We believe that Cambodia’s youth are the key to its future. In 2002, we started the Building a Brighter Future program to help make this future a reality. Our program is simple. We survey youths from all over Cambodia, and select the most promising applicants for a fully funded education at a college in Phnom Penh. With a degree in an international industry like engineering, nursing or finance, young Cambodians can pull themselves out of poverty, and their country out of stagnation. We don’t have billions (or even millions) of dollars to spend, but we are determined to help all the Cambodians we can. One by one.
Our idea is to build an educated, empowered, and gender inclusive Cambodian citizenry through higher education. We start by looking for potential students all over Cambodia, advertising our program in orphanages and schools. When judging applicants, we try to accept more women than men into the program, to balance gender inequalities. Still: students’ fiscal needs and personal motivation are the top criteria for acceptance.
Once they’re accepted, we bring our students to Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital), where they live together in our program’s Student House. We pay for their food, clothes, school supplies, and transportation expenses, and enroll them in the college of their choice.
We want our graduates to be the next generation of Cambodian lay leaders and professionals.
That’s why our program offers its students on-site classes designed to foster a generation of empowered Cambodian citizens. We began with basic courses in English language and computer skills. And, as of 2014, our students attend classes in debate, civic leadership, Cambodian history, and professional development.