Stop APPI Hate Rally in Flushing, New York | Photo by Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media
NEW YORK – The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), a new foundation dedicated to offering funding and resources to Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) causes, launched May 3 as a convener, incubator, and funder for the AAPI community. TAFF has already raised an initial $125 million from among its board members to support causes over the next five years and called it “the largest philanthropic commitment in history by Asian Americans.’
TAAF also kicked off a virtual launch event on May 4, Claiming Power: The Future of Asian Americans, to galvanize even more resources to meet the needs of APPI communities. According to Reuters, several major companies, including Coca-Cola, Walmart, Amazon, and the National Basketball Association, have contributed another $125 million.
President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama gave the opening remarks. The event also featured panels on power-building, belonging, coalition-building, and the AAPI Giving Challenge, which aims to unlock resources for the AAPI community after being historically underfunded. Jose Antonio Vargas was one of the panelists in the coalition-building segment moderated by CNN’s Lisa Ling.
“We created TAAF to stand up for the 23 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 Sonal Shah, President of TAAF. “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.”
Shah previously served as Deputy Assistant to President Obama and founded the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.
Filipino American Sheila Lirio Marcelo, a member of its board, believes that “education is one of the most powerful tools in bridging cultures and bringing people together to create changes.” “My role at TAAF will be in service of building that understanding through sharing stories and amplifying voices,” she said. “The more we learn about one another, the more we can stand in solidarity with our community, allies and partners to create a more just and equitable future for all.”
The Harvard-educated Marcelo is a former Chairwoman and CEO of Care.com. She founded her company in 2006, and under leadership, Care.com became the world’s largest marketplace for providing care, serving more than 35 million people across 20 countries and growing more than 100% year-over-year from its founding in 2006, until the company went public in 2014. In 2020, Care.com was acquired by holding company IAC. In January 2021, Marcelo joined venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA).
TAAF’s Board is led by Board Chair Li Lu, Founder & Chairman of Himalaya Capital. The board comprises business and social impact leaders who have coalesced around the need to bring investments and resources to AAPI communities through a unified, well-funded platform. TAAF will also benefit from the support of an Advisory Council of over 30 leading AAPI leaders and allies of the community working in public policy, business, philanthropy, media, and the arts to act as ambassadors TAAF and support the advancement of its work.
Founding Advisory Council 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.
The foundation said it plans to use the initial investment to focus on research, education, and supporting groups working to combat violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
TAAF is inviting leaders from business and philanthropy to participate in its AAPI Giving Challenge, a 5-year commitment to bringing sorely needed resources to under-funded AAPI communities and causes. TAAF will work with the partners who join the AAPI Giving Challenge to develop programs and help bring TAAF’s mission and vision to life.
TAAF has already made several critical investments in AAPI communities to ensure organizations can address anti-AAPI hate and violence. In the aftermath of the tragic Atlanta-area shooting that took place in March 2021, TAAF distributed $1 million to Asian Americans Advancing Justice (“AAJC”) coalition, $1 million to Stop AAPI Hate, and $1 million to the National Asian American Women’s Forum (“NAPAWF”). These grants will offer ongoing support as these organizations monitor anti-AAPI hate incidents and build systems to measure and defend hate against the community for the long term.
While there are 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S., historically, “AAPI communities have received less than 0.5% of charitable giving from foundations,” TAAF said.
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the U.S.