At over 11 million strong, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI)* are the fastest growing racial group in America and had the highest increase in voter turnout in 2020. We are pro-choice, pro-climate, pro-gun control, pro-immigration, and pro-Democrat.
The National AAPI Power Fund (Power Fund) was established in 2020 to support the emerging AAPI voting bloc. We harness the energy, enthusiasm, and potential of this electorate for progressive impact.
*AAPIs include people from East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the Pacific Islands.
In the 2020 U.S. presidential and Senatorial elections, the Asian American Advocacy Fund (AAAF) led the effort to call 92% of the estimated 238,000 eligible AAPI voters in Georgia. By Election Day itself, 50% of the state’s registered AAPI voters had already voted — a 141% increase over the early vote in 2016. AAAF, with the support of the National AAPI Power Fund, strengthened and expanded Georgia’s electorate and also produced a dramatic increase in turnout that ultimately brought Democrats control of the US Senate.
What We Do
1. Resource local, progressive AAPI groups
2. Provide technical assistance, trainings, and coaching to our grantees
3. Commission culturally competent research on the AAPI electorate
The Power Fund has made over $2 million in grants since its formation.
“We are so grateful for our partnership with the National AAPI Power Fund. Over the last few years, the Power Fund has been a crucial partner in our mission to educate, activate, and mobilize a progressive base of Asian Americans in Georgia. Additionally, in the lead up to the 2022 Midterm Elections, their support has helped us scale our programs, grow our staff, and hone our political strategy, and we look forward to our continued work together.“
Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, Executive Director at the Asian American Advocacy Fund
“From day one, the Power Fund was ready to jump in with us. Our vision, our dreams, our ideas — nothing felt within reach until we had that first conversation with the Power Fund. As a young organization, it’s hard to know what questions to ask, what grants to apply to, what networks we need to build. The Power Fund took their time with us, coached us, mentored us. The time and patience was invaluable to our growth — for us as a team, but also for me, as a first-time Executive Director.”
Linh Nguyen, Executive Director at RUN AAPI
Young AAPI Poll
In 2020, the Power Fund commissioned Asian American Decisions to conduct a poll of young AAPI citizens between the ages of 18 to 34 in the months leading up to the November election. This effort was designed to inform and promote the digital engagement activities of RUN AAPI. In total, 800 respondents were asked questions about their voter registration status, likelihood of voting, level of support for each presidential candidate, issue priorities, and their reaction to issues through various message texting examples. Some key findings include:
An indication of the large extent of AAPI young potential voters being untapped, e.g., a third did not plan to register and only 40% had been contacted by someone about the 2020 general election;
Young AAPIs are deeply impacted by COVID-related racism and a majority seem strongly aligned with a progressive agenda and movement politics, e.g., around following public health recommendations and climate science and stances regarding police brutality, gun violence, and universal health care; and
Mobilizing around an AAPI identity may be less important than addressing issues and policies to engage this constituency.
Subsequent analyses could be done that disaggregate responses by nativity, ethnic/national origin, gender, age, educational attainment, or employment status.
The Power Fund supported Represent Us Now (RUN) AAPI, an organization that works with celebrity influencers to produce and disseminate creative materials and messaging to encourage young AAPI voter engagement in their followers. A highlight of RUN AAPI’s work in 2020 was its launch video.
Asian American Rappers Mobilize Voters to the Poll
Asian American Rappers Mobilize Voters to the Poll
In 2020, the National AAPI Power Fund presented an election themed song, VOTE. Asian American rappers jason chu (LA), Alan Z (Atlanta) and Chow Mane (Bay Area) come together on a high-energy track repping the many reasons – from policies, to communities, to the presidential reality show – that they’re turning out to vote in this election. In this pivotal election, Asian American and Pacific Islander votes could be the deciding factor in key races. Blending fiery urgency with humor, the boys remind Gen Z and younger millennials that there’s no reason not to vote – and every reason to.
WHY THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT NEEDS MORE AAPI WOMEN TO RUN FOR POLITICAL OFFICE
In 2020, the National AAPI Power Fund, in collaboration with New American Leaders Action Fund and Groundswell Action Fund, released a brief on the need for AAPI women to run for political office. The brief explores why AAPI women lag far behind men when it comes to running for elected office and offers recommendations to increase the number of AAPI women candidates. The brief is informed by a series of interviews conducted with a cross section of AAPI women, from nonprofit leaders and organizers to campaign strategists and elected officials, combined with data showing that AAPI women have more progressive views than AAPI men.
Approximately seven out of every ten AAPI progressive, civic engagement nonprofits are led by AAPI women, but that leadership does not extend to representation in political office.
AAPI women are under-represented in state legislatures compared to AAPI men. There are 47 AAPI women state legislators, comprising just 32% of the 149 AAPI state legislators in the country.
AAPI women are consistently more progressive than AAPI men. In 2018, 73% of AAPI women supported the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared to 69% of AAPI men.
A new training program to recruit and develop AAPI women as candidates and campaign staff could open up new avenues for AAPI women to begin to run for office in greater numbers.
