11th Annual APA City Advocacy Day Held in New York

The 15% & Growing Campaign gathered nearly 300 community members, service providers, advocates, and elected allies yesterday at 12:00 PM on the steps of City Hall for the 11th Annual Asian Pacific American (APA) City Advocacy Day to demand equitable funding for the APA community. The 15% & Growing Campaign, led by the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF), unites over 45 Asian-led and serving organizations in New York City to advocate for a fair budget.

Despite its growth, the APA community now representing over 15% of NYC does not receive sufficient resources.  In FY 2019, APA organizations received only 5.06% of all discretionary funding despite the communities’ growth and vast needs. This lack of resources serve as barriers to education, health care, employment, civic participation, and other factors critical for the APA community to become fully contributing members of New York City. Culturally competent and language accessible services provided by community organizations are both effective and impactful in meeting the communities’ needs. The Campaign’s FY 2020 Budget Priorities are to restore and expand initiatives that address the following issue areas:  1) Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund (CCNSF), 2) Children and Youth Services, 3) Older Adult Services, 4) Immigrant Services, 5) Health and Well-being, 6) Housing and Economic Security, 7) Violence Prevention and Intervention, and 8) Workforce Development.

“As the highly diverse APA community grows across the City, the need for more culturally competent and language accessible services grows as well,” said Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director  of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families . “Contrary to the model minority myth, APAs face the highest rates of poverty and linguistic isolation across New York City. Today, we stand united as an APA community with our allies in City Council to demand fair funding for our communities.”

Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, said, “Asian-led community organizations across New York City provide the most effective culturally competent and language accessible services that have the largest impact in addressing the needs of our community.  However, our organizations continue to experience growing wait lists and rising costs to sustain vital services for our communities.”

“The 15% growing campaign recognizes the simple truth that, despite being one of the fastest growing populations in New York, the Asian Pacific American community receives minimal resources from City Hall,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging (District 1). “A fair New York City means a budget which produces equitable outcomes for its diverse population. I stand with the hundreds of community members, service providers, fellow elected officials, and the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families in calling on this Administration to provide the funding our community deserves.”

“Our Asian Pacific American families need additional resources from the city,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the FinanceCommittee (District 25). “APAs are one of the fastest growing communities in NYC They have greatly enriched our city yet many APAs are living their lives in the margins of society. As elected officials, we must adequately fund the grass roots organizations who work around the clock to reach these at-risk community members. While I am proud to have successfully fought for increased funding for APA-led service providers over the years, much more work remains to be done. I will continue to stand with the 15% and Growing Campaign to advocate for more dollars for APA organizations.”

“I am pleased to join the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families for Asian Pacific American Advocacy Day. I have been honored to work with many of the coalition members, to allocate discretionary funds, and to join the fight for funding for the outstanding social service organizations that serve the residents of Eastern Queens and neighborhoods across the City,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation (District 23).

“Despite being one of the fastest growing communities in New York City, the Asian Pacific American community is still one of the least funded. This is unacceptable, and what it translates into is insufficient resources across a range of critical services and programs: immigration, healthcare, education, employment, and civic engagement for our APA community,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration (District 38). “If we are truly an inclusive and fair city, we must ensure that the City’s budget and funding accurately reflect the needs of all our immigrant communities – including our APA community – and the local community-based organizations who serve them. I applaud the 15% & Growing Campaign for its on-going advocacy, and I am proud to stand with the Campaign in calling for more equitable funding for the APA community and APA serving organizations.”

The 15% & Growing Campaign continues to work with and urge the City Council to address the lack of resources to the underserved APA community through City Council controlled funding. City Council discretionary funding is a crucial resource for small community based organizations and often the first city funding organizations can access.

Members of the 15% & Growing Campaign met with over 20 City Council Members and urged them to provide resources to the most vulnerable APA New Yorkers including immigrants and low-income families, seniors, children, youth and women. Three impactful initiatives highlighted in the day’s legislative meetings and rally, among others, were:

Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund. For the past five fiscal years, the New York City Council allocated funds to the Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund, which addresses the need for capacity-building resources for nonprofit organizations serving primarily communities of color (including Asian, Latinx, and African American communities as well as emerging immigrant groups). For FY 2020, we are requesting the City Council for an enhancement of this initiative to $5 million.

Access Health NYC. Almost 15% of APAs in NYC ages 18 and over are uninsured and over a majority (89%) of uninsured APAs are foreign-born. Health care access problems are exacerbated in the APA community by immigration status-related challenges and fears, language barriers, cultural stigmas, and low utilization of primary and preventive care. The 15% & Growing Campaign is calling on City Council to continue supporting the Access Health NYC initiative by restoring it at $2.5 million. This initiative helps train and inform disenfranchised New Yorkers on their health rights and options.

