Asian American Communities

This article is one of a series I have posted on WordPress, “Connecting with Diverse Communities.”

Pew Research Center noted an important fact about Asian Americans in the United States:

“A record 22 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.” And further, “The U.S. Asian population is projected to reach 46 million by 2060.”

Key Facts About Asian Americans, Pew Research Center (2021)

An important precaution is given by Pew Research against approaching Asian Americans as one monolithic group. Similar to other ethnic groups, “Asian Americans trace their roots to any of dozens of countries in the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Each country of origin subgroup has its own unique history, culture, language, religious beliefs, economic and demographic traits, social and political values, and pathways into America.”

Asian Americans have strong family values, and they believe in the rewards of hard work. Their religious affiliations vary widely. Their educational attainment is higher than the overall U.S. population. Asian Americans are more satisfied than the general public with their financial situations and standard of living.

Pew Research also notes that about half of Asians ages 25 and older (51%) have a bachelor’s degree or more, compared with 30% of all Americans this age. These shares vary widely by Asian origin group. Indians have the highest level of educational attainment among Asian Americans, with 72% holding a bachelor’s degree or more in 2015. A majority of Sri Lankan (57%), Mongolian (59%) and Malaysian (60%) adults 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or more. But lower shares of adults have a bachelor’s degree or more for Cambodians (18%), Hmong (17%), Laotians (16%) and Bhutanese (9%).

Asian Americans tend to favor marriage equality than do not. Overall, they tend to affiliate politically more with the Democratic party than the Republican.

In as 2012 discussion by Pew Research about “Homeownership, Career Success, Altruism and Leisure,” it is noted:

“When it comes to helping others in need, 28% of Asian Americans say this is one of the most important things in their lives. An additional 44% say this is very important to them but not the most important thing, and 26% say this is somewhat important. Only 2% say this is not important to them. Compared with the general public, Asian Americans are somewhat more likely to place a high priority on helping others in need (20% of all American adults say this is one of the most important things in their lives).”

Nonprofit organizations need to be paying attention to the rise of Asian American communities in the United States, and to their unique characteristics. By taking the time to understand the perspective of Asian Americans, the philanthropic sector could make significant headway in terms of seeking and obtaining donations.

In August, 2022, Pew Research published, “In Their Own Words: The Diverse Perspectives of Being Asian in America.” Sharing an insightful quote:

“Being a Pakistani, you have a different identity. [Being] true to myself, that the things I believe in, the things I have my faith in .… Believe in the point that you have to keep the belief. And values you have of your religion and your culture, they are all your values. Keep yourself firm on them.”

Immigrant woman of Pakistani origin, 42 (translated from Urdu)

America has work to do to make Asian Americans feel comfortable, and to encourage them to be more engaged in American society at all levels. After all, they have come to America to be successful in life, work, and in religious pursuit. As leaders of Asian nations engage in threats and saber-rattling, the need becomes more urgent to protect Asian Americans. Locally in Austin, Texas, you might enjoy reading the website of the Asian Asian Chamber of Commerce to find helpful resources and to learn about the economic impact Asian Americans have on Central Texas.

Asian American have long been influential citizens of Texas and the nation. We need to better understand and appreciate them. One organization devoted specifically to this purpose in Central Texas is The New Philanthropists, which is creating a “leadership pipeline for a diverse and inclusive Austin.”

“By the very nature of the principles upon which it was founded, the United States – more than any other nation in history – beckons to its shores the downtrodden, the persecuted, and all those ‘yearning to breathe free.’ It embraces those who come to this country honestly, armed with their work ethic, in search of the promises and opportunities of the American Dream.”

Matthew Spalding, “Why Does America Welcome Immigrants?” for The Heritage Foundation

Additional Resources

This list of links is general in nature and focus on the giving of many groups from Korea to China and the Middle East. In truth, I feel a bit uncomfortable lumping them all into one article! Each group is unique. You will find many more resources by searching online.

  • AAPIP: Asian Americans | Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy is “a justice-minded national philanthropy serving organization that provides unique community spaces for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and allies in philanthropy. We are a membership-based organization that centers equity and justice in philanthropy to move money and build power of AAPI communities for an inclusive democracy.”
  • Korean American Community Foundation has a mission is to “transform and empower communities through philanthropy, volunteerism and inter-community bridge building. KACF pursues these goals through grantmaking that promotes self-sufficiency for the underserved and under-resourced, through raising awareness of needs and issues, and by fostering a culture of giving.”
  • I was inspired by a speech given during the 2011 Charity Channel Summit/Grant Professionals Association in Las Vegas by Bradford K. Smith of The Foundation Center, regarding Asian philanthropists who are creating new foundations, and for whom he has been consulting. Read The Foundation Center’s, “Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India and Brazil.”
  • Alfanar, a venture philanthropy organization supporting Lebanon.
  • Third Sector Foundation of Turkey provides a number of helpful resources. On a personal note, with one of my college degrees in Middle Eastern Studies, it is important to understand that citizens in countries we broadly label the “Middle East” do not necessarily think alike.

For more articles along these lines on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog, see the menu below.

Photographs illustrating this article are courtesy of Adobe Creative Cloud.

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