AAPIP Voices

The AAPIP Giving Circle Campaign: On the Road with Noelle Ito

11 giving circles, 7 cities, 1 month and lots of meetings later, I feel fully immersed in AAPIP’s National Giving Circle network.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all but two of our giving circles and have learned of their strategies, struggles and aspirations.

I started my tour in the Bay Area and on my third day attended the Devata Giving Circle’s Inaugural Celebration.  The stories of each of the Cambodian women that make up the circle brought the whole room to tears.  They were stories of refugee families, identity, and empowerment through giving back to their community.

In the Bay Area I also met with the Muslim Women’s Giving Circle, the Lunar Giving Circle and the South Asian Giving Circle.  Although each with a different mission, style and focus population, the leadership of each circle inspired me and I could see what the future holds as multiple circles emerge in each city.

In Los Angeles I learned about the Circle of Change’s use of video to share information on local organizations to their membership.  I also attended the LA AAPI Giving Circle’s celebration event where I met youth that had participated in the Summer Activist Training and witnessed new members joining the giving circle movement.

After covering all of California, it was off to Chicago where Peggy Saika, Jai Lee Wong and I attended the Asian Giving Circle event at the PepsiCo Sustainability Center where grants were given out to four outstanding organizations one of which was receiving their first grant ever!

As we made our way to the east coast, we got to know Amtrak well as Jai and I stopped in NYC, DC, Philly and Boston.  In DC, we attended the Cherry Blossom Giving Circle’s learning and networking event where community organizations discussed the state of the local AAPI community.  Over breakfast with the Asian Mosaic Fund in Philadelphia, we learned of an emerging Latino Giving Circle that they have taken under their wing by lending technical assistance.  And in Boston we met with both the Jasmine (one of our newer circles) and Saffron (one of the oldest) Giving Circles and learned how they are working together.

Along the way I was very fortunate to also meet with a few of AAPIP’s close friends from the last 20 years including Jessica Chao, Kathy Im, June Jee, Lisa Philp, and Ruby Takanishi, as well as, a few of the hosts of the giving circles including the Liberty Hill Foundation and Asian Pacific Community Fund.