she decided to give her some advice and also reached out to a friend who had recently opened an investment firm. “When he said ‘of course’, that’s when it clicked,” Ouk said.
It was in that moment that ConNEXTions was born. With firsthand knowledge of the challenges facing low-income families and underrepresented communities, Saran decided to focus on connecting underrepresented young adults to mentors and resources that help them reach their goals by increasing their financial knowledge, building their social capital and connecting them with the community.
Using a cohort model, participants agree to participate in the program for six months and are paired with a mentor and other community professionals. There is no cost for the program and participants are provided with networking opportunities and events, in addition to bi-weekly workshops. In the workshops, they work on financial literacy, branding themselves, personality assessments, confidence building, networking, resume writing, interview skills and other topics to help them prepare for their future.
The next cohort will begin in June and run until December and culminate in a graduation ceremony. This past December the second cohort of twelve young people graduated at a ceremony held at Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, where the ConNEXTions program takes place. The participants were treated to a dinner, provided by Lemongrass Madison, which is owned by her brother Seren. Her sister, Sarrut created a video featuring the cohort members. Each member also took a professional headshot photo and was given a box of business cards to get them started on their professional journey.
Recognizing that she still had room to dream, Ouk created Dream Bigger as a vehicle to connect to adults in need of financial and career coaching. Using her experience and passion, Ouk has set out to help make financial counseling within the reach of everyone and offers an array of services, including a personal financial review, budget and goal setting, retirement planning and help with setting up a small business or non-profit.
Participants of ConNEXTions lauded their experience and the opportunity to be paired with an experienced mentor. Many plan to stay in touch with their mentors and some are already working in their chosen field. If you or someone you know is interested in being in the next cohort, applications are currently being accepted. Also needed are mentors in a variety of fields.
To learn more about how to become a member or mentor you can visit the ConNEXTions website at connextions.org, where you can apply online and review the expectations and benefits.