Dragon Kim Foundation announces Fellowship Program teen selections, with cohort from Newport Beach schools

The Dragon Kim Foundation (DKF), an Orange County-based nonprofit, has announced the selection of 131 teens from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds living in Arizona, California and Nevada to the 2024 Dragon Kim Fellowship Program.

Serving as a social entrepreneurship incubator for high school youth, the foundation inspires them to impact their communities while discovering and pursuing their passions.

A total of nearly 500 teens from 107 high schools applied to the foundation’s eighth annual cohort. The finalists will now refine and implement the 60 individual community service projects they had submitted as teams to the foundation. The foundation is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and has again put forth a diverse cohort.

The teens proposed projects that channel their talents into a community service project that will help their communities. Projects come from a diverse set of subject areas including academics, arts, athletics, environmental, financial literacy, health and wellness and technology.

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Photos courtesy of Dragon Kim Foundation

(L-R) Corona del Mar High School’s Evan Razmjoo, 16, and Preston Kousoulas, 17, conceived of CodeQuest Kids that introduces underserved children in 6th-8th grade to coding skills

This year’s cohort included students from Newport Beach and Corona del Mar high schools. The CodeQuest Kids project was conceived by Evan Razmjoo, 16, and Preston Kousoulas, 17, both attending Corona del Mar High School. CodeQuest Kids aims to introduce underserved children in 6th-8th grade to coding skills through bootcamps, bridging the socio-economic opportunity gap and fostering future aspirations.

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(L-R) Sage Hill School’s Darren Huang, 15, and Grace Yan, 16, created Constructive Journalism 101, comprised of a kids’ news app and seminar series

Constructive Journalism 101, a project developed by Sage Hill School students Darren Huang,15, and Grace Yan, 16, has two parts: a kids’ news app that has already been made and a seminar series to teach critical analysis and journalism skills. The app will filter online news and be marketed to local schools, youth groups, or churches. The seminar series will collaborate with these groups to host events and workshops.

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(L-R) Sage Hill School’s Courtney Tetteh-Martey, 17, and partner Suraj Shah, 15, of Arnold O. Beckman High School created Debate Discovery Kids, that offers summer camps on debate fundamentals to underserved students

Debate Discovery Kids is the project of Sage Hill School student Courtney Tetteh-Martey, 17, and partner Suraj Shah, 15, of Arnold O. Beckman High School. The project offers two week-long summer camps to teach underserved students debate fundamentals in a fun, engaging environment, incorporating interactive workbooks, team-building exercises and debate rounds.

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(L-R) Ava Eimani, 17, of University High School and Sage Hill School’s Alexis Fazeli, 17, created a summer camp that equips children with life-saving skills and are geared to medical careers

Junior Medics was developed by Alexis Fazeli, 17, of Sage Hill School and Ava Eimani, 17, of University High School. The project centers on a summer camp that equips children with life-saving skills, medical terminology, and procedures through interactive activities, simulations, and a curated curriculum, introducing various medical careers.

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(L-R) Jonathan Shi, 17, of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School and Sage Hill School’s Caden Isola, 16, partnered to create Roots and Shoots, that empowers underserved youth with sustainable gardening skills

Sage Hill High School student Caden Isola, 16, and Jonathan Shi, 17, of St. Margaret’s Episcopal School have created Roots and Shoots that empowers underserved youth with sustainable gardening skills, promoting environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyles through interactive programs, inspiring the next generation of green thumbs.

The teams receive three weekends of leadership training and hands-on guidance from invested professionals, who will be their mentors. Then this summer, the teams will implement their projects, supported by grants of up to $5,000 from the foundation. As always, the leadership training, which elsewhere can cost several thousand dollars, is provided for free to each Dragon Fellow. The projects have the potential of benefiting thousands of people, including many living in challenged neighborhoods.

At the end of the program, the top teams will present their projects to a panel of esteemed judges at the annual Dragon Challenge, to be held in September. One team will win additional funding to continue their project.

In 2023, the foundation directly served 10,874 individuals and logged 14,624 of volunteer hours. The indirect impact over the last eight years of operations is immeasurable, but is estimated as of 2023 to have impacted close to 460,000 people. One hundred percent of the foundation’s graduating high school students go on to college or university, and 60 percent go on to attend the top 25 U.S. colleges and universities.

“We’re amazed with the creative entries we received for the 2024 Dragon Kim Fellowship Program,” said Dragon Kim Foundation Board Chairman and Co-founder Daniel Kim. “We thank our sponsors, mentors and other supporters for their belief in our 9-year-old organization. During this Year of the Dragon, we look forward to helping teens from diverse backgrounds bring attention to important issues in their communities that need changing and enabling them to strive to do that.”

The fellowship was founded in 2015 in honor of the late Dragon Kim, a talented young musician, athlete and scholar who wanted to help others. It has become a seedbed for the next generation of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs who want to create positive change.

For more information on the Dragon Kim Foundation, visit http://dragonkimfoundation.org.


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