Bo Thao-Urabe, Senior Director of Capacity Building and Organizational Learning
(Header photo: Photo from AAPIP-MN Chapter Luncheon; Body photo: MayKao Hang, President and CEO of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation)
Since AAPIP first reported the numbers on organized philanthropy’s investment to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, the needle has not moved much. In our 1992 publication, Invisible and In Need, that amount was 0.2%. Today, that number is still dismal. In Minnesota it hovers around 0.5%.
In spite of stagnant investment levels, MayKao Hang is optimistic and focused on strategies for improvement. Hang states, “Philanthropic leaders have the challenge and opportunity to achieve greater good through the inclusion of our diverse communities and to be responsive to those who need us to look at the future. That future includes Asian Americans.”
As one step to promoting strategies for inclusion, AAPIP hosted a conversation with Minnesota foundation CEOs and Trustees in July and a follow up AAPIP-MN chapter luncheon. At both sessions, the participants delved into the latest community and philanthropic giving data, and discussed the best way to move forward.
Participants were informed that AAPIs currently make up 5% of the population and are the fastest growing racial group in the state. The community is comparatively young; of the AAPIs in the state, over 50% are Southeast Asians whose average age is 20.
A report produced by National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education earlier this year also found that Southeast Asians have a much greater likelihood of dropping out of high school than their East Asian counterparts.
ThaoMee Xiong, Minnesota chapter Co-Chair and Policy Director at the Minnesota Housing Partnership states, “The disparities and inequities faced by AAPIs have serious implications for Minnesota’s workforce, economy, and overall competitiveness. The chapter hopes to energize both community and philanthropic leaders to in order to build a vibrant Minnesota that includes all people.”
Some foundations are already taking action and have adopted equity and inclusion strategies. These strategies range from increasing internal cultural competence to creating tracking tools, such as dashboards, to better understand their investments to communities of color.
“It was encouraging to see many foundations represented at AAPIP’s recent conversations. It’s incumbent upon those of us who work in philanthropy to understand this data so that we can help our institutions be responsive to the needs and trends. The chapter members started a good conversation about how our institutions can more intentionally work with the AAPI community,” commented Margie Andreason, Minnesota chapter Co-Chair and Assistant to the President & Project Coordinator at Northwest Area Foundation.
With these conversations developing in Minnesota, we may be closer to moving the needle for greater philanthropic investments in one region at a time.