AAPIP Voices

Red Envelope Giving Circle: What Keeps Us Inspired?


By Crystal Jang, REGC Founder

A group of San Francisco/Bay Area activists formed the Red Envelope Giving Circle (REGC) after being inspired by Alice Y. Hom, who directed AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund. Alice gave a presentation about the lack of foundation funding for Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) LGBTQ communities and issues which spurred us into action. We had the shared desire to give back to the AAPI LGBTQ community and with the support of the Horizons Foundation and AAPIP, REGC’s intergenerational community of “givers” (the youngest being 7 years and oldest almost 80) has granted over $42,500 to 22 individual and group projects, completing REGC’s 4th year of “Giving Back” to the AAPI-LGBTQ community.

At our most recent REGC meeting, I posed several questions to members, and am sharing some of their comments.

What inspired you to be a part of REGC?

  • To create a legacy of giving” [because of the] “lack of funding for API-Queer projects
  • To give back to the community
  • To help our community to share our stories
  • Developing friendships and deeper connection to the community
  • Diversity of grantees and funding of cutting edge projects

What is your favorite REGC experience?

  • Good food, fun meetings and continued philanthropy.
  • Hearing the Grantee stories at the [grantee] presentation event.
  • Sharing friendship, good food and humor during meetings.
  • Working together with a great group of people.
  • ’MC-ing’ the Grantee Presentation Event.
  • Catching the enthusiasm of donors and grantees alike!

Trinity Ordona, a founding member, noted that “REGC giving is not just grassroots, on-the-ground philanthropy; rather, we are a part of the very ground itself, building a supportive foundation for grantees to do their work…sort of like “start up” funding since so many of our grantees have no other access to traditional funding.” Alma Beck, one of our newer circle members reflected, “REGC could be at the forefront of building an API-Queer ‘Giving Movement,’ something bigger than ourselves.”  

At our annual grantee presentation event held on January 31st, we were reminded by the grantee stories that extraordinary efforts are being made by community members to create positive change through arts and culture projects and by bringing people together in safer spaces. Many of the grantee partners expressed gratitude for the funding because their projects don’t get typically get funded through mainstream institutions.  By being educated and made aware of each other’s projects, our community builds and strengthens our links to one another. It was exciting to see collaborations being organically formed. Our grantee projects and stories continue to be our greatest inspiration. One of our proposal readers shared, “As a cisgender person, it’s important to support projects that prioritize the needs of trans and gender nonconforming people, who are among the most vulnerable members of our communities. I was particularly inspired by the proposal for the first API Transmasculine Retreat, which will provide a radically empowering space for API trans men and gender nonconforming people. We need to have more opportunities like this retreat for folks to connect and collectively create healing spaces when forces within the broader society would otherwise render us silent, invisible or dead.”     

Here are our grantees for 2016:

  • API Queer Justice Leadership Exchange (accepted by Sammie Wills)
  • Adrift in Sunset (Narissa Lee/Kar Yin Tham)
  • He(ART) Beat Movement (Lai Wa Wu/RayRay Ebora)
  • The 1st API Transmasculine Retreat (Min Matson)
  • Sarimanok: Creative Embodiment (Rani Lacsa Marcos)
  • Growing Our R.O.O.T.S. (Harrison Seuga)

Last, but not least, I asked for words of wisdom from REGC members for other Giving Circles:

  • Remember your goals so that you can sustain through the ups and downs of organizing.
  • Have Passion, Persistence and Patience…to keep it going.
  • Have good food at meetings and lots of it!!!
  • Keep it simple, Keep it flexible…and KEEP IT FUN!

At the Red Envelope Giving Circle, we’re doing just that!