GIC: It's a leadership programme for the poor

GIC clarified that the GIC Sparks & Smiles Award (GIC Sparks) is not "paid volunteering" in a letter to The Straits Times forum page on Tuesday.

Rather, it is a leadership programme where students from low-income households are trained to be leaders.

The programme is open to those in tertiary institutions.

As part of GIC Sparks, students serve 25 hours of community service and receive training and mentorship from Beyond Social Services, which will also connect each of them to a disadvantaged child, youth or family, said a GIC spokesman.


Separately, the cash grant, worth between $3,000 and $5,000, is for financial support.

The GIC spokesman also stressed that the money is not a reward for the community service done during the programme.

To be part of GIC Sparks, students have to show the desire to serve the community and demonstrate a need for financial support.

They must come from households with a monthly per capita income below $2,000.

GIC has set aside $2 million for the scheme and hopes to attract 500 students over four years.

Said the spokesman: "The programme is not about paying students to serve the community.

"Rather it is a leadership programme which inspires and enables our award recipients to play a positive role in the community."