This week, on May 12, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington, DC. Nearly 2,000 community members, federal officials, and guests from over 40 states and the Pacific Islands came together to connect with one other, share their experiences and stories, and gain tools to mobilize their communities to continue expanding opportunity for AAPIs everywhere.
President Obama sent a video message to the Summit participants:
Throughout this summit, we heard the same clear message across federal government: we are working hard to better reach and serve the dynamic and diverse needs of our nation’s growing AAPI community. That is precisely why WHIAAPI focuses on building bridges between government and advocacy groups, institutions, and local communities. To further these goals, we focused our plenaries, fireside chats with government leaders, nearly 25 panel discussions, and brown bag lunches – on highlighting and addressing issues that impact AAPI communities around the country. Topics discussed spanned the gamut, from bullying and harassment in schools to the power of immigrant and refugee voices to social entrepreneurship.
Check out the Flickr photoset from the day: https://flic.kr/ps/UJEah
On October 14, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Executive Order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative). The Initiative, chaired by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, is housed within the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs where they remain underserved.
The Executive Order also established the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the Federal Interagency Working Group. Working in conjunction, the Commission and Federal Interagency Working Group are comprised of individuals, executive branch departments, agencies, and offices representing a broad spectrum of fields and programs impacting Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities.
The Initiative works collaboratively with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the designated Federal agencies to increase Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in programs in education, commerce, business, health, human services, housing, environment, arts, agriculture, labor and employment, transportation, justice, veterans affairs and economic and community development.
The Initiative seeks to highlight both the tremendous unmet needs in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities as well as the dynamic community assets that can be leveraged to meet many of those needs. The Initiative focuses on crosscutting priority areas that may reach across all issue areas and agencies, including, for example, advancing research, data collection, analysis and dissemination for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and ensuring access, especially linguistic access and cultural competence, for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and encouraging Asian American and Pacific Islander involvement in public service and civic engagement opportunities.
This historic Executive Order initiates another avenue of access to the federal government for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and affirms President Obama’s commitment to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.