Brothers Richard and Eric Dong were raised to understand and navigate the complex world of investments and the financial market.
Now, as San Marino High School students, the pair are investing their resources back into their school. Last Friday, they officially signed a $75,000 endowment fund for SMHS as a show of gratitude for their high school experience. The fund also is named in honor of outgoing Principal Mary Johnson for her impact in both boys’ lives.
“It is our great honor to establish this endowment fund at our school to show our support, respect, gratitude and friendship to the amazing community,” Richard Dong said, speaking to SMHS, city and San Marino Schools Foundation officials. “The endowment is in honor of Mrs. Johnson in appreciation for her leadership, dedication and commitment over the past 13 years as principal and vice principal.”
Returns from the endowment fund will be slated to help fill in SMHS’ funding gaps in four areas: arts and music, athletics, student clubs, and faculty and staff appreciation. The brothers started their investments in 2010 and have already donated money for an endowment at Clairbourn School three years ago.
“Eric and I are very proud that our investment earnings over the years since 2010 are put in use for this endowment fund, for which we have to thank our parents for teaching us the essentials of investing in the competitive financial market,” Richard Dong said in his speech.
The boys’ father, Edward Dong, has numerous connections to the financial market and also is a member of the Dean’s Council and Alumni Ambassador for Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Management at State University of New York at Buffalo. It was with his influence that his sons began learning the ropes of investments.
“If I listen to them, I’ll make a few more million,” Edward Dong said before the speech.
Chris Kealey, executive director of SMSF, said the brothers approached him about the endowment in January.
“When we first heard this, we thought they were alumni,” Kealey said. “When we heard the two boys were current students, we were in awe. A lot of times, philanthropy happens at our age. We’re talking about two kids who are teenagers who have grasped that idea.”
Richard Dong, 16, enjoys cars and, when he started investing in 2010, there was a pretty clear choice on car companies to invest in.
“I decided to buy into Ford,” he said, noting he bought 100,000 shares in the company.
Eric Dong, 14, said he chose Bank of America as his first and main investment, “because it has my name in it,” he said matter-of-factly.
The two said they plan on adding to the endowment in the future. As they proceed through high school, they also have hopes for college, although neither is necessarily interested in the financial market. Richard Dong said he eyes a political science future, and Eric Dong said he may gravitate to an engineering education.
Either way, it seems as though they may have a good fallback option.
“Nelson Mandela once said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world,’” Richard Dong said. “We believe that this is just the beginning of a long journey. With teamwork, we hope more students, alumni, parents and the whole community will support education so that students can better serve our great country in the future.”