In the Fall of 2016, we launched the Dragon Kim Fellowship Program to award community service grants to support motivated high schoolers that want to launch a service program to impact their communities. We named this fellowship in Dragon’s honor, to remember his desire to use his talents and his interests as a way to help others.

Applications rolled in from all over Southern California. Students were incredibly creative with their proposals, and we loved seeing so many students wanting to share their passions and to use their talents to improve their corners of the world. This made for a very tough time choosing.  Nevertheless, four projects and student teams really stood out. These outstanding students became our first class of Dragon Fellows.

We held our first Leadership Weekend in February, 2017. Our inspiring training team of Carla de Cervantes and Sam Song guided our Dragon Fellows as they delved into their core values, their personal mission statements, and their project vision. We put the Fellows through a crash course on project management, budgeting, team building, and presentation skills.  Lastly, we assigned mentors to each project team, to lend their experience and skills to help our budding social entrepreneurs create actionable plans to bring their project proposals to life. In April, we held a second Leadership weekend, where our Dragon Fellows dug deeper into the meaning and manifestation of personal leadership.  They also had face-to-face meetings with their mentors to refine their summer projects.

Then, in the summer, the Dragon Fellows put their ideas into action.  Come see what this first class accomplished, and learn a little about the lives they touched.

KEM Creative Studios

Kyra and Emilia ran two one-week summer camp programs for children at a transitional shelter at Alexandria House in downtown LA.  With parents that are either homeless or making the transition to having homes, these kids normally don’t get to spend their summer days in enriching activities.  Kyra and Emilia created for them an arts curriculum that starts by introducing kids to the primary colors, and advances to making Giacometti-inspired aluminum-covered wire sculptures. We watched young Ivan as he learned about how white paint added to bright paint mutes the hues. “I made LIGHT BLUE!” Ivan cried ecstatically.  Seeing the happiness in his smile, we were reminded of the simple and unadulterated joy children feel when they are having fun and learning.

Computers For All

Ruben and Bryan had an idea to teach kids about hardware computer science by helping them experience something most people never get to experience: building a computer from individual components. Together, these two high school seniors developed and refined a curriculum to teach 4th-6th graders in a transitional shelter in Los Angeles’ Korea Town how to build computers in just a few lessons. We watched as Brooklyn, an animated girl with her hair in braids, initially objected to touching the motherboard, too scared to lift it out of its box.  With encouragement from our Dragon Fellow team, Brooklyn ventured to carefully fit the motherboard next to the fans of her computer’s metal casing.  Our Dragon Fellows filled with pride as the hours went by watching the self confidence of their students grow as they learned that they, like every other student present, was capable of building his or her own computer.

Outdoor Opportunities

The four juniors that made up our Outdoor Opportunities team in Pasadena (Austin, Brendan, Matt, and Victor) all share a love for the great outdoors, but had an inkling that experiencing the outdoors was something that didn’t always cross socio-economic boundaries.  To address that, they created a 5 week program designed for high schoolers in the Pasadena area.  In the first two weeks, by hiring a professional lifeguard instructor, this team delivered a free class on lifeguarding, and then paid for lifeguarding certificates for their graduating students.  Now these new lifeguards can earn money to help their families while helping to keep people water-safe.  During the remaining weeks, these four taught outdoor survival skills, sharing fundamentals such as how to purify water in the wild, and how to start a fire using a magnesium block, dry leaves, and a knife.  Despite living close to so many beautiful outdoor areas, most of their students had never been on a hike, so when this team led them on three hikes in the Greater LA area, they successfully accomplished their mission: to bring outdoor opportunities to those in need.

Peer Genius

Miya and Hana came up with a simple and brilliant idea for Peer Genius: “It’s like Uber for tutoring.” Say you’re a high schooler struggling with quadratic equations (or another subject within science, math, or English).  With Peer Genius, you can go online and make an appointment with a fellow high school student who is a quadratic equations guru who will tutor you for free.  Free homework help is key for students who can’t afford to pay expensive private tutors.  On the other side, gurus get to share their knowledge and receive community service hours for sharing their smarts.  Genius!  Over the summer, Hana and Miya learned how to create a website storyboard, set and manage project milestones, and hire and manage developers – amazing real-world experiences for our young entrepreneurs.

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