New Neeson Cripps Academy brings world-class education into Phnom Penh’s poorest communities

A new, state of the art education facility in the heart of Steung Meanchey’s most impoverished communities opened on February 16th, just 300 metres from where the notorious former Phnom Penh landfill site once stood. The Academy was fully funded and constructed by Velcro Companies for Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF).

The Neeson Cripps Academy (NCA) provides high quality education through enhanced learning spaces and a focus on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The building was designed by COOKFOX Architects, a renowned firm responsible for landmark buildings such as the Bank of America headquarters. They have created a building which offers an optimal learning space within an environmentally friendly, solar powered building.

The five-storey NCA hosts 400 students, 30 teachers, 15 classrooms, 4 teacher workrooms, 2 international standard science labs, 2 computer labs, an art studio, a gallery space, a teacher training hub, e-learning facilities, a rooftop garden and a sports court. All are designed to work together to create a new generation of multi-skilled and fully rounded students.

“I arrived here in 2004 with the simple aim of getting children off of the appalling Steung Meanchey garbage dump and into school,” says Scott Neeson, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director. “Today, with a solid, developed-world education program in place, and so many students moving into secondary school and high school, we need to ensure a smooth path to university and into careers that challenge our youth and meet the demands of Cambodia’s fast growing economy. We knew the need and potential ,and Velcro Companies and the Cripps family brought the vision to life: a state-of-the art STEM learning centre. After twelve tough years working here, the Neeson Cripps Academy is a remarkable gift. The poorest children in Cambodia can now access the best education. I can’t thank the Cripps family and Velcro Companies enough for their support of CCF and Cambodian education”.

The building is named after Scott Neeson and Robert Cripps, former Velcro Companies Chairman. Robert Cripps says, “There are few things more fulfilling in life than helping someone’s dream take form and knowing that it will benefit many people for years to come. It was always Scott’s dream to have a place where kids in Steung Meanchey could pursue a high quality education in a holistic setting. The Neeson Cripps Academy is the fulfillment of that vision, and I am honored to have played a part in its development.”

Velcro Companies is a technology-driven organization that provides solutions for businesses and consumers around the world, and is committed to advancing education and improving the lives of children across the globe. Cambodian Children’s Fund has spent the last 12 years developing acclaimed education and community programs designed to transform former garbage workers into the leaders of tomorrow.

Fraser Cameron, CEO of Velcro Companies, says: “The Neeson Cripps Academy is a fitting honor for Robert Cripps, who led the company for many years and inspired its commitment to supporting education programs around the world. Making amazing connections is at the heart of our business, and CCF truly embodies that spirit.”

Rick Cook, founder at COOKFOX, says, “We set out to design the healthiest, safest and most effective school building possible that would help CCF to provide a world-class education. The design is inspire by Khmer culture, weaving together natural materials, and traditional building elements with high-performance sustainable building technologies to ensure an optimal learning environment. We are proud to have designed a building that will train the next generation of Cambodian’s brightest citizens.”

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