A new foundation is making a substantial investment in rectifying discrimination against Asian-Americans by funding efforts to improve representation of the community in the public, schools, and advocacy.
Asian-American business and social impact leaders this month announced the launch of The Asian American Foundation, which will focus on addressing violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, invest in data-driven research to guide policymakers, and develop school curriculums to more accurately reflect AAPI history.
“We created TAAF to stand up for the 23 million Asian-American and Pacific Islanders living in this country and help bring us all together in the fight for our own prosperity,” said TAAF President Sonal Sha in a press release.
TAAF has already raised $125 million among its board members to support AAPI organizations and causes over the next five years—the largest philanthropic commitment in history by Asian-Americans fully focused on supporting AAPIs. At the same time, TAAF is launching the “AAPI Giving Challenge” to build even more resources to meet the needs of AAPI communities. Asian-Americans make up about 6 percent of the population but receive less than 1 percent of philanthropic funding, according to the group.
TAAF’s launch coincides with an alarming increase in violence directed at Asian-Americans. Reports of anti-Asian hate incidents nearly doubled in March, surging from 3,795 to 6,603, according to data from Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition. Nearly seven out of every 10 victims who reported an incident during that time were women.
TAAF has already made several investments in AAPI communities. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, TAAF distributed $1 million to the Asian Americans Advancing Justice coalition, $1 million to Stop AAPI Hate, and $1 million to the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
TAAF will benefit from the support of an advisory council of over 30 AAPI leaders and allies working in public policy, business, philanthropy, media, and the arts. Founding members include CNN hosts Lisa Ling and Fareed Zakaria, CEO of the George W. Bush Center Ken Hersh, actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim, basketball player Jeremy Lin, former president of the World Bank Dr. Jim Kim, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
A recent survey by Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change found widespread ignorance of the AAPI community: 42 percent of Americans surveyed could not name a single well-known Asian-American. Other notable findings: About one-quarter of white Americans don’t consider anti-Asian racism a problem that needs to be addressed, while about 80 percent of Asian Americans said they face discrimination, compared with 90 percent of Black Americans and 73 percent of Latinos.
“AAPI communities need systemic change to ensure we are better supported, represented, and celebrated across all aspects of American life,” said Sha. “TAAF plans to spark that systemic change and help fundamentally transform AAPI empowerment and support well into the future.”