Coming from single parent families, Tom and Mark (not their real names), both 17, had difficult childhoods. However, while staying in Boys’ Town, a home for disadvantaged youths, they were determined to turn over a new leaf and achieve good academic results. Their perseverance paid off – Tom was accepted into Shatec while Mark enrolled in the Visual Communications course in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). But faced with financial constraints, both boys would have had to take up part-time jobs to fund their education.
Having engaged the Boys’ Town youth since 2011 through the Befrienders programme, the Singapore Technologies Endowment Programme (STEP) Singapore Chapter recognised that, like Tom and Mark, there were youths who possessed the right attitude but lacked the financial support to pursue their goals. As such, the Boys’ Town sponsorship initiative was established.
Under this initiative, STEP will sponsor Tom and Mark $6,000 each, alleviating their financial burden so that they can concentrate on their studies.
They will be mentored by STEP Alumnus Ang Min Jia, a graduate from the National University of Singapore. “I came from a similar background as Tom and Mark and went through similar encounters,” shares Min Jia. “But when I was a polytechnic student, I had mentors who helped me a lot. I am very grateful to my mentors and to STEP which offered me an undergraduate scholarship, and I hope that I can also help Tom and Mark get the recognition that they deserve.”
Although they have graduated from Boys’ Town, both youths intend to pay it forward by continuing their engagement with the home. “I will definitely return to Boys’ Town to engage the boys through physical training, and motivate them by sharing my experience,” says Mark.