Demonstrators gather for the Rise Up With Asians rally in San Francisco on March 31, 2021, days after a mass shooting in Atlanta claimed the lives of eight people, six of them Asian American women. (Image credit: Jason Leung/Unsplash)
The start of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month brought with it new investments that are set to have a major impact on Asian American communities and causes.
In two recent examples, last week the newly formed Asian American Foundation committed $65 million over five years to back nonprofits that are creating positive change in AAPI communities. A week earlier, U.S. lawmakers, educators and community organizers launched the Vincent Chin Institute to advance the movement against anti-Asian hate, adding to a number of other commitments from philanthropists, corporations and community groups.
Let's take a closer look at these two major commitments, the impact they can have on Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and their communities, and how more companies can get involved.
The Asian American Foundation launched in 2021 in response to the uptick in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to address historic under-investment in AAPI communities.
Less than 0.20 percent of giving from foundations and less than 1 percent of corporate giving goes to organizations serving AAPI communities, according to the Foundation. In response, it launched the multi-year Giving Challenge campaign to bring partners together to donate directly to the community. In 2021, the campaign rallied more than 130 partners — including 70 companies and 13 foundations — to commit $1.1 billion in capital and in-kind donations.
Of that total, $730 million was already provided to the Foundation as of 2022, and last week it announced plans for how it will disburse the money. In its new Portfolio Strategy, the Foundation emphasizes a community-based approach that looks to provide capital and assistance to locally-led nonprofits that directly serve AAPI communities. It will disburse an initial $65 million in grants to these nonprofits over the next five years, with a focus on education, community development, anti-hate campaigns, and building representation to drive a new narrative about AAPI communities in the media.
Beyond existing corporate partners — which range from Capital One and Accenture to Etsy, JCPenney and Levi-Strauss — the Foundation is inviting new partners to co-invest in the nonprofits it identifies and maximize impact in the communities they serve. Click here to get involved.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have increased sharply in recent years, as AAPI communities were unfairly scapegoated in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic — setting off a wave of harmful rhetoric from some politicians and media.
Anti-Asian hate incidents increased by 77 percent between 2019 and 2020 and by 339 percent between 2020 and 2021. While law enforcement recorded fewer of these incidents last year, the rate is still "disturbingly elevated" compared to pre-pandemic levels, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, told Voice of America.
These statistics send chilling effects through Asian American communities, as people fear they or a loved one will be next. More than 70 percent of Asian Americans worry about hate-based threats or violence at least sometimes, according to 2022 polling from the Pew Research Center. Of those, about a third said they changed their daily behaviors as a result of these concerns.
The newly launched Vincent Chin Institute aims to galvanize organizers in the movement against anti-Asian hate. The organization is named for a 28-year-old Chinese-American man who was murdered in a hate crime in 1982, amidst another wave of anti-Asian (and specifically anti-Japanese) sentiment in the U.S. — meant as a stark reminder of the dangerous effects of racist rhetoric.
The new organization centers on bringing activists and educators together to drive new narratives around AAPI communities, elevate the public's understanding of historic discrimination against AAPI people, and establish new networks of local organizations working toward these goals. AAPI congressional leaders — including Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) — are involved in the effort, along with activists and educators from across the country.
Among its first actions, the institute launched the second edition of the Vincent Chin Legacy Guide, a free resource outlining the dark history of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. for use primarily by K-12 educators, the AAPI-focused outlet AsAmNews reported. Such resources are vital as increasingly competitive posturing around China circles through political circles and leaches out into the public discourse. When countering such narratives in the halls of Congress, Chu often brings up Chin's story.
“Each time we take on this fight … I talk about what happened to Vincent Chin. Some members of Congress are shocked because they never even heard of [Chin’s] story,” Chu told AsAmNews. “Which is why we need the Vincent Chin Institute and why we need the second edition of The Vincent Chin legacy guide. It will be phenomenal in helping all communities learn about Vincent’s story and the consequences of xenophobic rhetoric.”
Founding corporate partners including Mastercard and JPMorgan Chase helped to launched the Institute, and continued support will be needed to power its work — leaving ample opportunity for more businesses to get involved. Scroll down to the bottom here to learn how to take part.
Mary Mazzoni has reported on sustainability in business for over a decade and now serves as managing editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of brands and organizations on sustainability storytelling. Along with 3p, Mary's recent work can be found in publications like Conscious Company, Salon and Vice's Motherboard. She also works with nonprofits on media projects, including the women's entrepreneurship coaching organization Street Business School. She is an alumna of Temple University in Philadelphia and lives in the city with her partner and two spoiled dogs.