AAPIP Voices

Serving the AAPI community in the Greater Boston region


by Sara Tian

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. Sara Tian, co-chair of Saffron Circle’s grantmaking committee, shares her story.

Saffron Circle has funded non-profit organizations that create positive social change in the Massachusetts AAPI community since 2006. In our 10th year of grantmaking, Saffron Circle received nineteen applications from local non-profits focused around its four funding areas of health, youth, workforce development, and civic engagement. These proposals detailed innovative and tailored plans to tackle mental health issues, preserve cultural arts, mentor youth, and promote Asian American voter registration, among many other initiatives. Fundamentally, these proposals capture a snapshot of the changing landscape and current needs of AAPI communities across the Greater Boston area, and highlight a continual gap in funding for organizations that serve them.

At the end of the review process, Saffron Circle granted a total of $34,000 to the following four non-profit organizations.

Asian Community Development Corporation, based in Chinatown, received funding for its Malden Housing Counseling and Civic Engagement program to develop affordable housing and complementary services for the growing Asian American population in Malden, a population which currently comprises 23% of the city’s 60,000 residents, and has increased by 70% since 2000.

Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program received a Saffron Circle grant for music education for elementary and middle school students at Josiah Quincy Elementary School and Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown. The initiative was inspired by El Sistema, the Venezuelan initiative that nurtures social development, musical excellence, and leadership training among underprivileged youth.

Southeast Coalition of Central Massachusetts in Worcester was granted funding for its Immigrant Small Business/Entrepreneur Support workforce development program. This vital venture assists English Language Learner immigrant clients with further developing their sewing skills, creating business plans, and connecting with mentors.

Lastly, Saffron Circle granted funding to Vietnamese Asian Civic Association for its Civic Assistance and Engagement Project in Dorchester, which provides the Vietnamese community assistance and workshops on voting, selective service, and citizenship application, a crucial endeavor that helps make more minority voices heard.

Saffron Circle is proud to have celebrated its tenth year of giving by contributing to the important work of the organizations described above. Beyond its numerical impact, Saffron Circle presents a unique opportunity for individual members across generations, ethnicities, and professional sectors to connect, learn, and transform our community through the grantmaking process. As a member of Saffron Circle and co-chair of the grantmaking committee, I feel both humbled and empowered to participate in this capacity. Now we turn to the future, to the next year, to the next ten, and beyond, as we look to continue supporting community-based organizations that serve the AAPI community in the Greater Boston region.

Sara Tian is an occupational therapist at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and a recent graduate of Tufts Boston School of Occupational Therapy. As a Boston College and Tufts alum (go Eagles and Jumbos!), Sara is committed to active citizenship through her ongoing involvement with Saffron Circle, a multi-generational and multi-ethnic Asian giving circle located in Greater Boston.