AAPIP Voices

APIs RISE for API LGBTQ Community


by Elaine Abelaye-Mateo and Vince Sales

APIs RISE officially launched its Giving Circle in November of 2014 with two goals in mind: 1. to increase Asian and Pacific Islander philanthropy in the Sacramento region by creating a space and a vehicle for APIs in the region to participate in what they called community philanthropy; and, 2. to increase the education and awareness among the API community and beyond about API issues that were not receiving the attention and resources they required to make positive change.

In its first year, APIs RISE raised over $30,000 and its membership granted out $25,000 to Sacramento State’s Full Circle Project and KVIE’s Local API Hero Awards Spotlight Project.  APIs RISE also has hosted community discussions on leadership pipelines and the API LGBTQ community as part of its intent to increase education and awareness.  Notably, AAPIP’s 2014 National Giving Convening where Alice Y. Hom of the Queer Justice Fund shared compelling philanthropic data and API LGBTQ-serving organizations participated as panelists highlighting their successes and unique API LGBTQ challenges in attaining resources inspired the API LGBTQ community building effort. APIs RISE representatives returned from the National Convening with the intent to raise awareness about the API LGBTQ community.

This year, APIs RISE worked closely with AAPIP to discuss the best approach to introducing issues relevant to API LGBTQ people.  While APIs RISE knew that they wanted to host a similar panel to what was presented at the Giving Circle Convening for its membership, members also knew that creating buy-in among stakeholders was a key first step.  The group decided to convene a social gathering to build an API LGBTQ community, hear input from different voices, and understand the community.  Consequently, APIs RISE hosted the API LGBTQ Sushi Summit and gathered members, APIs RISE friends, and APIQs in the summer to discuss their interest in building community and began to learn about the unique challenges faced by the API LGBTQ community. 

Cat Nou attended the Sushi Summit and shared, “the APIs RISE Sushi Summit was such a great space to chat with APIQs and allies.  There are no other spaces for groups to come together in this way and I’m excited to stay involved in future conversations.” 

Following the Sushi Summit, APIs RISE set a date for an API LGBTQ Panel and Luncheon on Oct. 15.  Hosted by APIs RISE, with space donated by The California Endowment and catering provided by My Sister’s Café (a social enterprise of a local API Domestic Violence nonprofit), the panel set out to continue the conversation about API LGBTQ community. 

Over 50 community members attended, including APIs RISE members, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and students from the Full Circle Project (one of APIs RISE grantees).  APIs RISE convened an esteemed panel representing a variety of perspectives.  Marsha Aizumi, mother of a transgender API, national PFLAG Board Member, author and nationally-renowned advocate spoke eloquently and very honestly about her journey as a family member. Richard Carrillo, an API Queer Sacramentan, shared his personal coming out story and the trials, and also triumphs of being a mixed-race API and Queer.  Huong Nguyen-Yap, AAPIP Staff Member, helped frame the need for increased philanthropy in the API LGBTQ movement and gave examples of projects funded by AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund.  Vince A. Sales, Vice President for University Advancement with Sacramento State, served as the moderator and helped to weave each panelist’s story by asking thought-provoking questions and engaging the audience in a question and answer period.  The outcome of the panel was to raise awareness about API LGBTQ people and issues and to think critically about philanthropy’s role in meeting their unmet needs.

Vince A. Sales reflected on the panel by sharing, “Today’s panel brought to life an issue and a community that has been largely invisible in Sacramento.  APIs RISE hopes to play a role in lifting up API causes and issues and inspiring community philanthropy to bring about positive change.”

And clearly, APIs RISE is just getting started.  The Giving Circle intends to host the next round of grant making by seeking out project ideas early 2016.  Members are also exploring a future API LGBTQ dialogue and panel at the Capitol Building to raise the issue and share information with policy-makers and elected officials. 

“AAPIP is excited about the movement building work happening in Sacramento.  APIs RISE has fully embraced our framework of community philanthropy.  APIs RISE API LGBTQ Panel and Luncheon is just one very clear example of ways that giving circles are making immediate impact in our communities and we look forward to our continued partnership with APIs RISE.”  Huong Nguyen Yap, Community Philanthropy Manager

Elaine Abelaye-Mateo is the Principal for Everyday Impact Consulting, whose mission is to build meaningful relationships to create social good.  Ms. Abelaye-Mateo has spent over a decade in service to the Asian and Pacific Islander communities, formerly as the Executive Director for Asian Resources, Inc. and a Board Member for the Philippine National Day Association.  She currently serves as a Founding Member and Co-Chair of the APIs RISE Giving Circle.

Vince is vice president for University Advancement at California State University, Sacramento. In this capacity, he oversees the fund development, advancement communications and stewardship, and alumni relations programs. Concurrently, he is also executive officer providing strategic and operational oversight for The University Foundation at Sacramento State, the primary philanthropic auxiliary of the university. He serves as treasurer of the national organization Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education and sits on the board of directors of the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce. Vince is a founding member of APIs RISE.