The Yap-Ong Family Fund

Concert for a Cause gives the gift of music while supporting community

A large group of people wearing green, blue, red and yellow shirts stand on a stage.
Concert for a Cause 2023. Photos provided by Paul Ong, courtesy of JPG Photography. 

When Paul Ong recalls his move from the Philippines to Canada, he says he had no idea “that the biggest opportunity would come when I arrived in Winnipeg.” 

Ong, a vice-principal in the Winnipeg School Division, began singing as a hobby and a form of self-expression as a teenager, performing on stage and TV in the Philippines. When his family moved to Canada in 2010, Ong thought it was an end of an era, and that he would use his background in business to pursue a career; one year later he was participating in the 2012 season of Canada’s Got Talent. 

This opportunity led Ong to be selected to represent Canada in the 2015 World Championship of Performing Arts, an annual international competition inspired by the Olympics. The competition was in Los Angeles and Ong had to fundraise to support his trip. Upon his return to Winnipeg, he hosted a homecoming concert to thank the community for their support. 

“I thought [the concert] was a one-off,” says Ong about the inception of the Concert for a Cause series, but “[In] 2016, they wanted another one.” Ong donated the proceeds from the concert to support a mobile computer lab for an inner-city school. “As soon as we gave, it’s just, it’s contagious.” Since then, Ong continues to organize Concert for a Cause, contributing increasing amounts to charitable organizations like Cancer Care Manitoba, Siloam Mission, and Hands of Hope. 

Five people stand at the front of a stage holding a large cheque reading "Forty-five thousand and sixty-four dollars" made out to Sistema Winnipeg from Paul Ong's Annual Concert for a Cause 2023 with the WSO.
Concert for a Cause 2023. Photos provided by Paul Ong, courtesy of JPG Photography. 

At the ninth concert, held on April 29, 2023, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) joined the performance for a second year. Through ticket sales, advertisements, and sponsorships the concert raised more than $45,000 for Sistema Winnipeg, a partnership between the WSO, Seven Oaks School Division, and Winnipeg School Division that provides after school music education to children throughout the school year. 

Although Ong loves performing, fundraising is his favourite aspect of the project; “To be able to use the music for that purpose really brings me so much fulfillment.” 

During this year’s concert, Ong also launched the Yap-Ong Family Fund, an arts, culture, and heritage endowment fund at The Winnipeg Foundation. Ong was inspired to create the fund when friend and mentor Larry Vickar suggested Ong could put a portion of the proceeds raised from the concert series into an endowment fund. Vickar and his family are also supporters of the community and have established funds at The Winnipeg Foundation. 

A man in a tuxedo stands at the front of a stage surrounded by a symphony orchestra.
Concert for a Cause 2023. Photos provided by Paul Ong, courtesy of JPG Photography. 

This year concertgoers were invited to contribute to the Yap-Ong Family Fund. Ong hopes to build the fund with contributions from future concerts, creating lasting impact in the community. “It’s great to know that you can leave a legacy and sustain charitable giving this way,” says Ong. 

Ong feels it’s a privilege to have a platform that brings so many people together for a shared goal. He sees how the many pieces everyone contributes creates a successful concert, which mirrors his hope to grow the endowment fund. “This concert is a prime example of what ‘every little bit counts’ looks like.” 

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