Domestic Violence and Empowerment Initiative (DoVE). We call on City Council to restore $9.305 million for DoVE funding that supports prevention, empowerment workshops, comprehensive service referrals, and legal advocacy to survivors of domestic violence. These funds are critical to support the work of APA and immigrant-serving organizations whose work with survivors of violence is made more complex with challenges around immigration status, language accessibility, and bridging cultural and other divides.

Nearly 25% of Asian Americans live in poverty in New York City, the highest poverty rate across all ethnic groups in the City. Those struggling with poverty are also more likely to be recently arrived immigrants, and limited English proficient individuals, children, and seniors. The City must continue to increase funding and support for the services that promote the health, well-being, educational, and economic vitality of our most vulnerable New Yorkers.

Rawaa Nancy Albilal, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arab-American Family Support Center said, “The Arab-American Family Support Center is proud to stand with all immigrants and refugees, including the growing Asian Pacific American communities. It is essential that we provide a platform to uplift the voices and choices of our richly diverse neighbors so they have the resources they need to thrive.”

“According to a recent scholarly study, only 4 percent of series regulars on TV last year were Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders—and more than half of those shows were canceled. We need the opportunity to have our voices heard, our faces seen, and our stories told in popular media,” said Lisa Gold, Executive Director of the Asian American Arts Alliance. “I’m grateful to the 15% and Growing Campaign for helping to bring visibility and equity to the APA community.”

“With immigrant workers comprising almost 50% of the city’s workforce, investing in on-ramps to Career Pathways Programs are essential for the city’s workforce development system to be inclusive and impactful,” said Jennifer Sun, Co-Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality. “We urge the Mayor and City Council to fund bridge programs designed to provide immigrant job-seekers with the integrated pre-literacy classes, skills training, and case management required to help them move from low-wage to living wage jobs.”

“Indo-Caribbeans and South Asians are among the most underserved communities in New York City, and face some of greatest threats of gentrification, displacement and loss of livelihoods. We witness everyday community members who are unable to stay in the neighborhoods they built or are forced to shutter businesses because of sky-rocketing rents. It is critical that the City significantly increase the supports and resources necessary to keep immigrant neighborhoods stable and thriving,” said Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya Community Development Corporation.

“In order to advance our community, and become a truly equitable and immigrant-inclusive city, we need to invest more in initiatives like Geriatric Mental Health, Senior Centers for Immigrant Populations, Adult Literacy, COMPASS, and other senior and immigrant services. And more Asian-led and serving organizations must be designated funding from these initiatives,” said Wayne Ho, President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc. “During these turbulent times, the Mayor’s Office and City Council should continue to increase resources for immigrant communities, especially legal services and workforce development programs. New York City must address the inequity of resources available to the Asian American community to ensure immigrants and their families across generations have an equal opportunity to thrive.”

Stephanie Lau, Assistant Executive Director of CMP, said, “As the Asian community continues to grow in size and geographically, our need for culturally competent and linguistically available services grows as well. CMP looks forward to Advocacy Day to engage in meaningful dialogue with our elected officials and colleagues alike.”

“Despite continued support from City Council, the APA community still faces numerous challenges every day. The APA community has the highest uninsured rates in healthcare, and roughly one in four APA seniors (23%) live in poverty. Moreover, the APA community has the highest rate of linguistic isolation in NYC, at 42%. The reasons behind such high instances of poverty, isolation and uninsured rates are complex. APA individuals are faced with social, cultural and linguistic barriers, have a limited knowledge of healthcare and social services, and have a general lack of trust in the system that result in very low utilization of city services. To protect this vulnerable population, we need to secure vital services such as mental health counseling, meals on wheels, and senior job training. It is more important than ever that the City Council continue its support for CBOs in providing such vital services to the under-served APA population,” said Eunhye Grace Kim, Assistant Director, Public Health and Research Center of The Korean Community Service of Metropolitan New York, Inc.

Khamarin Nhann, Campaign Director of Mekong NYC, said, “Mekong NYC serves and organizes the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx and throughout NYC. We are here today with all of these amazing leaders and organizations that are on the ground and providing much needed direct services and advocating on behalf of vulnerable communities. Community-based organizations like Mekong NYC are on the front lines and see the direct impacts of the Social Determinants of Health. This is much more then lack of resources, but actually address root causes and understanding the importance of social and economic issues impacting our overall health. We need to uplift all voices and narratives of our communities, which includes immigrants, refugees, undocumented, and citizens of our great city. We need the support from elected officials to continue in supporting the 15% and Growing Campaign to provide resources for organizations on the ground to provide vital services. We are not just the communities safety net, but we are playing a role in building community power.”

“In addition to Asian Pacific Americans being the fastest growing population from the federal to city level, we also have the highest foreign born population, the fastest growing senior population, the highest rates of poverty for the working age population since 2007, and the highest rates of limited English proficiency and linguistic isolation,” said John Park, Executive Director of MinKwon Center for Community Action. “This contributes directly to the unique challenges faced by APA led community based organizations, and we need a common sense budget where resource allocations match the actual needs of our communities.”

