Jeffrey Cheah Foundation to launch endowment fund

Malaysia’s largest education-focused social enterprise Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, has announced its plan to launch an endowment fund. The endowment fund targets to exceed RM1 billion within the next 10 years.

The commitment was announced in conjunction with Jeffrey Cheah Foundation’s 10th anniversary. The endowment will be managed by a committee including members of the Board of Trustees.

The announcement was made by Jeffrey Cheah Foundation founder and trustee Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah today at Sunway University, in the presence of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees including YAM Tunku Zain Abidin Ibni Tuanku Muhriz, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Razman Hashim, Tan Sri Zarinah Anwar, Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, Tan Sri Dato’ Professor Dr Lin See Yan, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Ranjit Ajit Singh and Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah also announced that Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, who was present at the event, has accepted the invitation to join the board of trustees. Tan Sri Jemilah, the founder of MERCY Malaysia, currently serves as the special advisor on public health to the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

To date, Jeffrey Cheah Foundation is worth more than RM1.2 billion backed by RM800 million in net tangible assets.

Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah said that the establishment of the endowment fund would help ensure the sustainability of the foundation. “We are engaging with the Government on making the necessary amendments to the Malaysian law to enable us to launch this endowment fund.”

Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah pointed out that under current rules, the foundation is required to disburse at least 50% of its funds received in the following year.

“This is very different from the rules in many other countries such as the United States and even Singapore. In these countries, institutions that are allowed to receive donations can set them aside for investment or to be placed in fixed deposit accounts.

The institutions then use the investment yields or the interests from the banks to fund their activities, leaving the principal amount intact to ensure the institutions’ long-term viability.

It is very similar to an individual who places money in a bank account or invests it and lives off the returns while the principal remains untouched,” said Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.

Once it is launched, the endowment fund will pioneer a new path for the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation to expand its contributions to nation-building, in perpetuity, through its initiatives in education, research and sustainable development.

The endowment fund will enable the foundation, among others, to establish professorial chairs at Sunway University, in perpetuity.

The foundation aims to position Malaysia as a regional hub of excellence in education and research as well as healthcare, while making quality education affordable and accessible to all qualified and deserving Malaysians.

Over the past 10 years, the foundation, which owns and governs all 16 institutions and entities of Sunway Education Group, will have disbursed almost RM540 million by the end of this year, in the form of scholarships and grants.

It has also established collaborative partnerships with some of the world’s highest-ranked universities with Sunway University. These include the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, University of Oxford as well as the University of California, Berkeley and MIT in Boston.

These initiatives also comprise the establishment of the University of Cambridge Clinical Research Centre, the Harvard Global Health Delivery Center and the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development in Sunway City Kuala Lumpur. Also in the pipeline, the foundation plans to establish a medical school at Sunway University in collaboration with the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. 

“All these partnerships are aligned with our view that in order to become the best, we have to work with the best and learn from the best. They are also aimed at bringing world-class expertise to Malaysia and enhancing the nation’s knowledge base,” added Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.

The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation was set up in 2010 to contribute towards nation building by focusing on quality education, research and sustainable development. The latter initiative received a boost when the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network selected Sunway University, located at Sunway City Kuala Lumpur, as one of its three centres globally to implement continent-wide sustainability agenda.

The centre at Sunway City will oversee Asia alongside New York City and Paris, which oversee the Americas; and Europe/Africa respectively.

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