Five Vietnamese-Led Nonprofit Organizations and Three Prominent Entrepreneurs Join Forces in Project Carry Forward – Fundraiser for Vietnamese Children and Students Affected by COVID-19
November 24th, 2021
Prominent entrepreneurs and executives Kendrick Nguyen and Khanh Duy Nguyen, five nonprofit organizations led by Vietnamese - American entrepreneurs and leaders in the US and Vietnam, and investor Danny Duong announced a fundraising campaign - “Project Carry Forward” - to benefit Vietnamese children and students affected by COVID-19. These non-profits are: VietChallenge, STEAM for Vietnam, VietSeeds, Stay Strong Saigon, and VietBay, Inc. With a fundraising target of USD 300,000, the campaign will work with on-the-ground organizations in Vietnam to provide sorely needed financial, emotional, and educational support for three of Vietnam's most vulnerable populations: children orphaned during COVID-19; students who lack access to technologies for remote learning; and students who are unable to access higher education due to financial hardships created and exacerbated by COVID-19.
The fourth wave of COVID-19 hit Vietnam particularly hard. The impact on the country’s economy and businesses can be described as nothing short of catastrophic. Even more heartbreaking, the pandemic has devastated the lives of children and students. According to the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training, 1.5 million students have not had access to adequate equipment for remote learning during the pandemic. Even worse, over 1,500 children in Ho Chi Minh City alone have been orphaned by COVID-19; their lives have been uprooted into the homes of relatives or, in the saddest of circumstances, orphanages. Since the beginning of 2021, more than 14,000 students and teachers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, necessitating the need for financial and mental health support. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the country, these numbers are expected to rise.
But the situation is not hopeless. Project Carry Forward utilizes the expertise of its member nonprofit organizations along with their expansive network of Vietnamese students and young professionals. STEAM for Vietnam, for example, is operated by an extensive network of Vietnamese volunteers from around the world who share a vision to bring free, world-class education to all Vietnamese students. STEAM believes in the role of education in the sustainable development of a country. The non-profit has supported thousands of early-age students in just two years of operation, providing them with a high-quality education. What STEAM has been for early education, VietSeeds has been for higher education. For years, VietSeeds has been providing financial and mentorship opportunities to Vietnamese students interested in higher education. Meanwhile, VietBay is a non-profit founded by Vietnamese professionals in the Bay Area in the early 2000s. In addition to hosting activities to foster the cultural bond of the Vietnamese community in North California, VietBay has raised millions to assist socio-economically disadvantaged Vietnamese in the face of the pandemic and other emergencies.
As someone who cares about the children and students in Vietnam, Hung Tran, founder of STEAM for Vietnam and CEO at GotIT AI, was devastated to hear the news about the widespread effect of the pandemic. So too was Thuc Vu, CEO of OhmniLabs and Founder of both the VietSeeds Foundation and the Stay Strong Saigon campaign. When these leaders received a phone call from Mai Zymaris, Founder and President of VietChallenge, the three jumped onto a Zoom call-after which more calls were made to reach out to their various networks to encourage giving. Tran, Vu, and Zymaris recognized the positive impact possible in an alignment among their organizations.
“It has been heartbreaking to be in the US, not able to go home, and watch the news of how the pandemic is affecting people,” says Zymaris. “A few of us just knew that we had to do something, and we are calling on everyone who can to help.” Moved to the US almost a decade ago but Zymaris remains deeply connected to her home country. Her success as a technology transactions attorney allows her to help Vietnam whenever she sees the need arise.
Among those who answered the call have been Republic Co-Founder Kendrick Nguyen, SSI Board Member and CEO of NDH Invest Khanh Duy Nguyen, and Investor Danny Duong.
Kendrick Nguyen, whose family relocated from Vietnam to the United States, is a phenomenon in the world of business. In the past five years, he has created a billion-dollar business, Republic.
Khanh Duy Nguyen also has an impressive journey as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. After graduating from George Washington University in 2013, Khanh joined SSI Securities Incorporation, one of the largest financial investment service providers in Vietnam, at the age of 24 and became the youngest Board Member in the company’s history. Since then, he has always taken an active role in every SSI philanthropic effort, which prioritizes improving Vietnam’s economics, education systems, and sustainable development.
The youngest member of the fundraiser leadership team, Danny Duong, grew up in one of the most prominent Vietnamese American business families. Currently, he is carrying on the family business; he is carving out an impressive name for himself.
In addition to their incredible business acumen, Danny Duong, Kendrick Nguyen, and Khanh Nguyen share a generosity of spirit and a personal philosophy that one needs to support the community from which they came.
The campaign has set a fundraising goal of USD 300,000 by February 15, 2022. This money will be distributed in the form of scholarships, financial assistance packages, and Chromebook devices to help rebuild the lives of affected youths and students. The campaign accepts checks, direct giving, or donations through a GoFundMe campaign and Paypal donate.