When DDD’s CEO Jeremy Hockenstein and Chief Business Development Officer Michael Chertok met two senior executives of the Fossil Group at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England in April 2013, they realized that they had quite a few things in common. One of them was a joint belief in the transformative power of education. DDD’s social mission is built on a work-study model that has graduated over 800 talented youth from low-income communities and significantly improved their lives and the lives of their communities. The Fossil Foundation’s Fossil Unbound aims at accelerating and scaling innovative initiatives in education, life skills training and workforce development with the goal of reshaping the very systems that currently limit human potential.
Expanding its reach
In October 2014, the Fossil Foundation awarded a $250,000 grant to DDD to support an integrated education model across DDD’s offices in Africa (Kenya), Asia (Cambodia and Laos) and the newest office in North America (Virginia, USA). The grant will contribute to the development of DDD’s work-study program, including scholarships for youth and a facilitated e-learning component and vocational track options. In addition, the grant will enable DDD to establish partnerships with accredited universities and fund innovations in its human resources policies and program. Through these initiatives, DDD is better positioned to provide youth with professional experience and post-secondary education and training that will launch their professional careers. This way, DDD not only empowers youth economically, but also assist them to reach their full potential in becoming changemakers.
A profile in change
Chanthy Hoeurn, 26, is one such changemaker. Having grown up as the middle child of seven in a family of farm workers in a Cambodian village where most youth don’t have access to basic education, Chanthy learned about DDD through a local recruitment partner. She joined the pre-employment skills training program and was hired as a DDD Data Management Operator in 2011. Later that year, she enrolled at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh where she is now a senior majoring in Rural Development. With graduation approaching, Chanthy knows exactly how she will use her degree to support her community. “I want to stay and work here, so I can help my country. Someday I want to work in an NGO that supports children and adults from poor families to obtain education, because poverty doesn’t give them that opportunity. I know how important education is to make one’s life better,” she said.
DDD is excited to take this next step in the DDD-Fossil relationship to empower changemakers such as Chanthy. Over the next seven years, DDD anticipates to directly impact 12,000 youth through its program that enables them to break the cycle of poverty and become part of a professional workforce. With the Fossil Foundation’s support, DDD is able to strengthen its social mission of creating a lifetime of opportunities for disadvantaged youth.