AAPIP Voices

Equality is not Equity


Nicole Kyauk, (CAP®), is a Philanthropic Advisor at the East Bay Community Foundation and Co-Chair of the San Francisco Bay Area AAPIP Chapter.

I had the privilege to represent the SF Bay Area Chapter at the Joint Affinity Group (JAG) Unity Summit in DC with colleagues from throughout the US. We spent a few days together with the goal of advancing equity and developing a new vision and plan for collaboration.

I arrived a few days earlier to explore our nation’s capitol.  It was powerful to stand at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, see the original Bill of Rights that guarantees our basic freedoms, and walk the halls of the White House to the East Room where President Obama announced his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which addresses opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color.

With these historic moments of equity in mind and renewed inspiration, I was excited to engage in new and continued conversations at the Unity Summit.  In more than 6 years at the East Bay Community Foundation, I’ve seen small wins that democratize philanthropy and bring resources to marginalized communities, but when we are tackling big issues around poverty, education, and equity, it can feel daunting. I was ready for new ideas, new energy, and new partnerships.  

What did I learn about how we can move forward to advance equity together?

Ask for and share data. Latino youth are nearly twice as likely as white kids to be suspended from school. Black youth are nearly four times as likely. A student who has been suspended even once before 9th grade is twice as likely to drop out. Disaggregated data on API youth aren’t always available; what is available often perpetuates the model minority myth. We need data to tell our story, understand where the most urgent needs are, and where progress has been made.

Acknowledge that equality is not equity.  Equal access to resources is important, but children who are significantly behind academically need more resources to be successful. Equity ensures that those with different needs have resources to achieve the same outcome.

Build relationships and look for unlikely allies. Our local AAPIP chapter is always looking for new partners to advance equity together. Email me at with thoughts.

If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.

– African proverb