EunSook has been with the National AAPI Power Fund since its establishment in 2020. Previously she was the Executive Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, Senior Deputy to Congressmember Karen Bass, and Executive Director of Korean American Women In Need, a domestic violence agency in Chicago. She is formerly the founding president of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund and Member of the City of LA’s Board of Neighborhood Commission. EunSook began her career in radio broadcasting in Toronto, Canada first as a volunteer news programmer at CKUT radio before becoming the News Director and later Station Manager at CKLN radio.
Carrie Pugh, Senior Advisor for Program and Strategy
Having just finished a stint as the Director of External Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Carrie has started her own consulting firm, 8821 Strategies. Prior to joining the Administration, she served as the Senior National Political Director for the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, with 3 million members who live in every single congressional district in the country. During her tenure, she successfully launched the See Educator Run training program to create an entry point for Educators to run for office at the state or local level and was a key behind the scenes catalyst in shaping the national progressive infrastructure widely recognized today, such as For Our Future, the Strategic Victory Fund, the New American Majority Fund and Progress Now.
Prior to joining NEA in 2007, she served in Service Employees International Union’s Political Department as the national field director and Midwest political director. She first began her work in social justice movement building and electoral politics as a grassroots organizer for the Jessica McClintock Justice for Garment Workers campaign, Associate Director at Chinese Mutual Aid Association, and Policy and Advocacy Director at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Carrie also served as the Chair of the Board of the New American Majority Fund, a project of the Democracy Alliance, Progress Now, AAPI Progressive Action, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, and the Democracy Alliance’s State Victory Fund Investment Committee.
Luna Yasui, Chair
Luna has over 25 years of experience in the philanthropic, law and advocacy, and civic engagement sectors. She advises donors and projects that seek to build the leadership and power of women, people of color, young people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. As a Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation Luna helped launch the foundation’s first LGBT rights program and led grantmaking strategies to deepen the civic engagement of young people, women, immigrants, and people of color. She also developed new initiatives to support state-level social justice infrastructure and multi-year institutional investments in Black-led organizing. While at the Open Society Foundations she oversaw portfolios on gender justice, LGBT rights, and low-wage workers’ rights. Her public interest legal work includes launching the Immigrant Day Labor Program at the National Employment Law Project, and serving as a staff attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid. She serves on the boards of the Amalgamated Foundation, National AAPI Power Fund, and re:power.
Luna received her JD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law where she was a Public Interest Fellow and BA from Brown University. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner, their twins, and Tater, the guinea pig.
Connie Cagampang Heller
Connie Cagampang Heller is a biracial Filipina American textile artist and cofounder of the Linked Fate Fund for Justice.
In 2004, Connie cofounded the Linked Fate Fund for Justice with her partner to support grassroots organizing, power building and to transform systemic inequity into systemic inclusion and belonging. From 2005 to 2018, Connie played a critical role as a volunteer leader and consultant to design strategic interventions and racial equity learning spaces for organizations such as the Democracy Alliance, Women Donors Network, The California Endowment, Bioneers and the Othering and Belonging Institute.
Since 2016, Connie has focused on using collage art to explore race in America–capturing both what is beautiful and inspiring about people and disturbing about the continually evolving system of marginalization. Her art has been shown at the Northern California Museum of Art, the National Academy of Medicine and the East Bay Community Foundation, and is in the permanent collections of The Charles Houston Hamilton Institute at Harvard Law School, the California Historical Society and Tufts University’s Tisch College for Civic Life. Her art is featured in World Trust film, Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity and on the cover of the late Dr. Lani Guinier’s The Tyranny of Meritocracy.
She serves on the boards of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and the East Bay Community Foundation. Past board service includes Groundswell Fund for Reproductive Justice, Groundswell Action Fund, Women Donors Network, Perception Institute, and the Center for Social Inclusion.
Quanita currently directs Groundswell Action Fund, 501(c)(4) public foundation which strengthens U.S. movements for reproductive and social justice by resourcing intersectional electoral organizing led by women of color, low-income women and Transgender and Gender Expansive (TGE) people of color. Prior to this role, she led Groundswell Fund’s 501(c)(3) Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) program, a capacity building program that equips Reproductive Justice (RJ) groups with cutting edge voter engagement skills and technology to implement year-round organizing.
Quanita began organizing for social justice alongside her parents in her native South Africa. She joined her parents as they voted, for the first time in their lives, for Nelson Mandela in 1994. Quanita and her family immigrated to Florida in 1997. She found her political home at the Miami Workers Center and was involved in MWC’s first non-partisan civic engagement campaign in 2008. In 2009, she was a founding staff member of New Florida Majority and led the creation of statewide, data-driven electoral campaigns to advance social change until 2014. She holds a B.A. in Political Theory, Economic Development, and African Studies from Hampshire College.
The National AAPI Power Fund is fiscally sponsored by the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that funds lobbying and independent political work, so donations made directly to us are not tax-deductible. However, C4 donations give the Power Fund the most flexibility to support local groups engaged in these activities on the ground.You can donate online by clicking here. Please make sure to fill in the Designation field with “National AAPI Power Fund”.