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May 2023 Media Release

Launch of FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND Education Award in Singapore for Students with Special Educational Needs by TomoWork

Singapore, 30 May 2023 – TomoWork, a non-profit organisation and Charity in Singapore, has announced the launch of the Talent Uplift Programme (TUP), the Education Award for Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) designed to support those who come from lower income families and are pursuing their academic goals in a public or private institute of higher learning in Singapore.

This is the first of its kind Education Award in Singapore, which encourages students with SEN to pursue their studies, without it being based on their academic performance.

Every year, TomoWork will provide an Education Award of $4,000 to a maximum of 10 students with SEN. Recipients will also gain opportunities to organise TomoWork’s volunteering activities as well as receive mentorship and career guidance. Past recipients are welcome to reapply every year. 

Over the next four years, TomoWork aims to support a maximum of 40 students with SEN through the TUP.

For more TUP information including the criteria, please visit https://tomowork.org/talent-uplift.

Students with SEN may encounter significant financial burdens, as their families are often required to allocate additional funds for medical consultations, medication, therapy, assistive technology, and special learning support. The financial burden associated with these costs disproportionately affects families with low incomes, compelling them to forgo higher education in pursuit of their desired future. TUP may cover tuition fees, living expenses, last-mile coverage from existing public subsidies, and assistive technology and services. The goal is to alleviate the financial burden on these students with SEN and enable them to fully focus on their studies without any financial constraints.

Mr Mike Momota, CEO of TomoWork, said “We are excited to announce the launch of the TUP as part of our mission to achieve equitable employment opportunities for PWDs and students with SEN. We have encountered instances where students with SEN who have progressed to university encounter challenges in maintaining their academic focus, primarily due to the additional financial burdens that are specific to students with SEN. We believe that every student, regardless of their background or abilities, deserves the opportunity to succeed academically. This TUP is a key step towards overcoming ecosystem challenges and empowering students with special educational needs to achieve their full potential.”

An explanatory graph illustrating the functioning of the Talent Uplift Programme (TUP). The programme aims to support undergraduate students with Special Educational Needs from lower-income backgrounds (60th percentile) by providing a $4,000/year grant distributed in two installments per year. TUP acts as a supplementary coverage to existing government subsidies, assisting with expenses such as tuition fees, living expenses, and access to assistive technology and services. In addition to financial support, TUP beneficiaries become part of the TomoWork network, benefiting from mentorship and post-graduation employment opportunities. In return, they are expected to actively participate in and contribute to TomoWork volunteering activities.
An explanatory graph illustrating the functioning of the Talent Uplift Programme (TUP). The programme aims to support undergraduate students with Special Educational Needs from lower-income backgrounds (60th percentile) by providing a $4,000/year grant distributed in two installments per year. TUP acts as a supplementary coverage to existing government subsidies, assisting with expenses such as tuition fees, living expenses, and access to assistive technology and services. In addition to financial support, TUP beneficiaries become part of the TomoWork network, benefiting from mentorship and post-graduation employment opportunities. In return, they are expected to actively participate in and contribute to TomoWork volunteering activities.

The TUP was officially unveiled during TomoWork’s annual event “Tomo Day,” held in conjunction with the showcase performance by Talent Accelerator Programme (TAP) 2023 participants. Tomo Day was graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development & Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration. Participants of the TAP showcased the fruitful outcomes of their learnings and experiences during the event.

The TAP – which is in its third run – was held for the first time at Republic Polytechnic and this year’s key tracks are Digital Marketing, Data Analytics, Sustainability, UI/UX Design, and Financial Market. There are a total of 24 TAP participants in 2023. They presented their corporate projects and newfound knowledge to approximately 100 guests at Tomo Day.

For this year’s TAP, Amazon Web Services, Barclays, Bloomberg, foodpanda, Google, Kinjo Rubber, Lee Foundation, LinkedIn, Micron Technology, MSD, Sembcorp Industries, Singlife, Standard Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Life Insurance Company supported the acceleration of career preparation opportunities. These companies demonstrate a strong commitment to fostering an inclusive work culture and assisting students with SEN to acquire the relevant skills required for their future employment. Several companies have also expressed their intention to provide employment opportunities to selected graduates from the TAP.

Dr Abdullahi Sheriff, Managing Director for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, MSD, said “MSD Singapore is proud to be a corporate partner for the Talent Accelerator Programme 2023 organised by TomoWork. At MSD, we are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are honoured to be able to help students with special educational needs gain more skills and confidence before they enter the workforce. The TAP is a positive step forward in building a more inclusive society in Singapore. MSD Singapore will continue to harness the strengths and abilities of people from all walks of life to deliver on our mission to save and improve lives around the world.”

Mr Ashley Chua, Senior Director (Student Services) at Republic Polytechnic said, “Every student in our midst, including those with special educational needs (SEN), has immense abilities to be developed further. We see the Talent Accelerator Programme as a platform that will allow our Institutes of Higher Learning to leverage the collective abilities of our staff, community partners and employers as we empower our youths and help them achieve their fullest potential. This will in turn allow us to embrace diversity and inclusivity, uplift those in need and pave the path towards a more equitable community.”

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About TomoWork

TomoWork logo

“Tomo” means friends in Japanese, representing a closely knitted global community coming together to empower the differently-abled community in improving their quality of life. Established in 2019, TomoWork is a registered charity in Singapore (Aug 2022).

We envision a world where there is equitable opportunity for the disadvantaged so that they can live with dignity and feels a sense of belonging to society. We believe that being gainfully employed is the best way to improve dignity and quality of life and what sets TomoWork apart is its ability to foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders, forming an inclusive ecosystem that generates meaningful outcomes for PWDs. Within this ecosystem, students with SEN remain connected even after their graduation from our programme through initiatives aimed at fostering mutual support and facilitating the advancement of their careers. For more information, please visit https://tomowork.org.

About Republic Polytechnic

Republic Polytechnic logo. Tagline: Discover, transform, achieve.

The first educational institution in Singapore to leverage the Problem-based Learning approach for all its diploma programmes, Republic Polytechnic (RP) has seven schools and one academic centre offering 37 full-time diplomas in Applied Science, Engineering, Management and Communication, Hospitality, Infocomm, Sports, Health & Leisure, and Technology for the Arts. 

RP is committed to nurturing professionals with strong problem-solving capabilities through an innovative and entrepreneurial learning environment, based on a holistic and industry-relevant curriculum. RP’s Academy for Continuing Education also offers a comprehensive suite of lifelong learning programmes to provide adult learners with skills upgrading opportunities. For more information, visit http://www.rp.edu.sg.

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For the PDF version of the press release, please click here.