AAPIP Voices

Dallas is More Than Cowboy Hats


by Caren K. Lock

AAPIP believes that philanthropy has a responsibility and role in fostering a thriving civil society by meeting urgent needs and investing in our collective future. As part of a rapidly changing philanthropic landscape, philanthropists of giving circles are contributing to the increasing and enduring investment in AAPI communities and issues. Caren K. Lock of the Orchid Giving Circle in Dallas, TX, shares her story.

Dallas is more than cowboy hats, football, or BBQ.  Dallas is an incredibly generous community.  The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranks Dallas the eighth-most generous city in the country.  Indeed, you can feel the compassion and commitment regardless of whether you attend big elaborate galas to intimate individual fundraisers at somebody’s home.  This is what led us to start the Orchid Giving Circle Fund at Dallas Women’s Foundation in 2015.  I kept bumping into the same group of Asian women at different philanthropic events around town.  It didn’t take long before we went out for dim sum to find a way to harness and focus our giving to benefit our own community.  My Orchid Sisters are a group of Asian women philanthropists in North Texas ranging in age from 20s to 70s, and represents a wide range of cultures, ethnicities and professions.  We provide community grants that support social change and services for North Texas Asians. Specifically, we have an interest in Asian woman-led social change projects and organizations.

We granted out $76,500 to four nonprofits in our inaugural year. This year, we granted out $75,000 to five nonprofits.  It is quite an accomplishment for our 23 members and a legion of loyal donors and supporters. We did not want to grant exclusively to established nonprofits.  We actually want to serve as “angel funders” for small nonprofits or art projects that wouldn’t normally receive funding. This was an area we felt was underserved in North Texas.  Our grantees have ranged from an individual filmmaker creating a movie on domestic violence in the Asian community, breast cancer treatment for Asian women, young women’s leadership development to refugee translation services. We were looking for sustainable long term impact to affect positive change in our own backyard.

Charity is defined as the voluntary giving of help and that help can come in many forms. As an immigrant, I was the beneficiary of the kindness and generosity of others. We had very little growing up but my parents always shared food with our senior neighbors living by themselves. Watching my parents reach out to others who are less fortunate gave me a roadmap for how charitable I should be as an adult. My mother has even gotten involved in the Orchid Giving Circle.  You can say we have come full circle!

Caren K. Lock is a founding member of the Orchid Giving Circle and she serves as the Regional Vice President and Associate General Counsel of TIAA, a full-service financial services company