I recently returned from my first Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) Annual Membership Meeting inspired and informed. It felt fitting that it was held in New York City, the melting pot and historic landmark entry point for so many immigrants in the United States. What an exemplary backdrop to remind and reinforce our conversations on furthering inclusiveness. The momentum coming out of the meeting has remained on the top of my mind since May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
This trip affirmed how critical dialogue and partnership in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is, particularly since the term AAPI encompasses so many distinctive sub-ethnic groups which add such richness and diversity, yet also create complexities in addressing challenges, providing deeper engagement and elevating the voice and needs of the broader community.
A key takeaway from the Annual Meeting was the need for more detailed data dissemination to help increase awareness of, as well as contextualize and highlight the disparities within, the AAPI community. AAPIP spotlighted important data in the past, including the fact that organized philanthropy’s funding towards API’s has failed to reach even 1% of overall foundation funding in both national and key local regions, and thus recommended the collection of uniform and disaggregated data. AAPIP’s Peggy Saika recently presented some valuable data at a funder’s briefing in Seattle, based on a report she contributed to, which highlights the disparities in the AAPI community and urges for data quality standardization.
Building on this theme, Kiran Ahuja, a panelist at the AAPIP Annual Meeting, mentioned AAPI-specific data sources to explore in greater detail, such as key facts from the White House Initiative of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and some improved data series on AAPI communities available through www.data.gov.
Overall, the conversations reflected what an opportune time it is to be discussing these issues, with increased information and attention being given to diversity and equity issues in the workplace as well as in larger society. The Annual Meeting was a crucial time where co-chairs were given the opportunity to connect the dots across all the chapters to further strengthen the AAPIP internal identity and leverage our collective work and best practices to strategically think through how to execute our plan in the year ahead. I look forward to contributing towards this collective cause, and continuing to build on the energy from this meeting to further the chapter mission and goals.
Anjana Sundaram is a co-chair of the Seattle Puget Sound Chapter of the Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), along with Elisa Del Rosario and Shiho Fuyuki. She is a research analyst at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she is actively involved with Gates Asians in Philanthropy (GAP). Views are her own.