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TAKING HEART

Levelling the playing field for youth through all-round development

NTUC Income's OrangeAid Future Development Programme provides support through bursaries, financial literacy and character development training

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Since 2015, 150 individuals have graduated from the programme, with most participants faring better in their studies since being a part of FDP.

Singapore

PROVIDING a level playing field for youth to have opportunities in school and subsequently at the workplace ranks high for home-grown insurer NTUC Income.

In April 2018, the insurer extended its flagship effort, the Income OrangeAid Future Development Programme (FDP) to 2019. Over the period, it will offer 800 bursaries amounting to S$2.04 million in total to support underprivileged youth in Singapore with their school fees and living expenses.

Speaking to The Business Times, Marcus Chew, Income's chief marketing officer, said: "We saw the need to better engage and make a more pronounced impact on the youth in Singapore so we decided to start the FDP, which was aimed at tertiary students in the polytechnics and technical institutes."

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The programme provides support for the youth through bursaries, financial literacy and character development training. Since 2015, 150 individuals have graduated from the programme, with most participants faring better in their studies since being a part of FDP.

Income staff and financial planners also contribute by lending a hand in the running of financial literacy workshops and courses organised under FDP. These workshops are conducted four times a year with each targeting 70-100 participants.

Furthermore, Income launched an alumni programme in April 2018 to complement the existing FDP. The programme comprises facilitator and coaching training for former participants of the FDP who have expressed interest in returning as facilitators. It aims to groom up to 40 FDP beneficiaries as trainees to support FDP workshops as assistant facilitators. Facilitators can earn a stipend for their efforts.

Annur Munirah, an FDP alumni member who signed up for facilitator training, said: "The FDP has inspired me to help those in need. I appreciated peer sharing at FDP workshops as it helped me see how others are in similar circumstances as me and more importantly, how we learn from one another. I hope by sharing my journey and learning, I can offer meaningful support to others."

Understanding that FDP beneficiaries often have to juggle school, work and caring for their families at the same time, Mr Chew said that the coaching component is designed to complement existing career mentorship programmes where coaches work with five mentees over a three-month period in particular areas of interest like advertising and digital transformation.

"It is also structured loosely and customised with each coach to optimise the mentees' learning journey and experience," he said.

The first of these mentorship sessions commenced in May and is being led by Andrea Chong, a local blogger and founder of digital advertising agency, DC Creative. She is working with mentees on building a social media persona, building a brand and creative content development, among others.

Having gone through challenges herself when she was in school, she could identify with the circumstances of the youths whom Income OrangeAid is supporting, she said. "I'm passionate about supporting education for youth-in-need and I'm glad to have this opportunity to be a coach to them."

Income also paired up with others like industry professionals to join the programme as coaches. These include the likes of Janson Choo, a creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty Asia Pacific, and Max Tiong, head of the transformation office at Income.

Mr Chew said that while partners have already come on board, the insurer is still on the lookout for more industry professionals to join the programme as coaches.