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Philanthropy is a discipline: The blueprint of Stanley Yen's vision has four stages, and behind each

This is an English translation of the Chinese article featured in United Daily News. English translation by Angela Chin.

Stanley Yen, Chair of The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF), has always believed that philanthropy should not merely focus on emergency relief. He envisions it in four stages, and in each stage, many angels “behind-the-scenes" are needed. Having been engaged in philanthropy since his time at the Landis Hospitality Group, he now plans to write a book titled, "The Portrait of Angels."

Clare Chen, an angel and driving force for a cappella music

Clare Chen, founder of International C & J Ltd., who passed away in 2022, is one of Chair Yen’s angels. Known as a shoe industry powerhouse, Chen is also an important promoter of a cappella music in Taiwan. She founded the a cappella platform “Vocal Asia" based in Taiwan with a focus across Asia. Chair Yen said that without angels like Chen, he would not be able to fulfill many of his philanthropic dreams.

Four stages of philanthropy

When people mention philanthropy, they think of donations, poverty alleviation, emergency relief, and rescue. In Chair Yen's view, this is merely the first stage of philanthropy, the stage of "giving". The purpose of this stage is to enable the recipients to survive.

The second stage of philanthropy is "placement", which provides settlement, education, and job opportunities for the beneficiaries.

Chair Yen believes that the third stage of philanthropy is “empowerment” which involves cultivating individuals among the beneficiaries who can change the community and support them to exert their power. This requires a vertical approach, focusing on long-term education, in order to develop a few individuals who have a sense of mission and strive upwards.

The fourth stage, “propagation,” is for the government to take over, and to implement and replicate these models, allowing these philanthropic models to propagate widely.

The late Master Hsing Yun had entrusted Junyi School to Chair Yen in 2011, which embodies the model for his philanthropic blueprint. The picture shows Junyi School students engaging in kayak building during their spare time. Photo credit: United Daily News.

Venerable Master Hsing Yun unconditionally handed Junyi School of Innovation over to Chair Yen

In 2011, when the late Master Hsing Yun entrusted Junyi School of Innovation to Chair Yen, the school already had a mission to cultivate talents in the remote, a mission shared by Chair Yen and that fit with his philanthropic blueprint.

When Master Hsing Yun founded the school in 2008, it was originally a primary and middle school. After Chair Yen established ACF in Taitung in 2009, he inquired about the Junyi School, and Master Hsing Yun expressed his willingness to hand it over unconditionally. Since then, Junyi School grew into a high school and added three new buildings.

The school has three creative academic fields, "International Hospitality and Tourism," "Green Architecture," and "Contemporary Art". They also have a "Junyi Innovative Study Abroad Program" (JISAP) which encourages high school students to study at American community colleges and United World Colleges (UWC). Many of these students are from remote areas and indigenous communities. Chair Yen said they will support the study abroad program, in hopes to resolve common family issues such as intergenerational upbringing.

Some of these students come from single parent families where the mother passed away and father struggles with alcoholism. "If we don't help them change, who will we help?" said Chair Yen; however, the challenge lies in finding funding. Although fundraising has been difficult, at times they are fortunate to receive support from angels.

Chair Yen (third from the right), and Chen, International C & J Ltd. and Chair of the Kehua Culture and Education Foundation (middle), are good friends. The picture shows them bringing music to remote areas together in 2017. Photo credit: Kehua Culture and Education Foundation.

The angels of ACF

When JISAP was first developed, a former colleague of Chair Yen volunteered to cover the tuition of one of the students to pursue study for two years at a community college. Friends of Chair Yen in the Silicon Valley area formed The Alliance Cultural Foundation International (ACFI) to assist with fundraising.

Chen also provided support during Junyi School's transformation. Chair Yen said that Chen has always been a good friend. When she visited Junyi School in Taitung, she saw developers building houses near the school and immediately reserved two units. When asked why she bought them, she said, "Your school will need them sooner or later." One unit was designated for promoting acappella in Taitung, and the other was for ACF.

"These two buildings turned out to be a great help!" Chair Yen said. These two properties were both townhouses, each with multiple floors featuring five suites and a living room. As predicted by Chen, both units are consistently fully occupied due to frequent visitors to Junyi School. Before her passing, Chen transferred one of the properties to ACF.

"In the over ten years since I established ACF, many stories like these have moved me," Chair Yen said. He acknowledged that the success of ACF and Junyi School are not solely his achievement. While he recognizes his vision, experience, and sense of mission, it would not have been possible without these people. He wants to write a book about them and has tentatively titled it, "Portrait of the Angels".

After this model succeeds, Chair Yen hopes the government will recognize the model and adopt it, essentially fulfilling the fourth stage ofphilanthropy. He wants to prove to the government that this approach is the only way to transform and change the future. Chair Yen stated that compared to existing public schools in the Hualien-Taitung area, which often face deep-rooted issues and are difficult to reform, successful examples must be demonstrated to convince the government. He wants the government, with its vast resources, to allocate some of them to support the disadvantaged rather than distribute resources for the sake of elections, creating an illusion of fairness.

On Chair Yen’s mobile phone, he cherishes a video taken by Junyi School graduates showing their gratitude. Photo credit: United Daily News.

Unfulfilled dream to rebuild the Xincheng Catholic Church and revive Bethlehem Mission Society Chair Yen also hopes to fulfill Chen’s final wish. The Xincheng Catholic Church in Hualien, which combines elements of Japanese torii gates and Western Catholic features, was once a clinic and holds significant cultural heritage value. Chen, who was Catholic, together with a Swiss priest, known by his Chinese name of Tai Hung-chi agreed to transform the former wards into accommodations to house Catholic pilgrims visiting the many churches in the Hualien-Taitung region. Unfortunately, Chen passed away before her dream could be realized. The Bethlehem Mission Society, also from Switzerland, faces a similar crisis, and the future of their site in Taitung remains uncertain. Chair Yen believes that it is not only a historic relic but also a living civic teaching and educational site. He believes that teachers from all over Taiwan should bring their students to see the many exemplary practices that were once carried out there; however, the government seems unsure how to transform this environment into a learning environment. If Chen was still alive, she would step forward to assist. - End of United Daily News article -

The Xincheng Catholic Church in Hualien was once a clinic and has significant cultural and heritage value. Chair Yen also hopes to fulfill Chen's last wish by transforming the church to house pilgrims visiting the Hualien and Taitung areas. Photo credit: United Daily News.


Clare Chen, who founded the Kehua Culture and Education Foundation in 2017, dedicated herself to two a cappella projects, "Vocal Asia" and "Music Project." The former is an a cappella cross-cultural platform that Chen was cultivating for many years, and since 2011, it has hosted the "Vocal Asia Festival," an international a cappella arts festival held annually in different cities in Asia. The latter organizes concerts in rural areas, a cappella and jazz teacher training camps, and workshops on aesthetic education. ACF also assists the “Music Project” in organizing camps and training instructors in Taitung, allowing each organization to contribute their expertise and effectively utilize resources.

We are forever grateful for the friendship and support of Clare Chen.


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