WASHINGTON (April 10, 2012) — The nation’s top foundations on April 2, pledged an initial $1 million as the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders convened its first National Philanthropic Briefing to draw attention to this fastest growing racial group in the country.
The event comes as newly released figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that the Asian American population experienced a 43 percent increase and that of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders experienced a 30 percent increase from 2000 to 2010.
Co-chair of the White House Initiative on AAPIs and Assistant to the President Chris Lu addressed the over 200 participants, including philanthropic leaders from more than 50 foundations.
“This effort is historic in that it is the first time the White House is bringing together foundation leaders, federal officials and community experts to discuss the needs of this often-overlooked group,” said Lu. “We must work together to make sure that no community is invisible to its government.”
Embracing the collaborative spirit, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation together committed $1 million “to support follow up program planning for some of the outstanding ideas that emerged from the White House event that will improve the quality of life of AAPI communities,” said Ford Foundation President, Luis Ubiñas.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary and Co-chair of the White House Initiative on AAPIsArne Duncan spoke about models of partnerships between foundations and federal agencies. “You and your organizations can help make the smart, strategic investments that will drive the transformational change we are talking about today.”
Participants learned about the White House Initiative’s unprecedented engagement with over 25,000 AAPI community members across the country. They brainstormed with Administration officials and foundation leaders on ideas for partnerships – from building community capacity to improving language access, to tackling significant disparities among Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian Americans, to combating discrimination and bullying and harassment of South Asian and Muslim communities.
Moving forward, as W.K. Kellogg Foundation Vice President – Program Strategy Dr. Gail Christopher underscored “will require both philanthropic and governmental organizations to evaluate their strategic plans to ensure that the critical needs of these marginalized communities are addressed.”
Reflecting on this important effort, Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson observed that this “momentous conversation between federal and philanthropic leaders addressing the critical needs of the AAPI community marks the beginning of what we hope is a long and productive partnership.”
President Obama signed an executive order in October 2009 reestablishing the White House Initiative to improve the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders underserved by federal resources. http://www.whitehouse.gov/aapi