It’s a number as relevant and haunting today as it was when we shared it’s meaning to the Asian American/Pacific Islander community in 2007. 0.4% is the percentage of foundation funding to the AAPI community from 1990 to 2002 – thirteen years. What was that figure for the period from 1984 to 1990? 0.2%. Progress, it seems, comes slowly.
Lack of support from organized philanthropy – and from public resources – is a long-standing and sadly durable condition for AAPI communities. It’s one of our community’s enduring challenges.
Obviously, it’s not the only one. It’s a symptom of a democracy that struggles to understand the depth and complexity of the AAPI community in the U.S., and that retreats to broad, sweeping stereotypes of Asian Americans. And philanthropy has had a role in sustaining this misperception. A recent 2012 report by the Pew Research Center focused, yet again, on the community’s growth coupled with long-standing stereotypes about achievement among some Asian Americans.
For AAPIP these enduring challenges are really opportunities. They’re opportunities to support giving voice to the full stretch of complexity that the Asian American/Pacific Islander community represents. They are an opportunity to build the capacity of our communities. And they are an opportunity to make visible that which organized philanthropy – and society, at large – has tried with intention or in effect to render invisible.
Building Democratic Philanthropy is AAPIP’s answer to society’s enduring challenges. And there is no better expression of what we mean by this than our programs, including the National Gender and Equity Campaign, the Civic Engagement Fund for Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) Communities, the Queer Justice Fund, the Giving Circle Campaign and 1st STEP (Strategies To Equitable Philanthropy).
What do all of these programs have in common? They all share in the conviction that our community thrives and benefits by leveraging individual action for collective good. We are not just the sum of our many parts; we are greater.