While the last six months have been full of challenges, it has also been marked by opportunity and new chapters. We are thrilled to share that after an extended period of exploration and due diligence, EYC has entered into an agreement with Sustainable Schools International (SSI), a U.S.-based 501(c)(3), to transition their Leadership Academy to EYC.
SSI has been working for almost 19 years to build local human capacity for economic development in rural Cambodia through targeted educational and livelihood opportunities. As SSI looked for ways to make its programs truly sustainable, it explored options to transition the core programs to potential partners.
The Leadership Academy, a residential program for 17 high school and university students from the countryside, provides room and board for the students while they continue their education in high schools, vocational training centers, and universities in Phnom Penh. In addition, students receive school fees and tuition, leadership training, career counseling, community service mentorship, and education in English, Khmer writing, and entrepreneurship.
Why We are Excited
EYC and SSI have long histories of creating access to education and opportunities for underserved youth from poor communities. We are aligned in values and believe:
- Our students hold great promise and potential to be leaders in their communities;
- Without support, many of these students would be forced to drop out of school, thereby limiting their future opportunities;
- A culture of giving back and leadership development are critical components of the programming;
- By empowering youth through education and access to opportunities, they have the chance to break the cycle of poverty.
The Leadership Academy fits well with EYC and offers us a chance to learn from SSI’s work, particularly in the area of individual mentoring, which has been a vital component of the Leadership Academy. For many years, EYC has informally provided housing to students who have no home or are from the countryside. These students live at the EYC schools rent-free, which provides them with safety and security while they work to better their lives through education. The addition of the Leadership Academy’s residence component allows us to formalize this program and create more room and board opportunities for high school and university students in need.
The integration of the Leadership Academy into EYC expands our scope and reach without additional overhead costs. Most importantly, it allows the Leadership Academy youth to continue their education and development. Finally, we are excited that Chomnan Sok, LA Program Manager, has joined the EYC team and we look forward to his contributions.
Mergers between non-profits are not common. The fact that SSI has entrusted us with their students is a vote of confidence in our model and leadership. We did not enter into this agreement lightly, and we are confident that this new chapter in EYC’s story will deepen our impact and create real change for the students we serve.