Our Story

Our story is centered around the beautiful and sacred mountain region of Phnom Kulen  in Northern Cambodia. Once the center of the great Khmer Empire, it also experienced many tumultuous years of civil war and occupation serving as jungle covered battlegrounds for many fighting factions in the latter part of the 20th century.

Views of the Phnom Kulen area

In 2014, a local guide named Mr. Ta, who spent much of his childhood at Phnom Kulen trying to survive the wars and occupation, brought Gordon Elliott and his wife, Claire Handleman to the Phnom Kulen area. Gordon and Claire experienced the difficult situation facing Kulen Mountain and much of rural, Northern Cambodia. Still reeling from years of hardship, the opportunity for education was almost non-existent at Kulen Mountain. Gordon returned to New York and quickly partnered with his friend Philip Mactaggart to make sure the communities had what they needed to rebuild their schools and future.

Empowering Cambodian Youth To Change Their World

So, what is our mission? Kulen Outreach is dedicated to offering disadvantaged children from the remote rural region of Phnom Kulen a complete education, emphasizing English language fluency and computer skills. Project-based academic courses are taught parallel with life skills: mental health, self-respect, nutrition, team-building, and self-expression.

We prepare our graduates to be leaders both within their communities and in an increasingly globalized economy. Our goal is simple: To empower our students with the education, self-assurance, and confidence to take on meaningful roles in a rapidly changing world.


How do we accomplish our mission?

Kulen Outreach achieves its goals by providing these children with high quality education and by exposing them to the myriad of opportunities from rural primary schools, learning centers, enrichment programs and access to higher education at our urban campus and dormitory.



Program Founded

Gordon and Claire visited the communities of Phnom Kulen with Mr. Ta. Within a few months, Kulen Outreach was formed and a plan was formed.


Primary Schools Open

Kulen Outreach opens two primary schools in the communities of Popel and Bear. 100 students arrived, ready to learn. Within a year that number jumped to 160 students.


Basic Needs Delivered

School supplies, school uniforms, shoes, computers, solar panels, internet, kitchen supplies, hygiene facilities and the list goes on delivered to our primary schools.


First Tomato War Fundraiser

As our team grows, so does our creative fundraising.Philip Mactaggart and the Millbrook Community, north of New York City hosted the first Tomato fundraiser to help Kulen Outreach build its program.


Siem Reap Campus and Dormitory Opens

Realizing the need to get our primary students from the rural countryside access a higher level of education, our program locates a space and opens a campus and dormitory in urban Siem Reap.


Land Purchase

As our campus in Siem Reap proves successful and grows in population, we quickly realize it’s time to buy land and build a larger campus. We purchased land 1.5 km from the centre of Siem Reap, large enough to accommodate a large campus for 50 students.


New Campus Design

Atelier Cole and Building Trust Cambodia design the new boarding school campus.


New Campus Opens

Groundbreaking starts in 2019 and we finish the first phase of our Siem Reap Campus.


Third Primary School Opens

With our campus in Siem Reap working, Kulen Outeach teams up with Building Trust International to design and build another primary school in the Varin district north of Phnom Kulen. 35 students show up for school on day one. Within a year, that number jumped to 50 students. The school is thriving independently, demonstrating its ability to succeed on its own.


Campus Extension Completed

As our campus swells in population size to 50 students, construction begins on the 2nd phase of our boarding school bringing our capacity to house and teach 75 students.


New Learning Center Design

We started designing a Learning Center located between our two primary schools. This center will prepare students for our boarding school in Siem Reap by offering engaging, playful, and fun English lessons and activities.

Our Team

Cambodian Team

  • Kiani (Kiki) Vereycken
    School Director and Head of English

    Kiki is the school director and head of English at Kulen Outreach’s Campus in Siem Reap. Kiki received her bachelor’s degree at KdG University of Applied Sciences and Arts in 2022. After graduation, Kiki taught English and Dutch at several schools in Belgium. Her passions are education and traveling.

  • Dries Deconynck
    Right-Hand School Director and Head of Project-Based Learning

    Dries is the right-hand of school director Kiki and head of Project-Based Learning. Dries received his bachelor's degree at Vives University Bruges in 2022. After graduation, he taught Dutch, electricity, and Project-Based Learning at several schools in Belgium. At our campus, he creates tailor-made project-based academic courses for our students.

  • Sokchenda Mam (Mr. Ta)
    Operations Director

    Ta is in charge of managing our program's schools on a local level. Having located Kulen Outreach's schools and established a strong relationship with the local population at each site, he has been instrumental to our organization's success. Ta is a lifelong resident of Siem Reap has spent over 20 years as a reputable local guide, taking visitors to the various temples and sites around the area. Having grown up during the war-torn years of Cambodia's past, Ta understands the importance of educating Cambodia's youth and is committed to its cause.

  • Ro Seng
    English Teacher

    Ro Seng serves as one of Kulen Outreach’s English teachers who works with our students at our campus in Siem Reap. She is currently studying at the University of South East Asia working towards her bachelor’s degree in English Education. Ro is the perfect fit for our program, since she used to be one of our own students. She is sensitive to our rural students' needs in Siem Reap and she helps them excel at English and other vocational opportunities.

  • Pheak Keo

    Pheak Keo is the caregiver at our Siem Reap campus. She comes from a rural area in Cambodia and worked herself up to a confident empowered leader. With her background as an artist and musician, she provides a variety of activities and workshops for our students. She sets a great example of what an empowered strong Cambodian woman looks like for the children who live at our campus.

  • Kimsoan
    Head Chef Siem Reap Campus

    Kimsoan has been with Kulen Outreach since the beginning. She not only prepares wonderful meals for our students studying at the Siem Reap campus, she also helps supervise and even teach our students her culinary tricks and skills. We’d all be hungry without her!

  • Youern
    Director of Rural Operations

    Phnom Penh born Yornn studied education at Norton University in Phnom Penh and is certified as a Qualified Teacher by the Cambodian Ministry of Education. Since 2014, Yornn is head of operations of our two primary schools in Phnom Kulen. In this role he also oversees the team of teachers, ensuring adequate education for our 240 primary students.

Global Team

  • Gordon Ellliot

    Gordon is a television producer. He has spent the last four decades hosting, creating and selling pretty much every genre in TV. After forming his own company, Follow Productions in 2000, Gordon went on to create16 hit television series and win four Emmy awards that are currently gathering dust in his bedroom closet. He claims the best thing he ever produced were his four sons. He splits his time between his home in Sydney and wherever his wife Claire would like to visit. Gordon studied law at Sydney University in Australia.

  • Philip Mactaggart

    Philip remains a director and vice chair of the Mactaggart Family and Partners, where he spent 40 years at, but now spends more time now giving away money than making it. The joy that comes from helping others is a powerful message to oneself and others. His main focus over more than 30 years has been on helping to educate those who are not being educated through various education programs and charities. "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world" ( Nelson Mandela )

  • Claire Handleman
    Board Member

    Claire has been with the program since day one. She is no longer a practicing chef, but once upon a time she worked in some of the best restaurants in both New York and Thailand. Today, she is a mom--and it's her favorite job. She earned her BA in Global Studies at the University of Southern California, Santa Barbara.

Where We Work

Secondary Education & Dormitory

Siem Reap Campus

Primary Education

Popel School
Bear School
Varin School

Kulen Outreach offers many ways to get involved in our program. Whether it’s on the ground in Cambodia or from abroad, come join our cause!