Cap raised for youth project funding

Lim Kia Teng (in green) and Teoh Jing Yang (in blue), both 17 and students of NUS High, presenting their project idea to other applicants recently.
Lim Kia Teng (in green) and Teoh Jing Yang (in blue), both 17 and students of NUS High, presenting their project idea to other applicants recently.ST PHOTO: ANG YIYING

National Youth Council raises bar from $3,000 to $5,000 and sets new format of application

Young people wanting to tap on the National Youth Council (NYC)'s Young ChangeMakers grant can now be awarded more money, and will also go through a new format of application.

The national-level grant for those aged 15 to 35 gives informal groups and individuals funds to carry out community projects. It accepts applications throughout the year and is one of the grants easily accessible by the young.

Since it was set up in 2005, the Young ChangeMakers grant has capped its per project funding at $3,000 or 80 per cent of a project's cost, whichever is lower. The grant currently draws from the $100 million National Youth Fund, which supports youth-led social initiatives.

Now, the bar has been raised to $5,000 for "projects that demonstrate exceeding merits in terms of project scale and impact", said the NYC, in response to The Straits Times. New applications that fit this criteria will be considered for the higher cap. Cumulatively over the years, the fund has given out $3.6 million to more than 1,600 projects. Of the roughly 200 applications it receives a year, about 70 per cent are funded.

Since April this year, applicants were also put through a new format. Previously, they presented their proposals in closed-door sessions to a panel of Young ChangeMakers volunteers, who queried their ideas and decided if they should get funding.

Now, applicants present their ideas to other applicants, who ask questions or give input on how they can improve their proposal.

  • $5,000

    New cap per project in new criteria


    Number of projects approved under new format

These sessions are facilitated by Young ChangeMakers volunteers, who decide on the awarding of funds.

As of Saturday, 39 of 46 applications assessed under the new format were approved. The others received feedback on how they could refine their ideas to meet the criteria.

At such an event earlier this month, 17 project groups, made up of students or young working adults, were divided into smaller groups. These small groups went into a breakout room each and individual groups took turns to introduce their projects, quiz one another about their plans and suggest improvements.

Such sharing is what the new format aims to encourage, said Mr Muhammad Nabil Noor Mohamed, 27, one of three key volunteers who oversees grant approvals.

When assessing projects in the past, he often saw groups with similar objectives or complementary ideas who could have worked together, he said. However, each did not have any idea what other groups were doing.

The breakout sessions give them a chance to find out more about other groups, he said.

In fact, after attending a breakout session this month, Lim Kia Teng, a student from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, created a WhatsApp group for the 12 participants, including herself - who were from four different project groups - to keep in touch.

Said the 17-year-old, whose group will receive funding for organising a camp to promote volunteerism among students from different schools: "It's a networking platform. We can support one another in our projects."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Cap raised for youth project funding'. Print Edition | Subscribe