Educational Institutions

Sustainable Schools International

  • Boulder, CO

Mission Statement

Sustainable Schools International bridges gaps in access to education by improving schools in rural
Cambodia and by exposing US students to the link between education and
economic security in developing countries.

Main Programs

  1. Program 1
  2. Education
  3. Leadership
  4. Sustainability
Service Areas



Cambodia, Kampong Speu Province, Oral District

ruling year


Executive Director since 2016


Mrs. Rita Mahoney



cambodia, sustainable, school, international, education, service learning, khmer, music, english, library

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Physical Address

2102 Kalmia Circle

Boulder, CO 80304


Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Economic Development (S30)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (Q01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

By 2013, SSI will provide access to education to 1,924 poor rural
Cambodian children by continuing to support 3 primary schools, 1
secondary school and a high school scholarship program that will prove
the concept of long-term economic sustainability.

Within 3 years, SSI will also create and implement its Awareness to Action program in 32 schools in the US, thereby expanding the global awareness and economic conscience of over 14,000 students.


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

A School That Works! Sustainability is a challenge in Cambodia. Right now, because the Cambodian government and education system are so weak, our on-going support of the school is necessary to keep the building functioning as an educational institution. 50% student drop out begins in third grade because children need to work. Most villagers in this region work chopping down trees to sell wood sticks for cooking fuel to the capital city of Phnom Penh. This activity is destroying the environment, the water supply, and the future of the children who attend our school. WE AIM TO STOP THIS DOWNWARD SPIRAL by bringing in vocational and life skills training that will empower students and families with different choices to make a living. Our goal is to make the Grady Grossman Primary School income-generating and self-supporting in 3 years to fund our school programs below. In doing so, we will conserve and protect the forest environment for future generations. Current Programs: Feed the Teachers, Music Program, English & Computer Teacher, School Supplies, Bi-Lingual Library.


Population(s) Served


Program 2


Sustainable Schools International directly responds to the reality that
many existing and even new school buildings in rural Cambodia lack
operational funds to pay teachers a living wage, retain economically
disadvantaged students, and maintain and upgrade school facilities. 
As a result we see 80% drop out of primary school, beginning in 3rd grade. A Primary Education a save a child from exploitation as a sex
worker, dump scavenger, or from marrying very young and producing many
children with no income to feed them.
The purpose of the education program is to directly respond to
problems of student retention, especially girls, and relevant education.

Parents identify the reasons and the solutions to teacher and student absenteeism.

Through direct support of Khmer teachers, as a supplement to their
Ministry of Education salary, teachers are made accountable for their
performance to the school supporting committee.


The committee will decide how it would like to enhance the state
academic curriculum by offering enrichment classes that teach life
skills that the committee and their community deems valuable.



Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use



Program 3


School Sustaining Committees are volunteer associations made up of
local community members, men and women, from various socio-economic
groups. Everyone from the community is welcome to participate.  Through
personal transformation workshops and daily leadership coaching by our
on-site staff they learn:

Five Core Values

Participation.  Communication.  Honesty.  Trust.  Solidarity.
Members of School Sustaining Committees begin the process of healing
the fabric of their community by coming together for the common purpose of making their school work.  
They assess the needs of the school and figure out how to mobilize the community to sustain their educational needs.

They assess the needs of the community and devise ways the school might be able to address those needs. 

Importantly, all benefits that come from the school to the
community are accountable first and foremost to the School Supporting
Committee, not external donors (even SSI).


Community Development

Population(s) Served




Program 4


SSI commits to fund the Education Program 100% for 2 years, 75% in year 3, 50% in year 4, 25% in year 5.

Year 6 : Village economy sustains the Education Fund 100% through income generation projects initiated by the school committee.


Infrastructure requests that require ongoing payment of
salaried staff to function, such as a library or an additional school
building, will require that the income-generation to pay the ongoing
salary expenses be in place before any major infrastructure gift is

Since the goal of the Sustainability Program is to eventually have the
community funding its own Education Program, we work with Cambodian
villagers own resources, knowledge and aspirations. 

SSI helps them form a Plan of Action and provides resources to start-up income-generating small business that will a positive impact on a triple bottom line, economy, environment, society.


Community, Business & Industry

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General


Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)



Service Areas



Cambodia, Kampong Speu Province, Oral District

Social Media

Funding Needs

We need $36,000 per year for 5 years to make the Education, Leadership, Sustainability program successful in a primary school. We need $45,000 per year for 5 years to make  the Education, Leadership, Sustainability program successful in a secondary school. We need $30,000 per year to maintain a High School and College scholarship program from 25 students.  We need $100,000 for operating expenses.


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Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31


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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Sustainable Schools International



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Executive Director

Mrs. Rita Mahoney


Rita brings extensive international and organizational development experience to SSI. After robust career consulting to global corporations on intercultural skills and strategic alignment she was a performance coach to senior level executives. Most recently she was Acting Country Director for the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan and Moldova. The programs she oversaw are very similar to those that SSI sponsors in Cambodia; education, small enterprise development, and youth development. She has a long history with Cambodia. During the reign of terror under the Khmer Rouge she volunteered for American Friends Service Committee and gave presentations raising the awareness of the atrocities occurring. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines she was an instructional supervisor in a refugee camp preparing Khmer for resettlement in the US. Rita holds a Masters Degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive Director

"When the Khmer Rouge regime destroyed the entire Cambodian education system during its four-year extreme Maoist revolution in the late 1970s, education itself was the enemy and all educated people were targets. It is not surprising that an educated person today would still fear for his life when an ex-Khmer Rouge commander moves into his village to conduct massive illegal logging. Illiterate former soldiers can work in an illegal trade at a wage five times what a teacher makes. 
Our education vision realizes that a school is an integral part of the community it serves, and a natural community center in a remote rural village where it is the only permanent structure. We are a different kind of education organization, forging a partnership with the communities we serve by involving them in the education of their children and
supporting their aspirations to sustain their school without us. To be an effective partner, the most important thing we do is help people make sense of and work to transform their historical, social, political and economic situations. In order to transform those situations, we have to learn to trust in each other and pursue change together.

SSI is committed to promoting and strengthening community trust,
partnership, diverse leadership, and empowerment. Implementing this
ambitious approach begins by creating an organization with the human
capacity and resources to make a 5-10 year commitment to each community toward education sustainability. Sustainable Schools International is born of this commitment."



Mr. Andy Fenselau


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?