Empowering Vulnerable Learners and Communities through Education

SM Foundation officially turns over its 107th school building to the San Fernando South Central Integrated School in San Fernando, La Union.

Over its four-decade journey, SM Foundation, Inc. (SMFI), the corporate social responsibility arm of the SM Group, has been pivotal in advancing social good and fostering positive change in the communities it serves. Alongside healthcare, sustainable agriculture and disaster relief, education stands out as a cornerstone where SMFI continues to spearhead impactful initiatives.

SMFI’s education programs place particular focus on serving learners from vulnerable communities. Its partnership with government, particularly in the Department of Education’s Adopt-A-School Program, aims to address crucial infrastructure needs and classroom deficits.

According to DepEd data for the 2023-2024 school year, over 20 million students nationwide were enrolled, with Region 4-A leading at over three million enrollments. Despite these numbers, the country faced significant challenges with a reported deficit of approximately 150,000 classrooms.

“To date, in collaboration with the DepEd, SMFI has built and turned over 108 school buildings and 366 classrooms, benefiting 18,300 students,” highlighted Ms. Deborah Pe-Sy, Executive Director of SM Foundation. These efforts not only enhance educational facilities but also promote hygiene among schoolchildren through handwashing stations.

 

Shaping futures through scholarships

SM Foundation’s scholarship program has, over the years, empowered thousands of scholars to break the cycle of poverty and pursue their dreams through education.

“SMFI’s scholarship program serves as a catalyst for change, not only supporting scholar-beneficiaries but also breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Over the years, SMFI’s efforts have empowered 4,214 scholars who have successfully graduated with the assistance of our college scholarship program,” Director Pe-Sy said.

Adapting to the changing times, SMFI has streamlined its college scholarship application process, to ensure nationwide accessibility and efficiency. Applications are communicated through both traditional and digital media, while scholarship applications, exams, and interviews are now conducted online for faster processing. A dedicated digital platform enables seamless submission of grades and necessary documents, ensuring smooth processing of tuition and allowances.

“SM Foundation’s commitment extends beyond financial support. We execute engagement programs for our scholars to provide holistic mentorship, boosting their intellectual, emotional, and social skills,” Director Pe-Sy added. Upon graduation, SMFI also organizes exclusive job fairs in collaboration with SM Group’s HR departments, opening diverse career opportunities.

 

Paying it forward: Inspiring Success Stories

Charlene Joy Quintos finished Accountancy at the University of Perpetual Help System JONELTA-Isabela campus through an SM scholarship. Upon graduation, she took the CPA Licensure exam, passed, and worked at a private company. Having been a student leader in college, and inspired by SM Foundation’s commitment to service, she took up a Bachelor of Laws and successfully passed the Bar in 2023. She is now a practicing lawyer.

“I aspire to follow in the footsteps of Henry Sy Sr, whose philanthropic endeavors exemplify the profound impact of extending a helping hand to the vulnerable. I believe that when individuals support each other, those who receive assistance can, in turn, extend opportunities to others once they achieve success. This virtuous cycle has the power to uplift entire communities and perpetuate a legacy of social good,” Atty. Quintos said

Rosalie Macaspac is an SM scholarship program alumnus and has been a Special Education (SPED) teacher for 21 years. She has also dedicated herself to advocating for the welfare of deaf learners,

Raised by a single mother who became bedridden, Macaspac faced financial struggles as a student. She pursued her education through her family’s effort selling streamed rice cakes as their main source of income.

With a scholarship from SMFI, she finished college and worked at the SM Head Office as a stepping stone to fulfill her dream of teaching at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay. Hers is a story of resilience and determination.

“SM Foundation has inspired me to give back to a special community and commit myself to being an effective SPED teacher,” Macaspac said.

SM’s unwavering dedication to social responsibility exemplifies how corporate initiatives can drive meaningful change. By empowering individuals and communities through education, SM, through SM Foundation continues to shape a brighter future for all. As Atty. Quintos and Ms. Macaspac exemplify, investing in education not only transforms lives but also fosters a legacy of social good and empowerment.

 

 

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