The Dragon Kim Foundation, an Orange County-based nonprofit whose mission is to inspire our youth to impact their communities while discovering and pursuing their passions, has announced the finalists for the 2022 Dragon Challenge competition to be held at the Winifred Smith Hall at UCI in Irvine on Thursday, September 8 at 7 PM.
This year marks the seven-year anniversary of the Foundation, whose Fellowship program empowers high school students of all demographics and social backgrounds to go out into the world and make a difference in the lives of others, especially those who are disadvantaged. Annually, the Fellowship program awards community service grants of up to $5,000 to the teams that enables them to create and manage a service project that will impact their community.
The three finalists were recently chosen from the 35 Fellowship projects run this summer by 71 high school students from Arizona, California, and Nevada.
The projects and teams selected to compete in the Challenge are:
Hoops & Coders – Gabrielle DeCuir and Shrika Andhe, juniors at Valencia High School in Placentia, ran their program during the consecutive weeks of July 18, July 25, and August 1. Called Hoops & Coders, their program used a curriculum they developed to expose young women, primarily in elementary and middle school, to computer science and basketball. Their goal was to show them they are capable of achieving success in industries where women are historically underrepresented. The teens developed a 57-page workbook that was implemented at Higher Ground Youth & Family Services, a mentoring organization for underserved youth living in Anaheim, and the Boys & Girls Club of Brea – Placentia – Yorba Linda. Each participant developed an app based on their own personal interests, including sewing, softball, music, art, languages, storytelling, baking, movies, and many more. The project directly benefitted 45 students and indirectly touched another 106 people.
Una Curita A La Vez: Community Health Fair in Escondido – Odalis Cruz, Esmeralda Matias, and Jennifer Gaspar Angeles, all three seniors at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, held their Una Curita A La Vez: Community Health Fair in Escondido in partnership with Neighborhood Healthcare and Feeding San Diego. The teens offered COVID-19 vaccines and a variety of free health screenings including blood pressure, glucose, and dental. The three distributed food including fresh fruit, vegetables, and dry goods. Attendees could visit 13 booths to learn about medical organizations and resources. The project served 114 people, the majority being Hispanic or Latino with no health insurance, and indirectly impacted another 270. Una Curita A La Vez was inspired by the teens’ personal experiences with their families. They have witnessed firsthand the refusal to seek medical attention in Latino communities due to lack of insurance or financial barriers.
Project Fusion – Amisha Chandra and Zainab Hemani, students at Legacy Magnet Academy of Tustin, developed an educational program to address society’s often unrealistic stereotypes along with misdirection from social media about body size, shape, or appearance that affect the mental wellbeing of young minds. The teens conducted workshops for students featuring an array of experts in nutrition, social work, kinesthesia, and other fields. Their informative and entertaining project about true wellness and breaking stereotypes reached 135 kids and teens and connected with 15 companies. Another 415 people were indirectly affected by the program.
At the annual Dragon Challenge competition, the Fellowship teams will present their projects in the style of the Shark Tank television show to three distinguished judges. They are Dean Ian O. Williamson from UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business, Anita Ortiz, President and Founder of LAinclusionista®, a boutique consulting practice, and 211OC President and CEO Karen Williams. The judges will select one of the three projects to receive an additional $5,000 to continue working in the community.
“We’re so proud of our Fellows this year,” said Dragon Kim Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director Grace Tsai Kim. “Each team identified problems in the world they wanted to address and worked hard all summer to create a community service project to effect change.”
Sponsorship opportunities are still available for the 2022 Dragon Challenge with all proceeds benefitting the Dragon Kim Foundation’s programs. For more information, visit http://dragonkimfoundation.org
The Fellowship was founded in honor of the late Dragon Kim, a talented young musician, athlete, and scholar who wanted to help others, and has become a seedbed for the next generation of creative thinkers and entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their communities.