New York - The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) and the 18% and Growing Campaign on Thursday, May 4, kicked off the first of four rallies scheduled to be held across New York City this month in support of investing in a better tomorrow for AAPI New Yorkers with a vibrant and community-centered gathering just steps away from City Hall in City Hall Park.
Over 120 advocates, service providers, and community members attended the Thursday’s rally, in which speakers and attendees urged City Council members to support the collective fiscal requests of the greater AAPI community that would enhance the health, wellness, and economic wellbeing of thousands of New Yorkers.
First founded in 2008, the name of the 18% and Growing Campaign takes its name from the fact that AAPI New Yorkers now comprise more than 18% of the City’s population. Today, the 18% and Growing Campaign is a unified coalition of 90 AAPI-led and serving community-based organizations from across the five boroughs.
But despite the AAPI community’s expansive growth and development, funding for AAPI communities in New York City has historically lagged behind.
“Over the course of the last 15 years, the 18% and Growing Campaign has been at the forefront of the push to get AAPI New Yorkers the resources and support they both need and deserve. Though persistent and harmful stereotypes like the model minority myth lead many to believe that all AAPI New Yorkers are thriving, the reality is quite different,” said CACF’s Co-Executive Directors Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung.
“Enhancing programs like the AAPI Community Support Initiative will allow community-based organizations across the city to continue to improve and expand their programming for those who need language access support, mental health resources and more. While there have been tremendous strides made when it comes to City Council support for our communities in recent years, we are reminded of just how much we still have to do – especially in terms of getting AAPI New Yorkers who are most marginalized the critical, culturally responsive support they need.”
In order to get our communities the support they need, the 18% And Growing Campaign will be advocating for the following critical funding needs:
● Enhance the AAPI Community Support Initiative to $7.5 million to expand social services by AAPI serving community-based organizations to address the fiscal equity needed to build bridges between culturally competent and linguistically accessible services and the most vulnerable AAPI New Yorkers.
● Enhance the Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund (CCNSF) to $7.5 million to provide capacity building support to Black, Latinx, and AAPI-led community-based organizations.
● Enhance the Access Health Initiative to $4 million to support community-based organizations (CBOs) who provide education, outreach, and assistance to marginalized New Yorkers on how to access health care and coverage.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 18 percent of New York City’s population, yet our communities rarely receive the funding and support they need to thrive,” said CACF’s Director of Policy and Government Relations Felicia Singh. “As we continue to experience the economic and health-related consequences of the pandemic, it’s become clear that the city has to do more to increase access to mental health care, culturally responsive youth programming, and gender-based violence prevention programs. As budget negotiations continue to ramp up, we’re calling on City Council to continue to build on last year’s investment in our communities by supporting our proposal in full.”
Several members of 18% and Growing Campaign spoke at Thursday’s rally, including Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), Julie Ma, Director of Strategy at Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC), Angela Li, Civic Engagement Coordinator, Immigrant Social Services (ISS), and Rachelle Ocampo, President, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
New York City continues to struggle to get AAPI New Yorkers – many of whom are from immigrant and limited English proficient backgrounds – the resources they need to lead fulfilling and productive lives. To close that gap, resources must be allocated to community-based organizations like ours that have the trust and deep ties in the community to provide human services, health care, mental health supports, and racial literacy programming,” said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC). “We join the 18% and Growing campaign members to call on the City to enhance the AAPI Community Support Initiative to $6 million so that Asian American community members can receive culturally relevant and language accessible services needed to not only survive but also thrive in these troubling times.”
"At Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS), every day, our staff are on the frontlines keeping the children at our after-school programs safe and engaged. We take a holistic approach to nurturing the children by providing prevention education and counseling, youth development, and employment,” said Beatrice Chen, Executive Director of ISS. "These services are essential, not nice to haves, not luxuries, but essential. An equitable budget enables us to meet these essential needs that allow our community to thrive, not just survive so that we can collectively strive for a more sustainable and vibrant New York for all. We are 18% and GROWING and we demand and deserve an equitable budget."
"As a member of the AAPI community, KAFSC recognizes the urgent need for greater investments and resources to support our rapidly growing and diverse community, particularly for immigrant survivors of gender-based violence,” said Jeehae Fischer. Executive Director of the Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC). “KAFSC stands in solidarity with our fellow community members in advocating for transparent investments and equitable opportunities that will allow our AAPI community to thrive. Together, we can build a more just and humane social ecosystem that supports and uplifts all New Yorkers, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Thursday’s 18% and Growing rally was the first of four planned budget rallies across New York City. Then on May 10th at 11am at Queens Borough Hall; on May 16th at McKinley Park in Brooklyn, and on May 24 in Little Yemen in the Bronx. To RSVP, head here.