Over 300 youths raise over $450,000 for 36 Social Service Agencies during COVID-19

20 NOVEMBER 2020 – Four youths collaborated with local celebrity chef, restauranteur, and food writer Ms Violet Oon, who generously gave her time and effort to conduct an online charity cooking show, “Cook.Give.Heart.”. The show also featured the owner and curator of “The Intan Museum”, Mr Alvin Yapp. Together, they explored Peranakan culture and cuisine for a good cause, with Ms Oon teaching the making of two traditional desserts – Sago Pudding Gula Melaka and Kueh Pisang – and Mr Yapp sharing his expertise on Peranakan history and traditions.


The team, known as “Populas Sitas” from St Joseph’s Institution, had to find new and innovative ways to raise funds and awareness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They sold customised merchandise and implemented social media awareness campaigns, raising close to $7,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation Singapore. The Social Service Agency (SSA) serves children with life-threatening illnesses by bringing hope and strength to the lives they touch. The cooking show, which was themed “A Peranakan Delight”, was made available to donors who contributed more than $10.

Through their efforts, they were able to grant the wish of 18-year-old Shadi Hannan, who has Germ Cell Cancer. Coming from a large family and living in a confined space, he wished for a room make-over, as his room was cramped and had not been refurbished in 12 years.

Populas Sitas was one of 79 teams in the YMCA Youth For Causes programme. It is a community initiative started by Citi and the YMCA of Singapore in 2003. Funded by the Citi Foundation, it provides a seed-funding of $1,600 and mentorship to teams of students to conceptualise and execute projects to raise funds and awareness for SSAs of their choice.

Due to COVID-19, participants had to exercise creativity and adaptability in the online space for their events and campaigns this year. Despite new challenges, 316 youths raised over $450,000 for 36 SSAs that tackled social issues including mental wellness, special needs, less privileged youth, and environmental conservation, among others.

They did so through a combination of small-scale physical events held on campus while following social distancing measures, and virtual efforts including video productions for awareness, poetry contests, virtual concerts, and e-sports tournaments.

The team expressed that they were especially heartened that the SJI community, including their principal, Father Adrian Danker, senior school leader, Brother Paul, Vice Principals, staff and students supported them in different ways. This included their participation in the making of numerous publicity videos for the online charity cooking show, some of which garnered close to 1,000 viewer hits.

The team also learnt “the power of a wish is often understated, for we have seen that for these beneficiaries, the benefits are multi-faceted, life-altering and the gesture of granting their wish also sends an unspoken but uplifting message of love and encouragement to them.”.


The achievements of these youths were celebrated at the 18th YMCA Youth For Causes (YFC) Awards Celebration 2020, held on 20 November. It was graced by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Finance. It was attended by the youth participants, over 60 mentors from 36 SSAs, teachers, judges and YFC Alumni.

“Citi Singapore is committed to enabling growth and economic progress for the communities that we serve. Since 2002, Citi Singapore has served as a strong advocate of financial inclusion and youth development, and have committed more than S$22 million to fund initiatives in these areas through Citi Foundation. Youth For Causes is one such programme that complements our national efforts in building social leadership and community consciousness amongst youth in Singapore, and I am glad that we have actively involved around 50 Citi volunteers to contribute to this worthy cause every year,” said Stacey N. Lacy, Managing Director, Asia Pacific Chief Information Officer & Head of Operations and Technology, Citibank N.A.

The YMCA Youth for Causes Programme has a history of 18 years. Globally, it is the longest running community programme supported by the Citi Foundation. In Singapore, the programme has also been recognised as a sustained private-social partnership that brings value to both the social service sector and our education landscape.

“Even with new hardships in trying times, the youths and mentors displayed great determination and commitment to touching lives and lifting spirits of their beneficiaries. It has been truly moving and inspiring to hear of the many stories and adventures these youths embarked upon. We are very appreciative of Citi Singapore for their partnership in making this programme possible, and we look forward to exploring new initiatives to further nurture the youth of Singapore,” said Mr Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore.