Quincy Jones and the Harvard School of Public Health awarded the first-ever Q Prize in January to Scott Neeson, who quit a successful career in Hollywood and moved to Cambodia to rescue hundreds of homeless and impoverished children.

Scott Neeson is executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF), a safe house for Cambodia’s orphaned, abandoned, and abused children. Created by Neeson in 2003, the CCF serves 240 children from amongst the most impoverished and uneducated of Cambodia’s population, those at greatest risk of child trafficking.

Most of CCF’s children were rescued from Stoeng Meanchey, Phnom Penh’s notorious rubbish dump. It is there that hundreds of other children continue to live and work, picking through the refuse for recyclable metals and hard plastics. Neeson left a successful career as an executive at 20th Century Fox and Sony, and moved to Phnom Penh in 2004 to work full-time on the charity. The CCF offers shelter, nutritional meals, a comprehensive education that includes English and Khmer reading and writing, math, computer training plus in-house medical services a cultural program of dance and drama, and a vocational training program.

“Scott Neeson’s selfless, remarkable commitment to the children of Cambodia represents a genuine profile in courage,” Quincy Jones said. “I am humbled by what Scott Neeson has done, and am privileged to recognize his contribution by presenting him with the first-ever Q Prize.”

A fundraiser for the Q Prize was held in New York City on Jan. 24 at New York’s prestigious Core Club. The highlight of the event came when Neeson told the overflow crowd of celebrities and financiers that he needed help to stay afloat.

Motivation coach Tony Robbins called out, asking Neeson how much he needed. When he answered $600,000, Robbins pledged one-third if others matched him.

Famed designer Donna Karan raised her hand, followed quickly by nutrition guru Dr. Dean Ornish, and the deal was done.

The Jan. 24 event took place during National Mentoring Month (NMM), a campaign held each January to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth. As a highlight of his year’s campaign, the Harvard School of Public Health named Quincy Jones as its first-ever Mentor of the Year. The campaign’s theme is “Pass It On.

“Quincy Jones leadership in creating the Q Prize breathes life into the concept of ‘Pass It On” by shining a spotlight on Scott Neeson’s profound contribution, and encouraging each of us to do our part to help the world’s children, said Dr. Jay Winsten, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We are proud to honor Quincy Jones as Mentor of the Year.”

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