May is Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month, celebrating the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. Recent priorities for grantmakers have focused on racial equity, health and well-being, and immigrant rights. Yet, investments for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) have been under-resourced and deprioritized, receiving only 0.26 percent of philanthropic dollars and 0.17 percent of research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Despite limited funding, strong research and evidence show the lack of data disaggregation, cultural stigmatization, and low uptake of primary and preventative care exacerbate the challenge of cancer control in AANHPI communities. Furthermore, each subpopulation has its own unique needs based on linguistic, cultural, and sociodemographic differences, requiring customized interventions to provide cancer support and services across the continuum of care.

The Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) Foundation’s mission is to promote health equity through outcomes-based interventions using innovative delivery models and community-based supportive services. Through evidence-based literature and discussions with AAPI health advocates, the BMS Foundation issued a Request for Proposal in 2017 to award four 3-year grants totaling $3 million to address cancer disparities and improve cancer care for AANHPIs. Through collaborative efforts, strategic funding, capacity building, and demonstrating sustainable impacts, four BMSF partners offer lessons for the philanthropic community on the importance of investing in AANHPI communities.

These partnerships exemplify the need to invest in AANHPI communities and the ability of community partners and interventions to deliver sustainable and scalable change. It is the collective responsibility of private and public funders to ensure equitable practices, operations, and grantmaking with consideration for AANHPI communities. The BMSF supports the following recommendations from the State of Philanthropy among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders September 2020 report to increase the representation of AANHPI communities:

  1. Be inclusive of AANHPI communities. To battle the historical exclusion of AANHPI communities from data collection efforts and research, grantmakers have the opportunity to collect and share data that includes AANPHI.
  2. Fund AANHPI communities. Evolve grantmaking operations and practices to better support organizations led by and for AANHPI communities including language access in proposal applications, conscientious efforts to support smaller nonprofits in addition to more established organizations, and provision of multiyear funding and general operating support.
  3. Build intersectional and coalitional power. There is an opportunity to build a progressive coalition of communities advancing racial, social, and economic justice.

Read the full article about investing in health equity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) communities by Mason Chiang and Priscilla Ko at Grantmakers In Health.