2015 - 2016
Annual Report
About the Founder
Mr. Robert Yet-Sen Chen
1929 - 2003

Mr. Robert Yet-Sen Chen was born at the beginning of China's new Republic, survived the civil wars and the Sino-Japanese War, lived on four continents, and established a thriving international business enterprise. Through it all he never forgot his roots, his boyhood years in rural China. He dedicated much time, energy and financial contributions in the later part of his life to helping the less fortunate in his home village in Qidong, Jiangsu Province, China.

Mr. Chen was born in 1929. At the age of 14, he left his hometown to study in Shanghai. In 1948, he left China for Hong Kong and eventually went on to attend university in England. In 1957, Mr. Chen returned to work in the family business in Hong Kong. He established the company's presence in West Africa by setting up factories in Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Like many of his generation, Mr. Chen experienced personal loss, war and hunger in his youth which was to prepare him for the rigors and challenges of doing business in uncharted territories. His positive outlook on life and his uncanny ability to see to the core of issues, coupled with his unfailing diligence, contributed to the ultimate success of his personal and professional endeavors. His diligence and sound financial investment strategies paid dividends for the family business.

The elder, Mr. Chen Zao Men, taught his son about the importance of philanthropy - of giving - from an early age. The Chen Zao Men College in Hong Kong was the first charitable project supported by the Chen Family in 1972, and the genesis of a tradition of community service. Mr. Robert Chen built on this legacy of good works by building and supporting six schools, a community hospital, and undertaking much-needed public works in the family's hometown of Qidong. His lifetime of philanthropic work culminated with the creation of the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation in October 2003, prior to his unexpected and premature passing on November 29, 2003.

Mr. Robert Chen was a successful businessman, a caring family man, a generous benefactor and a respected citizen. Compassionate and generous, he cared deeply about educating the younger generations in whom he saw unfulfilled potential to excel. His spirit lives on in the Foundation that bears his name.

About Us
Established in 2003, The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation is a hybrid charitable institution with a strategic focus on improving early childhood literacy, through the development of libraries and reading programs. The Foundation also supports experiential out-of-classroom programs which aim to improve personal development of children.
The Foundation is a grant-making institution that supports organizations for innovative, cost effective and high impact programs in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Ghana.
Mission Statement
Supporting relevant local organizations and people to achieve capacity building
Introducing best practices or new ideas
Scaling up successful projects
Encouraging the dissemination of innovative ideas
Assisting with people resources in libraries
Promoting quality literature
Supporting life skills training
To nurture the potential of the next generation by building, supporting & sustaining innovative approaches that enhance learning & personal development.
Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee, consisting of 7 members, meets twice in a year, normally in May and November, to approve grant applications and to review the Foundation policies.
Mr. James Chen
Mrs. Cynthia D'Anjou Brown
Mrs. Daisy Chen
Mrs. Justina Leung
Mr. Alan Wang
Mr. Guangshen Gao
Ex-officio Members
Chief Executive
Ms. Jennifer Ho
China Special
Programs Manager
Ms. Cindy Qin
China Grants
Ms. Shelly Lu
Hefei Programs
Mr. Charlie Xue
Ms. Elaine Chin
Secretary (Part Time)
Mrs. Blesila Tse
Message from the Co-Chairs
Welcome to the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation’s 13th annual report.

2016 marks a special anniversary for us - it is the 10th year since the Foundation first started working in Hefei! Back in 2007, the first project we funded was “Good Books for All” where we provided quality books for several primary schools interested in reading. Fast forward 10 years, and these schools have made reading a core function of their curriculum, enhanced their libraries into a student favorite location in the school, and are vital members of the Stone Soup Happy Reading Alliance (SSHRA).

A lot of these schools are now considered exemplars for reading programs and receive numerous requests from peers who wish to visit the schools. As a Foundation, we are also keen to showcase SSHRA as a resource center on how to build a school reading culture and develop school libraries. As such, we organized a three-day Open Day event in Hefei, where 12 SSHRA schools opened their doors to visitors from around the country so participants could observe various reading activities or classes. It was followed by a conference where speakers shared on how to embed reading culture in schools. With the positive feedback received, we have agreed with the schools to hold similar events every two to three years.

