, widens over time. Taking time off work can complicate re-entry into the workplace, creating knock-on effects throughout a women’s career. 

Yet, there is a clear business imperative to leveraging female talent. Gender diversity benefits companies as women often contribute different skills and perspectives, boosting growth, innovation, and productivity (International Monetary Fund, 2018).

While a growing number of organisations are waking up to this, there is much more room for female-friendly recruitment and retention practices. This includes flexible working arrangements, opportunities for progression and leadership, and help for mothers returning to work.

Reintegrating Ex-offenders into the Economy  

Ex-offenders are among the most marginalised and stigmatised people in our community. They face unique challenges in finding and sustaining gainful employment. Just 53 per cent of ex-offenders found jobs three months after their release – a figure that has stayed stagnant between 2017 and 2019 (Ministry of Home Affairs, 2020).

One reason is that ex-offenders who spend long periods in jail may not have the skills that are in demand, such as digital expertise. Moreover, with their limited social networks, they tend to be disconnected from market trends, knowledge of training opportunities and subsidies. That instantly puts them on a weaker footing.

Progress has been made through the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Employment Preparation Scheme, which allows ex-offenders to attend training and educational activities outside of prison during their sentences. But more can be done to help ex-offenders avoid a vicious circle. Without good jobs and long-term employment prospects, it will be harder for ex-offenders to rebuild their lives, placing them at a high risk of reoffending. 

Addressing Age-Based Employment Discrimination  

Three in four workers in Singapore do not intend to retire before 65 (The Straits Times, 3 July 2022). For many older people, working provides income and purpose and bolsters their physical and mental well-being.

Despite this, age was cited as the top reason for prejudice towards older jobseekers in a Ministry of Manpower survey (Today, 23 March 2022). Older people are stereotyped as “slow” and “less trainable”. Some may be less educated, putting them at risk of being displaced by technology. Employers may prefer to train younger employees, who are seen as having more room to grow.

The issue is especially pressing as Singapore is fast becoming a super-aged society. While upcoming anti-discrimination laws will help, companies should also take the lead and build a multigenerational workforce. Older workers bring experience and a diversity of views to the table, which will be a source of strength.  

How You Can Help

With your generosity, you could help fund programmes that improve the employability of disadvantaged Singaporeans struggling to find work. As a cause-neutral philanthropic advisor, CFS is well-placed to help you navigate the various programmes available and tailor a giving plan based on your goals and interests. 

Efforts to address barriers to employment fall into three broad areas:

  • Development of skillsets (educational, technical/vocational training, and soft skills development) 
  • Exposure to career pathways (employer engagement and career support) 
  • Encouraging sustainable careers (getting supervisors and colleagues to accommodate marginalised individuals)

The simplest and most cost-effective way to help fund different programmes that tackle employability is by setting up a donor-advised fund (DAF). An individual, a beneficiary of a will, a trust, or a family office can set up a DAF. CFS will handle all fund administration and leverage our experience and network to ensure your giving is targeted, accountable and impactful.  

As a donor, you will save on legal expenses and enjoy upfront tax deductions at the prevailing rate on eligible donations. Donors will also receive regular statements tracking incoming donations to their DAF and outgoing disbursements to charities. CFS has an established track record when it comes to setting up DAFs. CFS is the first to bring in DAFs into Singapore and is currently the largest provider with over 220 DAFs and Community Impact Funds.  

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

References

International Monetary Fund. (28 November 2018). Economic Gains from Gender Inclusion: Even Greater than You Thoughthttps://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2018/11/28/blog-economic-gains-from-gender-inclusion-even-greater-than-you-thought

Ministry of Home Affairs. (14 October 2020). Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Employment Rate of Ex-offenders, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law. https://www.mha.gov.sg/mediaroom/parliamentary/written-reply-to-parliamentary-question-on-the-employment-rate-of-ex-offenders-by-mr-k-shanmugam-minister-for-home-affairs-and-minister-for-law/ 

Ministry of Manpower. (1 December 2022). Summary Table: Labour Force. https://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Labour-Force-Summary-Table.aspx 

