WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 28, 2013) — The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) — the leading AAPI student- and research-focused organizations, respectively — on Thursday kicked off a national public awareness effort.
The new student-centered and -led campaign, “We’re the Changing Face of America,” is dedicated to increasing access and completion among Asian American and Pacific Islander students, the fastest-growing, but often the most overlooked and underserved student population at U.S. colleges and universities.
The program is a multi-layered, grassroots effort working through strategic partnerships with three of the nation’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions: De Anza College, City College of San Francisco, and South Seattle Community College. In addition to the campaign’s AANAPISI partners, other supporters at business, civil rights, community-based, and student- and youth-advocacy organizations are playing an important role in sharing information and messages.
“As APIASF looks to strengthen communities across the country and in the Pacific Islands, this campaign provides a critical opportunity to help increase student success, support institutional capacity at the colleges and universities that are serving the highest concentrations of AAPIs, and mobilize the public to change the national education dialogue to be more inclusive,” said APIASF President & Executive Director Neil Horikoshi. “The success of AAPI students is essential to reaching America’s goals of developing a pipeline of skilled workers to support our national economy, which makes us all invested in this campaign.”
According to the 2010 U.S. Census data, the AAPI population is projected to reach nearly 40 million people by 2050. Data also show AAPI students will experience a 35 percent increase in college enrollment over the next decade. Unfortunately, college completion remains elusive for many young AAPI students because unique challenges hinder them from gaining access to higher education and/or earning a college degree. For example, nearly 65 percent of adults 25 or older, in some AAPI subgroups, will never attend college.
“This campaign aims to encourage higher education practitioners and policymakers to be more mindful of and responsive to a rapidly changing demographic landscape,” said CARE Principal Investigator Robert Teranishi. “More specifically, we want to raise awareness about the extent to which the AAPI community exemplifies the ‘changing face of America.'”
In addition, further engagement and outreach will be made via the campaign’s newly-launched website, www.changingfaceofamerica.com. The site serves as an online community for campaign partners by providing fact sheets, template outreach materials, and various tools and resources. Most importantly, the site features AAPI student stories and voices directed at campus administrators, higher education leaders, and policymakers who are encouraged to take the following immediate actions:
• Invest more in colleges and universities that serve AAPI students. AANAPISIs enroll and confer degrees to a large concentration of the nation’s AAPI undergraduate students. It is essential to build capacity to better understand and respond to these institutions’ unique needs.
• Increase federal and state financial resources for widespread AAPI student access and success. America’s colleges and universities must prepare adequately for the large and growing 1.3 million AAPI student population, particularly because these students often have the lowest educational attainment rates and some of the highest poverty rates in the country.
• Give more attention to understanding AAPI students. Policymakers and higher education leaders should expand their knowledge about and be more responsive to the AAPI community, rather than believe and act upon longstanding stereotypes and perceptions that hinder AAPI students from gaining access to higher education and/or earning a college degree.
The campaign supports the Partnership for Equity in Education through Research (PEER) project by APIASF and CARE, which launched in June 2012 to help improve educational outcomes for the AAPI student population. The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, USA Funds, and the Walmart Foundation each donated grants to the PEER project. Later this year, the PEER project will begin releasing a series of reports, through the We’re the Changing Face of America campaign, that shares new data from the institutional partners. These studies will shed light on the impact of promising practices and targeted interventions that promote access and success for low-income AAPI students.
Current community partners of the We’re the Changing Face of America campaign include:
• Asian American Justice Center
• Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
• Asian Pacific Islander American Association of Colleges and Universities
• Association of Asian American Studies
• American Indian Graduate Center
• California State University, Sacramento
• Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
• Coastline Community College
• The Dynasty Project
• The Gromet Foundation
• Guam Community College
• Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities
• Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP)
• National Pacific Islander Educator Network
• National Scholarship Providers Association
• Richland College
• Santa Monica College
• South Asian Americans Leading Together
• Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
• Thurgood Marshall College Fund
• University of Guam
• University of Hawai’i at Hilo
To learn how to become a campaign partner or for more information about the We’re the Changing Face of America campaign, visit www.changingfaceofamerica.com. Also, follow the campaign on Facebook (www.facebook.com/changingfaceofamerica) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/aapichange).