President's Challenge to support new programmes tackling existing gaps

The President's Challenge 2014 will fund new schemes to tackle existing service gaps and experiment with new approaches for selected groups, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Tuesday noon.

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Here is President Tony Tan's speech:

I am delighted to be here this afternoon to launch President's Challenge 2014. The President's Challenge is very close to my heart. I believe Singaporeans want to play a part to make the lives of our fellow citizens a little better. President's Challenge provides one such opportunity.

In 2013, the President's Challenge raised close to $11.5 million for the Community Chest and 54 Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWO) serving needy and vulnerable Singaporeans.

Besides raising funds for worthy causes, I encourage Singaporeans to give their time and expertise. Last year, nearly a thousand regular volunteers received training under the President's Challenge Volunteer Drive. This helps them become more skilled and effective in their area of volunteer work. The effort was well-received by both volunteers and VWOs.

The President's Challenge also promotes social enterprises. Last year, we matched the winners of the President's Challenge Social Enterprise Awards to six established corporations which provided pro-bono advisory services and mentoring to the social enterprises. I hope this will help them grow further and make a larger social impact.

I am very heartened by the strong support received in 2013. With your continued support, the President's Challenge 2014 will continue to promote the giving of money, time and enterprise to create an engaged and inclusive society.

New Elements in PC2014

Fund raising will remain a key component of President's Challenge 2014. Our social service sector must continue to evolve as our population's profile and needs change. For this reason, I have decided that this year, we will fund new pilot programmes that address service gaps or experiment with new approaches useful for selected groups. The funding will be on top of our support for ongoing programmes that continue to be important and relevant.

One example is Community in Action, a new programme which the National Council of Social Service is working on with various partners. To be piloted in Ang Mo Kio, this programme will involve different groups - children with disabilities, children from lower income families as well as seniors. I believe such a programme is timely and addresses several urgent needs.

The programme activities, such as reading, interaction and drama programmes, will provide stimulation for and identify developmental delays of children from lower income families. It also offers respite care and support services for caregivers of children with disabilities as they will have the opportunity to interact with and get support from other caregivers. The seniors will be involved in leading the various activities. Most importantly, this project aims to improve social integration and enhance independence of children with disabilities.

Through programmes such as Community in Action, our VWOs are developing new ways to address the needs of our community as they evolve. The President's Challenge will support such efforts to help rejuvenate the social sector to serve our community better.

This year's fundraising effort under President's Challenge is also special because of the Care and Share scheme, which isa nationwide fund-raising and volunteerism movement, where the government will match donations to social service organisations. The matching funds can be used by the VWOs to expand their capacity and capability, through new programmes and services, training, infrastructure and IT investments. Your donation to the President's Challenge will attract this matching grant if it reaches the beneficiary VWOs before the end of this year. I encourage more donors to donate to President's Challenge and the 63 VWOs we are supporting this year.

President's Challenge 2014 will continue to support the development of social enterprises. This year, we will go beyond the Social Enterprise Award to encourage corporations and community organisations to support social enterprises. With their business know-how, networks and resources, corporations can be a strong supporter for social enterprises.

Community organisations such as schools and non-profit organisations can also play a part by encouraging and showcasing active involvement from youth and other community bodies in social entrepreneurship. I look forward to the support of Singaporeans in nurturing and helping our social enterprises grow.

Carnival@Changi a Good Showcase

Giving goes beyond monetary, although that is still much needed. I would like to encourage more corporate organisations to rally your employees and consider how you may institute some form of community service into your corporate DNA. Instilling this culture of giving will generate positive outcomes, not only for your staff but for future generations of employees.

This applies to corporates both big and small. In fact, one of the first organisations to pledge support and contribute to the fundraising effort of PC2014 is a local SME - Mini Environment Service. The company not only contributed to our fundraising, but also sits on the Steering Committee to help steer our PC efforts.

I am very happy that this year's launch of the President's Challenge exemplifies the very spirit of corporate giving. It has gone one step further to encourage collaborations between corporate and community organisations in a very creative and unique way. Led by IBM Singapore, 10 corporations in the Changi Business Park have come together to pledge their support and participate in this charity carnival together with VWOs. They will raise awareness of social needs, promote volunteerism and philanthropy, and strengthen community engagement.

IBM is also organising a corporate - VWO networking session right after this launch event. I hope that the carnival and networking session will result in more long-term partnerships between corporates, social enterprises and VWOs to serve community needs together. I also hope that we can create a culture where employees, partners and clients know that while there are business outcomes to be met, there is also potential to work together to create social impact and serve those who need help.

I would like to thank all the organisations involved in today's launch for your donations, sponsorship and for giving time and resources to this Carnival@Changi. You can tell by the many logos on the backdrop that this is a huge collaborative effort. I am very heartened by how you have all come together to make this event happen. I applaud the kampong spirit which has brought all of you in the Changi Business Park vicinity together for this very noble cause. I would also like to acknowledge the team at IBM Singapore for being the driving force behind this charity carnival.

My appreciation goes out also to the Tote Board and Singapore Pools, who have once again stepped forward to cover our administrative cost. With their contribution, every cent raised will go to our beneficiaries. I would also like to recognise the many other individuals and organisations that help steer our fundraising, volunteerism and social enterprise efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as Singapore approaches our 50th year of independence, it is a good time to reflect on what we have achieved, and also how we want Singapore to move forward. I believe that becoming a more caring society is among the aspirations of Singaporeans. I hope that the President's Challenge can play a part in contributing towards achieving this aspiration. It gives me great pleasure now to launch President's Challenge 2014.