2 new funds help almost 60 projects

A scene from The Kingdom And The Beauty, an opera performance by the Singapore Hainan Society. The show played to students from different races.

Two funds set up a year ago - one to promote religious and racial harmony, the other to support youth-led projects - have already helped almost 60 projects between them.

The $100 million National Youth Fund is being disbursed over 20 years to beneficiaries including youth organisations, youth social enterprises, schools and institutes of higher learning.

Set up by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and administered by the National Youth Council, it funds up to 80 per cent of approved projects and has helped 30 to date.

The $5 million Harmony Fund was also set up by the MCCY and is being disbursed over three years to projects promoting religious and racial harmony.

Among its 28 beneficiaries to date has been the Singapore Hainan Society. Last December, it held a performance which for the first time was targeted at an audience wider than just Singapore's Hainanese population.

Using screens showing English subtitles, The Kingdom And The Beauty played to an audience of more than 100 students of different ethnic backgrounds at the Esplanade.

The society's opera producer Michael Lim said: "With more money, we can perform for more people at larger venues like the Esplanade. The Harmony Fund also gives us more incentive to reach people of different races."

Grants from the Harmony Fund cover up to 80 per cent of an approved project's net costs, up to a limit of $100,000.

An MCCY spokesman told The Straits Times that there has been a growing number of projects organised by youth groups targeted at their peers, adding that it hopes to see more which are "jointly organised by applicants from different communities".

Voluntary welfare organisation Care Corner Singapore is a beneficiary of the National Youth Fund, which has contributed to its Youth Rangers Programme that teaches teenagers about character development.

Mr Justin Zhou, head of youth services at Care Corner's Crossroad Youth Centre, said: "The funding helps to defray the costs of camps and this ultimately benefits youth."

Mr Sim Choon Siong, a member of the fund's advisory committee, said: "We're looking to further support projects that can build up the capability of youth sector organisations and develop young leaders and role models."

Who benefits from the funds?

Harmony Fund Beneficiaries

The Singapore Hainan Society held an opera performance last December and invited students of different races to watch the show, assisting them by displaying English subtitles on screens.

Xperience 3Sixty was a cultural event held by Maya Dance Theatre in Little India last September. It included a dance production in which performers of different races showcased friendship and teamwork.

A football tournament held by the Young Sikh Association in February this year featured teams made up of players from different ethnic groups.

National Youth Fund Beneficiaries

Care Corner Singapore offers a Youth Rangers Programme, which aims to develop young leaders aged 13 to 17 through character development and community service.

The Law Society of Singapore's LegaleSE initiative provides social entrepreneurs with legal information that is required to run a business with a cause.

Start(ed) is an online platform to help students set up community projects with the help of non-profit organisations. It was created by Start Now, a social enterprise which creates technological solutions for the social service sector. goyshiyi@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 7 in The Straits Times.

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