The shocking uptick in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in 2021 has catalyzed new attention, support, and action from grassroots activists to national philanthropy and the most prominent AAPI leaders in the country.

Within this context, we are highlighting The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s latest report and these two important conclusions: “AAPI nonprofit leaders report having less positive experiences with their foundation funders than nonprofit leaders of other races/ethnicities” and the disheartening finding that “most foundations continue to overlook nonprofits that serve these communities.”

As the report and first-hand accounts of nonprofit leaders show us, AAPI leaders continue to struggle to be seen by their funders and within philanthropy: “They recounted interactions characterized by a lack of understanding of their communities and the challenges they face.” This is compounded by funders’ limited record and experience deploying philanthropic dollars to this sector: “…almost two thirds of foundation leaders say they provide little or no grant dollars to organizations serving AAPI communities.”

This is not a surprise to us because we know that AAPIs are not represented sufficiently within mainstream American culture either — from corporate America to media, including news and entertainment. Why would institutional and individual philanthropy have such a distinct experience with our communities?

According to a report this spring by Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), “nearly 80 percent of Asian Americans say they do not feel respected and are discriminated against…” Adding to this finding, “while Asian Americans are significantly under-represented in senior positions in companies, politics, and media, nearly 50 percent of non-Asian Americans believe Asian Americans are fairly or over-represented.”

With the Asian American population growing at an annual rate of more than 20 percent, Asian Americans will be near 10 percent of the overall U.S. population in the next decade. And yet, despite growing numbers, Asian Americans are underrepresented in key sectors.

In the absence of substantive representation in mainstream culture, we believe that unfair blame put on Asians for the COVID pandemic was left unfettered and has led not only to a 150 percent increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, but now the widest gap in economic disparity and the greatest percentage of long-term unemployment of any ethnic group in the U.S. during the pandemic.

And yet, the attacks that have surged this past year, including the brutal murders in Atlanta, are primarily racially motivated attacks against people of Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Pacific Islander descent.

We must challenge this lack of visibility and empower our AAPI communities.

Read the full article about AAPI communities by Alice Rhee and Eric Kim at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.