SANTA ANA, Calif. — For six years, the Dragon Kim Foundation has awarded money to teen fellows, each developing projects to share with elementary school children. This year, they’re expanding with something a little different.

The foundation, headquartered in Irvine, will hold a four-day STEAM camp running from June 20 to June 24.

What You Need To Know

  • The Dragon Kim Foundation, headquartered in Irvine, awards fellowships to teens every year for social entrepreneurship projects

  • High school students apply individually, in pairs, or as a team of three and are awarded $5,000 in funding if selected

  • The fellows are set up with local mentors who meet with them weekly and help them learn how to budget and fundraise

  • Four projects will be presented at a four-day camp starting June 20, serving 100 students free at the Mix Academy

The fellows will present programs free for 100 students at the Santa Ana Mix Academy. The concept was piloted last year and drew 80 students.

Arie Grace Lugo, the program manager for the fellowship, said the goal is to be good partners with the community by providing a needed service.

“Instead of sending high schoolers out to provide a one off camp, we’re really building something in Santa Ana,” Lugo said.

Teens can apply to the fellowship starting Nov. 1, with selections made by March after in-person interviews. The training provided develops the skills of entrepreneurs, like raising money and creating business plans. But the foundation targets all of it toward social goals, especially programs targeted at empowering kids.

This year, 72 students have been funded for 35 projects to the tune of $175,000 through the Dragon Kim Fellowship.

“They learn so much about using and partnering with the community. It’s all about sustainability and how to maintain their vision,” she said. 

Students go through 50 hours of training, working with mentor volunteers from nearby corporate businesses like Edwards Life Sciences. Through three separate weekend training sessions, students learn the business and philosophy of creating a program for the betterment of the community. 

The fellows themselves attend their workshops free of charge, with all meals provided by the foundation.

“We have a really socioeconomically diverse cohort and we work really hard to make sure our program is accessible,” Lugo said. 

Each project, which can include one to three high school fellows, is funded with $5,000, but students won’t get more from the foundation. Instead, they learn how to fundraise, and if they can, get materials or other program necessities donated.

Students will move from program to program in groups, exploring a new topic each day. One lesson, called “Let’s Learn about Public Health” aims to boost public health literacy to students. There’s also a coding camp and a lesson where students help paint a mural at the school.

Lugo said the foundation wants to continue running the program each year so local parents can mark it down as a guarantee. 

“The community can rely on us for that service,” she said.