Most members of the Board attended the Open Day. For some of us, it has been a number of years since we last visited Hefei, and the changes are substantial. The city is bustling, and the schools have expanded significantly, many of them have additional campus’ in different districts to accommodate the growing education demand. But the most obvious transformation is the amount of pride and confidence the principals and teachers had when they spoke about their reading programs or the library. What used to be uncertainty was replaced by a can-do attitude, and an eagerness to pursue new ideas for their libraries. We left with a warm feeling in our hearts, knowing that even if the Foundation could no longer work in Hefei, reading is so well rooted in the schools that the reading culture will remain there. Indeed, this is what the Foundations envisions for all the programs we support.

For reading to be so well rooted in the schools was in no small part thanks to the unwavering commitment to reading and library development by the Baohe District Education Bureau Director, Madam Chen Xuemei, and all the partner schools in the SSHRA. The backing of the Education Bureau has paved the way for the schools to train their teachers and grow their libraries. They also initiated the second round of the Teacher Librarian Training Program, which they are co-funding along with the Foundation. We do feel most fortunate to be able to work with such dedicated, forward thinking and trustworthy partners!

With the foreign donor regulation still in its earlier stages of implementation in China, the Foundation will continue to put our China grant program on hold for the time being. We will instead put effort into sharing some of the learnings that we have gained in our decade of operation. In addition to the Open Day and case studies, the Foundation published “A Pictorial Guide: Creating an Attractive Reading Environment”, which provides practical recommendations on ways to build a reading culture based on our experiences. The pictures used in the manual were all taken from the SSHRA schools, and the concepts are meant to be easy to implement.

Of course, not to be forgotten is that the Foundation also fund grants in Hong Kong and Ghana! Especially worth mentioning is the work that Playright is doing on the experiential learning front. As a follow up project to the successful play space competition for Hong Kong Tuen Mun Park, Playright is advancing children’s participation in inclusive play space design with the Junior Playground Commissioner incubation program. How exciting it will be for these children to have an opportunity to help design a section of their local playground.

Last but not least, the Foundation is humbled to receive the “2016 Family Philanthropy Legacy Award” at the inaugural Legacy awards. We are contented to be recognized for our contributions, and at the same time, is reminded of how much more we wish to achieve. A huge thank you to our board members, consultants and staff, who make it possible for the Foundation to keep pushing new boundaries.

Co-Chairs, The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation
James Chen and Cynthia D'Anjou Brown
2016 Legacy Award

The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation was awarded the “2016 Family Philanthropy Legacy Award” at the inaugural Legacy Award* on October 14, 2016 at a ceremony held at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The Foundation was presented the Award from the Honorable Mr Eddie Ng Hak-Kim, Secretary for Education of Hong Kong, followed by an inspiring acceptance speech by Ms. Su Lee Chen. She shared Mr Robert Chen Yet-Sen’s philanthropic beginnings in Qidong that has now created a lasting legacy which has shaped the Foundation today.

Over years of philanthropic strategic giving, Mr. Robert Chen committed both funding and most importantly, his personal time and effort in each project that he supported. The legacy he left behind has influenced the Foundation to focus on depth over breadth and the desire to make a long-term commitment rather than single transaction donations.

Today, the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation has over 13 years of domain expertise in early childhood literacy. Patience and focus have also positioned the Foundation to become the “go-to” resource in reading and library development in Mainland China.

The Foundation humbly believes there is more to be done but will continue to nurture the potential of the next generation by building, supporting and sustaining innovative approaches that enhance learning and personal development.

*Legacy Academy was founded in 2012 to engage a range of services on family succession and continuity planning via research, education, consultancy and publications. It also provides professional advice and guidance to Chinese family enterprises to ensure that their family legacies are successfully sustained and advanced from one generation to the next.