Asian American Foundation launched with pledges totaling $250 million

Asian American Foundation launched with pledges totaling $250 million

To help address a longstanding lack of investment in Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, a group of Asian-American business leaders has launched the Asian American Foundation (TAAF) with $125 million in commitments.

The largest philanthropic commitment to date by Asian Americans targeting AAPI communities specifically will support organizations and causes over the next five years working to address community needs, with a focus on mobilizing action against hate and violence and building the infrastructure needed to improve AAPI advocacy, power, and representation in American society. Initial efforts will focus on three areas where the group feels the need is most urgent: developing long-term solutions to anti-AAPI hate and violence; research aimed at developing common data standards to better track incidents of anti-AAPI hate and violence and identifying the needs of AAPI communities with respect to future policy making, advocacy, and philanthropy; and creating K-12 and higher education curricula that include AAPI communities' experiences and contributions to American history.

In addition to the $125 million raised from the founding board members — who include Himalaya Capital founder and chair Li Lu, KKR co-president Joseph Bae, Anti-Defamation League CEO and national director Jonathan Greenblatt, Care.com founder Sheila Lirio Marcelo, TAAF founding president Sonal Shah, Alibaba Group co-founder and Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai, Yahoo! co-founder and AME Cloud Ventures founder Jerry Yang, and Citadel Securities CEO Peng Zhao — the foundation has launched the AAPI Giving Challenge. In partnership with the Ford Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the campaign is urging funders, corporations, and individuals to pledge additional resources to the effort. Supporters at the time of launch include the Citi, Wallace H. Coulter, Henry Luce, and Surdna foundations, as well as corporations such as Amazon.com, Bank of America, Citadel Securities, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley, National Basketball Association, Panda Express, and Walmart. According to the New York Times, the challenge has raised an additional $125 million to date.

In the wake of the March 16 shootings in the Atlanta area, TAAF has awarded several grants to organizations working to address anti-AAPI hate and violence, including $1 million each to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop AAPI Hate, and the National Asian American Women's Forum.

"We created TAAF to stand up for the twenty-three million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in this country and help bring us all together in the fight for our own prosperity. TAAF wants to strengthen and build power for AAPIs, particularly as we face an exponential increase in hate and violence," said Shah, who previously served as deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and founded the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. "AAPI communities need systemic change to ensure we are better supported, represented, and celebrated across all aspects of American life. TAAF plans to spark that systemic change and help fundamentally transform AAPI empowerment and support well into the future."

(Photo credit: Asian American Foundation)