The mission of UCAM is to promote health, social, economic and educational opportunities for Cambodians and other new Americans in Minnesota.
Each year, over 350 volunteers provide more than 10,000 hours of volunteering services. UCAM provides its clients with skills, tools and knowledge necessary to achieve long-term economic independence and successful social integration into American society while fostering ethnic heritage and cultural preservation. The five main areas of programming are Elders, Families, Youth, Health, and Legal Services.
In 1993 two existing organizations, Refugee and Immigrant Resource Center, RIRC (which focused on services to Elders and their families) and Khmer Youth Leadership Program, KYLP (which focused on services to youth) merged together to create United Cambodian Association of Minnesota (UCAM). The two organizations merged to focus programming on the entire Cambodian community in Minnesota and to become the Cambodian center for the State. In 1995 the organization bought a UCAM building in downtown St. Paul. By1998 the organization continued rapid growth and UCAM’s budget was $1.6 million with 50 staff.
1998 was also a year of turnover in leadership as several Executive Directors moved through the organization. By 1999 funding for the organization dropped to $1 million and the organization sustained a 20% drop in funding every year for the next few years. In 2000 many Board Members resigned and within two years many of the staff left the organization and there were concerns about management. The community came together to keep UCAM going. Thol Sok took leadership as the Chair of Saving UCAM Committee and Yorn Yan came in as a consultant to look at UCAM internally and externally.
In 2005 the Board was restructured and included new Board Members. Yorn Yan was hired as the Executive Director in March. At that time, the finances of the organization were in the red. In 2007 and 2008 Services expanded as additional funding was secured. In 2015 UCAM became 50% social services and 50% social entrepreneur. Now, 50% of UCAM income comes from its Adult Day Care’s fee for services.
Currently, UCAM has five major programs: 1) Adult Day Care, 2) Elder Independent Living, 3) Youth Development, 4) Health Education, and 5) Immigration. Each year, UCAM serves about 1,500 clients: seniors, adult, and youth living in the state of Minnesota.
Cambodians comprise a voting majority of UCAM’s Board of Directors and the Board chair is Cambodian. Approximately 80% of UCAM’s staff, including the Executive Director, is Cambodian. Volunteers include Cambodian and non-Cambodian youth, adults, and elders. They serve as English and citizenship tutors, Khmer arts and language instructors, cultural celebration organizers, senior companions, and mentors.