By Genevieve Ding of APC

On 10 January 2019, the Asia Philanthropy Circle (APC) convened a Singapore roundtable on the topic of ‘Inequality’. This time, to spur dialogue to action, APC, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), selected three intervention initiatives which aim to promote social inclusivity in Singapore, and organised a pitch session to invite member partnership and funding of these projects.

Members were presented with a proposed primary research to establish living income benchmark, an integrated programme supporting disadvantaged children and a collective impact model that addresses youth unemployment.

This event is a follow-up from a roundtable in 2018 exploring the state of inequality in Singapore, with Assoc. Prof Teo You Yenn from Nanyang Technological University, discussing the lessons from her bestselling book, ‘This is what Inequality Looks Like’. In the book, Assoc. Prof Teo eloquently gives voice to the realities of unequal life circumstances in Singapore. To further unveil the lived realities of Singaporeans at all levels of society, Assoc. Prof Teo, together with Asst. Prof Ng Kok Hoe from the National University of Singapore, presented their proposed study on the budgets that different types of household need for a basic standard of living in Singapore. Their study would inform a benchmark of how much people need in order to live adequately, which could guide the planning of welfare schemes in Singapore.

On the topic of inclusive education, Ms Ng Kar Yee from the People’s Association and Ms Wu Meiling from SHINE Children and Youth Services presented their holistic education model for children from disadvantaged families. In Singapore, education has high aspirations as a social leveller but stumbles in the face of an uneven playing field. The presenters highlight the lack of collaborative approach from organisations to provide holistic, integrated care for primary school children. The Integrated Care Programme that they have been running aims to create a child-centric ecosystem of care for at-risk children.

The pitch session ended with the presentation of a collective impact initiative – the Singapore Youth Impact Collective – to improve the work-readiness of disadvantaged young people through skills development and vocational training. Representing CFS, which has taken on the project as the backbone organisation, Ms Joyce Teo shared that youths at-risk make up approximately 17% of the total population in Singapore. Significantly, those in the low income brackets have the least educational pathways, and young people from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds find it very challenging to find employment with promises of job stability and upward career progression.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Laurence Lien, APC CEO and CFS Chairman shared the sentiment behind hosting the pitch session at the Community Foundation of Singapore. The vision of CFS is for the community to take initiative and lead efficacious ground-up interventions. Mr Lien emphasised that a community of supporters sends a much stronger message for social intervention. He explained that while the exit strategy of most initiatives is for the government to adopt large-scale intervention, there is a need for philanthropists to first try new, innovative models and blaze paths not ventured by the government. Philanthropy needs to explore and show new ways of doing things.

Members who are interested to know more are encouraged to either approach the organisations directly or contact APC to coordinate further follow up: membership@asiaphilanthropycircle.org

This article was originally published on Asia Philanthropy Circle’s newsletter at: http://www.asiaphilanthropycircle.org/singapore-roundtable-the-pitch-for-social-inclusivity/