Opportunities, Not Challenges: The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Vision for Youth Services Partnerships

//vol.15-3 Interview

Opportunities, Not Challenges:

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Vision for Youth Services Partnerships


Resources are limited, but how we maximise the impact created by the philanthropic sector and society’s resources is very important.


In today’s complex world, organisations are recognising the importance of partnerships to maximise their impact and create meaningful change. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, a long-time supporter of local youth services, is seizing opportunities to make a difference by collaborating with various stakeholders. It accomplishes this through donations to its community partners made via The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. 

In an interview with Youth Hong Kong, Winnie Ying, Head of Charities (Youth Development and Poverty Alleviation) at the Club, discusses the critical role of partnerships in youth services, and shares her insights on how the impact of social initiatives can be maximised. 


Nurturing our city’s youngsters is a cornerstone of the Club’s Charities strategy, which prioritises five areas of community need. Youth development and poverty alleviation is one of these priorities, alongside positive ageing and elderly care, healthy community, talent and sector development, as well as sports and culture. Its youth development efforts focus on empowering young people and increasing their social mobility, through meaningful engagement, levelling up and intergenerational poverty alleviation. 

Young people play an integral role in the society’s sustained development, yet the predicaments they face cannot be resolved by simply troubleshooting solutions. The rapidly changing world is a source of anxiety and uncertainty for adults and youths alike, given disruptive developments such as the automation of jobs. Forward-looking perspectives are therefore needed to maximise new opportunities. Young people are quick learners, creatively driven and passionate about social good. The success of a society lies in effectively harnessing their strengths to thrive in the digital era. 

A developmental approach should be taken, built on the belief that the youth have great potential, ability and power to drive social development. Winnie recalls a recent inspiring pitching event at which young people took the lead in partnering with social workers on solutions for transforming the Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres (ICYSCs) into youth-centric spaces. Youths from 36 ICYSCs showcased remarkable creativity and proposed new ideas, including a platform to foster positive energy in the community, a solution incubation hub for the community, and a round-the-clock ICYSC operating according to youngsters’ schedules. 

The Club and The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) have collaborated on a number of projects to provide young people with opportunities to learn and develop, express themselves and contribute to society. These include Youth S.P.O.T.s, Media 21, YouthCreate, 21C, as well as outdoor training camps in Sai Kung and Stanley. 

Despite these efforts, however, concerns loom over Hong Kong’s ageing society, which is poised to have a significant impact on youth services. Winnie, anticipating this scenario, sees possibilities to forge “1+1>2” partnerships between young people and the elderly. 


“I see opportunities more than challenges as we face an ageing population, and young people have to play a bigger role in driving and contributing to the prosperity of the society,” says Winnie. 


She adds that young people are the driving force behind the city’s transformation into a digital society thanks to their agility and adaptability. However, we must be mindful not to marginalise disadvantaged groups such as the elderly and disabled as technology advances. To address this gap and foster a more caring community, the Trust has developed the concept of youth digital squads. These squads will leverage the strengths of young people and develop innovative solutions to help marginalised groups adapt themselves and benefit from an increasingly digital city. 

“Through this interaction, I believe everyone will witness the power of youth. There has been a lack of sufficient channels for both sides to appreciate each other. We must admit that youngsters have the power to make a difference in society.” 

Winnie believes in young people, who are energetic and innovative, yet also respect the older generation for their wisdom and invaluable experience. She favours the concept of partnership rather than mentorship, because it offers reciprocal advantages to both youngsters and the elderly. 

“I think this is a very good opportunity for us to think about how they can energise each other,” Winnie says. “Resources are limited, but how we maximise the impact created by the philanthropic sector and society’s resources is very important.”

Hong Kong has set an example to the world in terms of collaboration between the government, non-profit sector and corporates, which Winnie describes as “pretty encouraging”.  

Through collaborations with local and overseas universities, and other stakeholder support, the Club’s Charities Trust created and funded the CoolThink@JC programme and supported the CUHK Jockey Club AI for the Future Project have had their content adopted by the Education Bureau in two curriculum modules on Innovation and Technology Education. The projects aim to build digital literacy and bridge developmental gaps of students through universal free education. Looking ahead, the government may also consider mainstreaming the Trust’s 「Open Up: Jockey Club Online Youth Emotional Support」 initiative, the first 24/7 online text platform for distressed youth, within the next 18 months. 


“We pilot well-designed, evidence-based social experiments with the support of partners, providing reference for government policies and demonstrating the models’ effectiveness in addressing specific social issues,” Winnie explains. “We identify pain points and develop solutions to tackle each one.”


With competing agendas for social services in Hong Kong, the Club’s Charities Trust has adapted and become more strategic in its approach by identifying key issues to focus on. 

“We have many programmes in the society. Instead of giving money to hundreds of programmes, the Club’s charities strategy is to identify the real social issues and their root causes. Then we invest seriously in tackling these particular issues through targeted donations,” Winnie adds. 

Speaking from the HKFYG Jockey Club Media 21, Hong Kong’s first NGO-led, community-based media hub designed to connect young people and nurture talents in multimedia production, Winnie stresses the importance of devising multifaceted pathways for youngsters with diverse needs.  

Winnie believes that society should effectively support young people at critical developmental junctures, long before they face stressful, life-defining moments such as Hong Kong’s Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (“HKDSE”), an important gateway to higher education and future career roadmap. Labelling youngsters who do not make the grade in the HKDSE as 「failures」 is detrimental, leading to a perception that alternative educational paths to university studies are lesser options. Winnie advocates for cross-sector collaboration to craft authentic trajectories for youth during three critical transition periods in life: childhood to youth, before and after the public exam, and entering the job market after graduation. 

Supporting young people, especially those from deprived backgrounds, through these shifts is crucial to helping them move onwards and upwards, and avoid being limited by circumstances. To help them successfully make transitions between life milestones needs the society’s collective support. 

The Club and its Trust believe in the power of teamwork to create a caring and inclusive community, and envision a future with abundant opportunities for the younger generation. With a commitment to impactful projects and a developmental approach, it remains positive and committed to acting continuously for the betterment of our society. 

In mid-September, the Club’s Charities Trust convened the third Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum, and announced $5 billion funding for the establishment of the Institute of Philanthropy. With the theme 「Philanthropy for Fairer Societies」, the forum brought together close to 70 speakers and 1,600 delegates from around the world, students from 100 secondary schools and representatives from 600 organisations, including many youth-focused groups. The forum examined global case studies to explore ways of achieving fairer outcomes through philanthropy’s transformative power. Key themes included education, health justice, ageing societies, welfare models, and technology’s role in philanthropy. Expert discussions also delved into the evolving nature of 21st-century philanthropy in Asia and beyond.