Statista. Labor force participation rate of women in Singapore from 2012 to 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/951113/singapore-female-labor-force-participation-rate/

The Straits Times. (17 August 2022). Singapore aims to have 40% of working-age persons with disabilities employed by 2030. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-aims-to-have-40-per-cent-of-working-age-persons-with-disabilities-employed-by-2030

The Straits Times. (3 July 2022). 3 in 4 older workers don’t intend to retire before 65; reasons include staying active, having purpose. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jobs/3-in-4-older-workers-dont-intend-to-retire-before-65-reasons-include-staying-active-having-purpose 

Today. (23 March 2022). Discrimination against workers and jobseekers declined, but ageism still prevalent: MOM survey. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/discrimination-workers-jobseekers-declined-ageism-prevalent-mom-survey-1851551

World Bank. (3 April 2023). Disability Inclusion.
https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/disability#:~:text=Persons%20with%20disabilities%2C%20on%20average,outcomes%20than%20persons%20without%20disabilities.&text=Results-,One%20billion%20people%2C%20or%2015%25%20of%20the%20world’s%20population%2C,is%20higher%20for%20developing%20countries.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

中心“常胜将军”胡锦盛:比赛限时反应要快

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

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News

Lianhe Zaobao: By encouraging participation in interest groups to improve skills, youth collective helps students plan their careers

John Doe
John Doe
People showcasing how to pitch a tent

王晓亚
工艺教育中区学院的谭嘉燕参与学校的户外探险兴趣小组,成功克服恐惧完成绑紧跳,并学到野外求生技能,让她在职业规划上多了选择,考虑未来成为一名露营指导员。

一次绑紧跳的经验,让19岁的谭嘉燕在成长过程中经历改变,也用所学到的新技能为未来职场做好准备。

谭嘉燕目前就读于工艺教育中区学院人力资源与行政系一年级,因喜欢户外活动,两个月前加入学校的户外探险兴趣小组,并跟许多其他科系的同学一起参加为期三天的户外露营。

其间,参与绑紧跳让她印象深刻。她说,自己原本就惧高,从没想过有朝一日会有勇气从七层高楼跳下去。“以前参加过的露营,只要是高空项目我都无法完成。但这次同学和指导员不断鼓励我,我就跳下去了。”

跳下的一瞬间,谭嘉燕对于自己的勇气感到惊喜,战胜恐惧后也更有信心面对生活的挑战。

此次别具意义的户外露营经验,也让谭嘉燕学会如生火、煮饭、搭帐篷等不少野外求生技能,让她在未来职业规划中有了更多选择。“兴趣小组还与企业或机构合作,让我在之后有机会去实习和进修,也许未来能够成为一名真正的露营指导员。”

户外探险是新加坡青年影响组织(Singapore Youth Impact Collective)旗下项目的兴趣小组之一,该组织昨早于工艺教育中区学院为两个新项目及一间名为“APTITUDE”的新活动中心举行开幕仪式。

青年影响组织在2017年由樟宜基金会、触爱社会服务及新加坡社会基金会等六家企业组成,目的在于通过鼓励工教院的学生参与不同兴趣小组,教导相关技能,帮助他们提升专业课程之外的职场技能。

除了兴趣小组,新开幕的APTITUDE活动中心设有沙发、会议桌、电玩机及多款桌面游戏卡牌等休闲设施,是学生课余时间交流玩耍的安全场所。

截至目前,青年影响组织已为项目投放近100万元运转资金,开放给年龄介于17至25岁的工教院学生。主办方希望在未来三年内让230名学生受益。
Read more.

Tan Jiayan of ITE College Central participated in the school’s outdoor adventure interest group and successfully overcame her fear of bungee jumping, as well as learnt outdoor skills. This in turn provides her with more choices in career planning, and she is considering becoming an outdoor instructor in the future.

The experience of bungee jumping enables 19-year-old Tan Jiayan to develop life skills, and also prepares her for the future workplace with the new skills she has picked up.

Tan Jiayan is currently enrolled as a first year student of Human Resource and Administration at ITE College Central. She likes outdoor activities and joined the school’s outdoor adventure interest group two months ago, participating in a three-day outdoor camp with other students.