“CBOs, like Sapna NYC, are uniquely qualified to serve APA immigrant communities in NYC. Non-profits of color that emerge from within the communities they serve are some of the most effective service providers. However, it’s essential that the City continues to grow the CCNSF to help build the capacity of these smaller non-profits to help train staff, enhance systems, and build leadership,” said Diya Basu-Sen, Executive Director of Sapna NYC.

“As an organization that provides crucial services in health outreach and education to marginalized immigrant communities through City Council funding, SACSS has first-hand experience of how vital these programs are. Communities rely on organizations like ours to offer language accessible and culturally competent services that many city agencies do not provide. It is imperative that the City Council ensures the expansion of funds so that these services are not curtailed,” said Sudha Acharya, Executive Director of South Asian Council for Social Services.

“Turning Point for Women and Families works with Muslim youth and hopes that the City Council will increase its support for youth programs in New York City’s Asian American communities. We know that our youth trust and feel more empowered when folks who support them look like them, and we hope that the City will continue to invest in organizations that are investing in our City’s future,” said Tazmin H. Uddin, Youth Program Coordinator of Turning Point for Women and Families.

Aya Tasaki, Manager, Policy and Advocacy of Womankind, said, “Womankind has continued to serve Asian survivors of gender-based violence for close to four decades. We know from experience that the journey to truly rise above trauma is complex, and that a support system with linguistic and cultural humility is critical. Today the most vulnerable of our clients are pushed into the cross-hairs of heightened attacks. Now is the time, more than ever, for New York City to invest in Asian-led, Asian-serving organizations because we are the ones who best serve, heal, and amplify the voices of our communities with dignity. We are the ones who will never stop doing the work, because these are our communities, our families, our homes – and we are here to stay.”

The following City Council Members joined the 15% and Growing Campaign in solidarity and called for greater funding equity to the APA community: Council Member Daniel Dromm, Council Member Barry Grodenchik, Council Member Ben Kallos, Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and Council Member Bill Perkins.

Organizations who attended the press rally:

Arab-American Family Support Center

Asian American Arts Alliance

Asian American/Asian Research Institute-CUNY

Asian Americans for Equality


Charles B. Wang Community Health Center

Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc.

Chinese Progressive Association

Chhaya Community Development Corporation

Coalition for Asian American Children and Families

Filipino American Human Services, Inc.

Homecrest Community Services

Indochina Sino-American Community Center

Japanese American Social Services, Inc.

Japanese American Association of New York

Korean American Family Service Center

Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York

Leviathan Lab

Mekong NYC

MinKwon Center for Community Action

NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health

Sakhi for South Asian Women

Sapna NYC

South Asian Council for Social Services

South Asian Youth Action

Turning Point for Women and Families

United Chinese Association of Brooklyn


Women for Afghan Women

The 15% & Growing Campaign is comprised of over 45 Asian led and serving organizations in New York City aiming for the State and City governments to have fair, inclusive budgets that protect the most vulnerable Asian Pacific American New Yorkers. Campaign members employ thousands of New Yorkers and serve hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.

Adhikaar ▪ Alliance of South Asian American Labor ▪ Andolan – Organizing South Asian Workers ▪ Apex for Youth* ▪ APICHA Community Health Center* ▪ Arab-American Family Support Center ▪ Asian American Arts Alliance* ▪ Asian American/Asian Institute of New York – CUNY ▪ Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund ▪ Asian Americans for Equality* ▪ Asian Outreach Clinic, Child Center of New York ▪ Asian Youth Center of NY ▪ Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans* ▪ Chhaya CDC ▪ CMP* ▪ Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health ▪ Chinese-American Planning Council* ▪ Chinese Progressive Association ▪ Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (lead) ▪ Council of Peoples Organization ▪ Damayan Migrant Workers Association ▪ DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center ▪ Filipino American Human Services, Inc. ▪ Greater Chinatown Community Association ▪ Hamilton Madison House ▪ Homecrest Community Services ▪ Indo-Caribbean Alliance ▪ Indochina Sino American Community Center ▪ Immigrant Social Services ▪ Japanese American Association of New York* ▪ Japanese American Social Services, Inc. ▪ Korean American Family Service Center ▪ Korean American League for Civic Action ▪ Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc*. ▪ Korean Family Counseling and Research Center ▪ Lower East Side Family Union ▪ MAAWS for Global Welfare, Inc. ▪ Mekong NYC ▪ MinKwon Center for Community Action* ▪ New York Coalition for Asian American Mental Health ▪ NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health ▪ NYU South Asian Health Initiative ▪ Sakhi for South Asian Women ▪ Sapna NYC ▪ Sikh Coalition ▪ South Asian Council for Social Services* ▪ South Asian Youth Action* ▪ Turning Point for Women and Families ▪ United Chinese Association of Brooklyn ▪ United Sikhs ▪ Womankind* ▪ Women for Afghan Women ▪ YWCA of Queens.

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