Velcro Companies and Cambodian Children's Fund Have Broken Ground on Neeson Cripps Academy
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Velcro Companies and Cambodian Children's Fund Have Broken Ground on Neeson Cripps Academy

Landmark Education Academy for Impoverished Cambodian Students Breaks Ground

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 22nd August 2015 – Velcro Companies and Cambodian Children’s Fund have broken ground on the Neeson Cripps Academy, an ambitious project that will provide STEM (science, technology, engineering  and mathematics) education to thousands of disadvantaged Cambodian students.

When it is completed the Neeson Cripps Academy (NCA) will provide impoverished Cambodian children with high quality education opportunities through enhanced learning spaces, access to the latest digital technologies, teacher training, a focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and designated study spaces all within an environment conducive to critical thinking and gaining an understanding of the world. 

“Today marks the most exciting step in Cambodian Children’s Fund’s 11 year journey. The NCA will deliver high quality education to the children in this area and set the way for careers in the engineering, science and technology fields”, said Cambodian Children’s Fund executive director, Scott Neeson. “Such an opportunity is only possible through the support of Velcro Companies. This building will fill the need for safe learning spaces, teacher development and digital technologies, and provide a hub for the local community”.

The construction of the Neeson Cripps Academy is a gift from Velcro Companies. 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. The building is named after Robert Cripps, former Velcro Companies Chairman, and Scott Neeson, Founder and Executive Director of Cambodian Children’s Fund.

The Velcro Companies Leadership Team and members of the Board travelled to Phnom Penh to attend the ground-breaking ceremony near the former landfill site in Steung Meanchey.

“We feel privileged to continue our work with the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and establish the Neeson Cripps Academy to educate children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to world-class teachers and resources,” said Fraser Cameron, President and CEO, Velcro Companies. “Through this partnership, we’re also inspiring the next generation of innovators and honoring our long-time former Chairman, Robert Cripps, and his commitment to leadership.” 

Members of the Velcro Leadership Team have also been spending time participating in CCF programs and getting to know students and the wider community that will benefit from the NCA.

“The children of the Steung Meanchey are an inspiration” said Scott Neeson. “They have risen from the ashes and seize the opportunities offered to them. With so many now in high school, the NCA facilitates careers in the high demand fields of engineering, technology and the sciences. These children and youth hunger for education and the opportunity to lift their families, present and future, into safe, sustainable lives”.

The landmark building has been designed pro-bono by acclaimed New York firm CookFox Architects. The ecologically integrated design and sustainable strategies will help create a healthy environment for learning and limit the school’s water and energy usage. European hedge fund managers Marshall Wace are contributing to the fit out of the building which will feature low energy lighting, natural ventilation, open-air learning spaces, integrated bamboo, and terracotta solar shading. The school will also include international standard science laboratories.

"Our studio believes deeply in the concept of global citizenship. We are thrilled to design a state of the art educational environment to support CCF, Velcro Companies, and Marshall Wace's passion in training the next generation of leaders." said architect Rick Cook.

The key objectives of the NCA are to provide:

● International standard science laboratories
● Support e-Learning throughout the facility
● Open and flexible study areas
● Building layout focused on collaboration
● Large, flexible areas for community use - including community education programs
● A teacher training hub, to be used by both CCF and public school teachers
● Virtual international exchanges

ABOUT THE BUILDING

The ecologically integrated school will provide Cambodia’s most impoverished children with a high-quality education that includes a robust English language program, STEM subjects, and access to the latest digital technologies and global connectivity through e-Learning. 

The building’s sustainable strategies will help create a healthy environment for learning and limit the school’s water and energy usage. Operating costs will be reduced by low energy lighting, low flow fixtures, abundant natural light and integrated solar shading. Programmatically, the building is conceived in two parts. A long, east-west oriented wing takes advantage of the local climate conditions with natural ventilation, open-air learning spaces, and a shading screen of bamboo on the southern facade. The north-south wing contains the school’s science and technology spaces, which are conditioned by highly efficient mechanical systems and shaded by deep terracotta horizontal and vertical fins. 

A significant portion of the five-story building is dedicated to flexible gathering spaces designed to encourage long-term social networks and collaborative learning, and to provide meeting areas for the wider community. The ground level is open to provide a covered gathering space with a visual connection to the large courtyard garden, and to minimize the school’s vulnerability to flooding. The rooftop features plantings that will minimize solar heat gain, reduce storm water runoff, and provide educational opportunities in the curriculum, and a covered, multi-purpose athletic court to facilitate outdoor activities in all conditions. 

Using biophilic design principles, the school will incorporate natural and biomimetic materials. Exposed concrete will be patterned with a design inspired by traditional Khmer textiles, imprinting the school of the future with a connection to the rich cultural history of Cambodia. 

ABOUT CAMBODIAN CHILDREN’S FUND

Cambodian Children’s Fund transforms the country's most impoverished kids into tomorrow's leaders, by delivering education, family support and community development programs into the heart of Cambodia’s most impoverished communities.  Today, there are more than 2,300 students enrolled in CCF’s Education Program.

CCF believes that with the right education and support, one child has the potential to lift an entire family out of poverty and that a generation of educated children has the power to change a whole society. Through intensive, long-term investments in children, CCF is helping students build the skills, confidence and integrity they need to become the progressive spokespeople and leaders of change in their community.

Through 6 core program areas - Education, Leadership, Community Outreach, Healthcare, Childcare and Vocational Training - CCF takes a holistic, on-the-ground approach to developing integrated yet simple solutions to the complex issues of poverty.

ABOUT VELCRO COMPANIES

Velcro Companies is a technology-driven, global organization providing fastening solutions that solve problems in simple, elegant and surprising ways for businesses and consumers around the world. We have a heritage of innovation spanning more than 50 years and own over 400 active patents and numerous trademarks, including the VELCRO® trademark, which is registered throughout the world. We develop and deliver solutions for customers through an integrated production and service system that includes manufacturing locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain and China and sales offices around the world. To buy genuine VELCRO® brand products and to find out more about our company, visit www.velcro.com.

Note to editors:

At Velcro Companies, we are proud that VELCRO® brand products have become a part of everyday life, but that ubiquity sometimes produces confusion. The VELCRO® trademark should be used only when referring to genuine VELCRO® brand fasteners.  Non-VELCRO® brand products should be identified by their functional terms, such as “hook and loop,” “self-adhesive straps,” and so forth.  The VELCRO® mark should always be used as an adjective and never as a noun or a verb.  The term “Velcro Companies” should be used when referring to our company and its executives.
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ABOUT COOKFOX ARCHITECTS

COOKFOX Architects is an architectural studio dedicated to a vision of integrated, environmentally responsive design. We believe good design is sustainable and we are committed to being wise stewards of our shared natural and cultural resources. Guided by our passion for excellence, belief in the collaborative process, and persistent curiosity, COOKFOX pursues projects that allow us to fundamentally re-think how people interact with buildings and the natural environment. 

For images of the event, please email ryan@cambodianchildrensfund.org