The Bao Sei Foundation
The Bao Sei Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports the collegiate dreams of North Korean refugee students in the US.
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150 E 69 St, #4M
NY, NY 10021
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Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Individuals born in North Korea are inherently faced with a magnitude of struggles unfathomable to most others across the globe, and those struggles are only heightened for the select few who have been lucky enough to escape from the tyrannical dictatorship of the North Korean regime - upon reaching their countries of asylum and achieving their freedom, the struggles of these North Korean refugees continue to persist.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Bao Sei fundraises and spreads advocacy to provide scholarships for North Korean students to attend college in the United States that include both full coverage of academic costs and other basic living costs. Through monetary donations we sponsor two scholarship programs annually, our Student Assistance Fund Stipend Program and our Tuition Scholarship, to give North Korean refugees in the United States the ability to receive education, thus gaining an advantage in developing their future in their new homes. If selected as a recipient for The Student Assistance Fund Stipend Program, students can receive monthly stipends of up to $500 via a debit card to go towards their “soft costs” such as rent, food, clothing, etc. If selected as a recipient for the Tuition Scholarship, awardees can receive up to $6000 for tuition assistance. Through volunteering we’ve created a network of individuals that can serve as a second family, mentors, and friends to these North Korean refugees as they enter a new country alone, often having been forced to leave their families behind. At Bao Sei, our goal is to provide these North Korean refugees with the tools necessary to succeed in the United States.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
After visiting Seoul for the first time, I realized that the influence of my Korean heritage on my identity was especially strong. I returned home with a burgeoning interest in the Korean peninsula and the intriguing place of my paternal grandfather, my Halabeoji’s, birth — North Korea. Learning about his struggles opened my eyes to the difficult journey he suffered through; throughout his childhood he and his family were constantly striving to attain basic necessities that I had always taken for granted. My Halabeoji’s story made me realize that there were still others like him, many of whom were enduring the same difficulties. My connection to this issue inspired me to do something about it, specifically by raising money to help North Korean refugees assimilate and take advantage of the educational opportunities available in America in order to find success and fulfillment here.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
Upon arrival to the United States most North Koreans are alone, without family, friends, or frankly anyone to rely on. North Korean refugees also arrive to the United States, with very little knowledge about the American culture or lifestyle, and with no one to rely on they are left alone and confused. North Korean refugees have endured the worst and survived, and thus deserve the ability to access the lives that they deserve through access to education and an encouraging support system.
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
When an individual becomes involved with Bao Sei, they become a member of our organization’s family. As an organization we will do everything to guarantee the individual’s success in the United States. We will provide them financial support so they are able to pursue the opportunities offered to them in the United States to the fullest as well as match them with a volunteer at the organization to reach out to with any questions about assimilation or general concerns, essentially becoming a surrogate family to the individual.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Unlike other North Korean refugee focused organizations, Bao Sei offers financial assistance that extends both to and beyond academic costs. Although most North Korean refugee students receive some sort of tuition support from their institutions of enrollment, they are allotted no funds to go towards anything that extends beyond it. As these refugee students have limited resources, they end up having to scrimp on their other basic necessities like food, clothing, housing, etc. Bao Sei’s sponsors two scholarship programs that collectively provide a student with full coverage.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We held our launch event in May of this year and were able to raise an astounding $175,000. The months that followed after the fundraiser were then spent drafting and finalizing an application for our first scholarship program: The Student Assistance Stipend Fund Program. As outlined earlier, if selected as a recipient for The Student Assistance Fund Stipend Program, students can receive monthly stipends of up to $500 via a debit card to go towards their “soft costs” such as rent, food, clothing, etc. The SASFP application went live on our website on August 1 and will close on October 1. As we get closer to the deadline, the number of applicants we received has spiked. At the moment, we have received a total of 6 applicants. The reviewing process for the application will begin after the deadline, upon which the selected recipients will receive their stipends.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Our goal in the coming months is to review and select recipients for the Student Assistance Fund Stipend Program, work on publishing the application for our Tuition Scholarship, and to continue to spread the word about our foundation to the community of North Korean refugees and North Korea focused non-profits here in the United States. I have been fortunate to develop relationships with Emancipate North Koreans’ (ENoK) Empower House Program as well as Liberty in North Korea, and would like to be able to develop even more relationships to connect our foundation to everyone who could be in need of our services.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
Donations between $1k-$5k
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