The bungee jump left an impression on her. She has a fear of heights, and never thought that she would have the courage to jump from a seven-story building. “In previous camps, I couldn’t complete any high-altitude activities. But this time, with the encouragement of my course mates and instructors, I could do it.”

At the moment of jumping, Tan Jiayan was pleasantly surprised by her courage. After overcoming her fear, she is more confident to face other challenges in life.

This unique outdoor camping experience also allowed Tan Jiayan to learn a range of outdoor skills such as fire-starting, cooking, tent pitching, so that she has more choices in her career planning. “The interest group also works with companies or organisations which may offer me opportunities of internship or further training, and maybe become a real outdoor instructor in the future.”

Outdoor adventure is one of the interest groups enabled by the Singapore Youth Impact Collective, which launched two new programmes and an event centre called ‘APTITUDE’ at ITE College Central yesterday.

The Singapore Youth Impact Collective consists of six organisations including Changi Foundation, TOUCH Community Services and the Community Foundation of Singapore. It aims to help students from the college to improve their professional skills by encouraging them to participate in different interest groups and pick up workplace skills.

In addition to the interest group, the newly opened APTITUDE centre also has leisure facilities such as sofas, conference tables, video games and a variety of table games. It is a safe place for students to socialise and play in their spare time.

Up till now, the Singapore Youth Impact Collective has invested nearly $1 million in operating funds to support the programmes which are open to students of ITE colleges between the ages of 17 and 25. The organisers hope to benefit 230 students over the next three years.

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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Events

Lunar New Year 2018 – Celebrating a decade of growing giving to impact

John Doe
John Doe
a man holding a microphone speaking

CFS’s 10th anniversary celebrations kicked off to a wonderful start with a Lunar New Year lunch on 1 March.

Themed “A decade of giving and gratitude”, the event was a testament to CFS’s journey from a quiet start-up a decade ago to a thriving organisation today.

Attended by some 120 donors, charities and partners, the room was filled with a spirited sense of bonding. In his opening speech, Chairman Laurence Lien reflected on CFS’s beginnings during the 2009 Global Financial Crisis when few prospects wanted to talk about philanthropy. “Surviving the first five years was an achievement,” he expressed, citing the setting up of the Outing for the Elderly Fund and the S R Nathan Education Upliftment fund as early endorsements of CFS’s capabilities.

Striking a poignant note in his last year as CFS’s Chairman, Laurence also left several memorable parting thoughts – from inviting donors to be part-owners of CFS to encouraging all to embrace collaboration through their own donor communities.

There were endless conversations in a convival atmosphere as old ties were renewed and new connections were made between donors and charities. In the spirit of collaboration, Deputy CEO Joyce Teo provided an update on Colabs – an initiative between CFS and NVPC announced a year ago.. Her speech shone a light on Colabs’ objective of tackling social issues by bringing together diverse players and signalled forthcoming initiatives focused on disadvantaged children and youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.

Rounding off the lunch, CEO Catherine Loh thanked donors for their trust in CFS, which has resulted in many donors embracing new and innovative approaches to philanthropy. She signalled CFS will focus on Collaboration, Legacy and Impact to tackle issues arising from a rapidly ageing population, technological disruptions and income inequality. To this end, CFS will build on its strong foundation to help even more donors experience the benefits of committed and sustained giving.

We look forward to the exciting months ahead as we continue to mark this milestone year and drive community philanthropy forward.

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News

The Business Times: Collective action to meet community needs sustainably

John Doe
John Doe
people sitting in groups to discuss

AS companies today find themselves caught between the dilemma of limited resources and the compelling desire to create social impact, it is increasingly apparent that the key lies in collective solutions.

Challenges facing our society are ever-changing and usually stem from multiple root causes. Therefore, systemic solutions for such issues need collective knowledge, resources and will.

Credit Suisse, alongside NVPC and Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), hence formed a working group to provide education for disadvantaged children and CoLABS was launched on Feb 8, 2017.

…..CoLABS is a collaborative platform that enables companies to not only deepen their understanding about education needs but also bring about scalable impact and a platform for risk diversification and creation of innovation solutions. Read more.

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