White House Initiative on AAPI Hosts Briefing on Philanthropy

Last month I had the honor of being one of over 200 participants for a day-long National Philanthropic Briefing, hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Over 50 foundations were represented, as well as many AAPI community organizations across the country, brought together to discuss with government agency officials about the needs in the AAPI community and population.

It’s great to have a spirit of collaboration and connectedness across sectors – in recognition that no one organization or sector, regardless of how much financial resource one has – can solve our social problems by themselves. My hope is that the energy, excitement, and momentum that’s been built off of this one meeting isn’t bogged down in bureaucracy, pointless debates, and interpersonal conflict. AAPI communities are hurting too much, and growing too much, to wait too long for a difference to be made.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter by Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs, following the event:

Since the National Philanthropic Briefing, we have received an outpouring of responses from so many of you. We are grateful for the input, follow up, and eager inquiries regarding next steps. While we collect your feedback and strategize around a process to move this effort forward, we wanted to take a moment and share with you a few key principles that emerged from the day.

First, this effort has bigger—and better—potential than we even originally anticipated. The groundbreaking $1 million commitment by the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation affords us the rare opportunity to think outside of the proverbial box, to commence a long and lasting conversation, and to expand the discussion to long-term solutions and long-range investments in the AAPI community.

Second, we recognize and respect our inextricable interdependence in this effort. Each of you—federal official, community leader, and philanthropic partner, alike—plays a critical and active role in achieving this kind of transformational change.

Third, the briefing only marks the beginning; moving forward we must work creatively and collaboratively to achieve these ambitious goals.

It is now up to “both philanthropic and governmental organizations to evaluate their strategic plans to ensure that the critical needs of these marginalized communities are addressed.” (Dr. Gail Christopher, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, National Philanthropic Briefing, April 2, 2012). The initial investment will enable us to map out a strategy to leverage significant philanthropic and government investment in the long-term. Through our collaboration with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), we will engage in a thoughtful and collaborative process to ensure that AAPI communities have consistent, reliable access to the resources and support they need. Both federal and philanthropic colleagues have taken note of the historic effort that we collectively embarked upon last month (Download Summary Report 04022012 National Philanthropic Briefing). We now look forward to your participation, your ideas, and your input.