Press Release: A Rising Political Force


Mobilizing Bay Area Asian Americans: A Rising Political Force

SAN FRANCISCO (May 24, 2017) — Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) are the fastest growing racial group in America yet have the least political representation and engagement. Asian Pacific Fund, a community foundation, recently funded 14 Bay Area nonprofits to take on new projects to empower those they serve to exercise their political power as active, civically engaged members of our community.

The 14 community organizations are part of the Fund’s 2017-18 Capacity-Building and Civic Engagement Initiative. In response to a convening the Fund held in February on “Surviving and Thriving in Our Post-Election World” that was hosted in partnership with the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs, the grantees engaged in dialogue about how to join forces to leverage their grant dollars to increase civic engagement in the Bay Area’s diverse Asian and Pacific Islander community. The goal is to achieve greater collective impact than might be achieved individually. Some of the actions grantees hope to take include:

  • Collaborating to teach civic engagement to immigrant families by providing workshop trainings on various topics including “Know your Rights,” API civil rights history and immigrant family emergency planning;
  • Expansion of existing citizenship classes, voter education and voter registration efforts;
  • Building leadership skills and workshops on how to advocate for increased funding for the API community;
  • Using social media and featuring films accompanied by panel discussions to encourage dialogue on various subjects about the API community; and
  • Planning and implementation of a multi-ethnic event that encourages racial dialogue, cultural awareness and civic engagement.

“While we are the fastest growing racial group, we know that to ensure our collective power, we need to engage our community at every level,” said Audrey Yamamoto, President & Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Fund. “Our hope is that our grants will enable our partners to step up their civic engagement efforts to generate meaningful and lasting impact.”

APIs are often represented as being socioeconomically successful and hard-working, feeding into the myth of the “model minority.” This myth masks the needs of the 50+ ethnic groups under the API umbrella, including high poverty rates, lack of access to English language services, and growing unemployment. These needs are further compounded by the recent finding of increased anti-Asian hate violence post-November election, which has crept up to levels not seen since the aftermath of 9/11.

About Asian Pacific Fund: The Asian Pacific Fund is a San Francisco-based community foundation dedicated to improving the lives of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the Bay Area. The Fund mobilizes philanthropic giving from donors, supports organizations that serve the most vulnerable and raises awareness about pressing community needs.


Pei-Un Yee