ST pocket money fund giving $1m in e-grants

ST School Pocket Money Fund beneficiaries Loh Khim San and Anis Farhana Muhammad Effendi (first and third from left) feeding a beaver on an outing to River Safari last November, accompanied by Straits Times journalists. ST FILE PHOTO Donors to The St
ST School Pocket Money Fund beneficiaries Loh Khim San and Anis Farhana Muhammad Effendi (first and third from left) feeding a beaver on an outing to River Safari last November, accompanied by Straits Times journalists. ST FILE PHOTO
Donors to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund this year include (from left) retired businessman Loh Kiong Poot, Wilmar International chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong and veteran banker Edmund Koh.
Donors to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund this year include (from left) retired businessman Loh Kiong Poot, Wilmar International chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong and veteran banker Edmund Koh.

It will partner Challenger to help students buy IT products they need for home learning

To mark the 20th anniversary of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) and the newspaper's 175th anniversary this year, $1 million worth of e-grants will be given to 2,000 students from families in need.

Each student will receive an e-grant of $500 to purchase a range of products from information technology retailer Challenger, such as laptops, printers and audio devices.

A special microsite for STSPMF will be set up under Hachi.tech - Challenger's online shopping arm - where the students will receive a free ValueClub student membership with the $500 e-grant pre-credited into their membership accounts.

The 2,000 students will be selected from schools and social service agencies disbursing the pocket money funds next month.

School pocket money will still be given out monthly to students from lower-income families, on top of the e-grant.

The STSPMF has stepped up its fund-raising efforts to help its beneficiaries cope with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, there are two tranches of top-ups totalling $1 million on top of the usual pocket money funds.

The first tranche of additional $50 top-ups was given out to all beneficiaries in May, and a second round will be given out next month.

In May, the fund also pledged up to $2 million towards meal subsidies for students from low-income families during the school holidays, with the Ministry of Education matching, dollar for dollar, the amount distributed.

Currently, underprivileged students are given the opportunity to own a brand-new computer at an affordable price, under the Infocomm Media Development Authority's NEU PC Plus programme.

Retired businessman Loh Kiong Poot donated $500,000 to the STSPMF on Wednesday, making a donation of this size for the third consecutive year.

Palm oil giant Musim Mas said on Monday that it will be donating $1 million to the STSPMF under its Musim Mas Project Onward, which is donating a total of $5 million to five local organisations.

Earlier in May, agribusiness group Wilmar International and its chairman and chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong said they would donate a total of $7 million over three years.

Stock brokerage firm UOB Kay Hian donated $600,000, while veteran banker Edmund Koh and his wife Wong Poh Choo donated $500,000 to the fund.

STSPMF chairman Warren Fernandez, who is also editor of The Straits Times and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/ Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "The pandemic has hit many families hard and more are seeking help, including from the ST School Pocket Money Fund.

 
 
 
 

"We are trying our best to do what we can and have stepped up efforts to raise funds to do so. We are also trying to help in other ways, such as by providing families in need with some resources, so that their children are able to keep up with home-based learning... (preventing them) from falling behind because of the crisis.

"We are very grateful to the generous individuals and companies who have responded to our appeals and given readily.

"Even so, we will have to dip into our reserves to be able to provide more than $10 million which will be needed this year.

"But given these very difficult times, we think it is necessary to do so, to do what we can to help."

Since the STSPMF was set up in 2000, it has disbursed more than $70 million, helping over 170,000 children so far.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2020, with the headline 'ST pocket money fund giving $1m in e-grants'. Print Edition | Subscribe