2021 Year in Review

When we launched in May of 2021, TAAF’s mission was clear: we sought out to serve Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in their pursuit of feeling an irrevocable and permanent sense of belonging, free from discrimination, slander, and violence. TAAF’s founding team understood that our communities have been under-funded and under-resourced for far too long.

Our communities are big and diverse, making up the third largest demographic in America, and representing over 50 ethnic groups, more than 100 languages, and a variety of religions. We formed TAAF to change that reality and have been working alongside a dynamic ecosystem of AAPI advocates and organizations ever since.

So as the year comes to a close, we are reflecting on the progress TAAF has made thus far and where we are hoping to go in 2022 to achieve lasting change. There is plenty of work ahead of us, but we will always remain grounded in a few core principles that shape our efforts:

  • As an incubator, TAAF focuses on scaling existing solutions and developing new solutions alongside our partners in order to address longstanding challenges facing AAPI communities. 
  • As a convener, TAAF is committed to connecting with stakeholders from all sectors – philanthropy, government, corporations, entertainment, community based organizations – so that there can be more collaboration in the collective effort to better support AAPIs from coast to coast.
  • And as a funder, TAAF supports the leaders and organizations across the country already working hard to support AAPI communities, providing them critical funding so they can scale their solutions and maximize their impact.

In our TAAF in 2021 Review, we have captured some of the highlights of our work as an incubator, convener, and funder since our launch earlier this year. But this is only the beginning. We know our charge is more than just about responding to an isolated moment or a fleeting crisis. This is about fundamentally transforming AAPI empowerment and support for the generations to come. Our team will continue to stand on the frontlines, working arm in arm with the amazing advocates and organizations committed to AAPI causes.

And on a personal note, I am so grateful for having served as TAAF’s Founding President. This has been the highlight of my career thus far, so thank you to every TAAF team member, partner, and supporter who contributed to my time at TAAF. I have every confidence that now that we have Norman Chen serving as CEO, TAAF will take its work to the next level.

Here’s to the new year ahead!

Sonal Shah,
Founding President, The Asian American Foundation

Why We Were Founded

Here are some of the critical facts about our communities:

23M

AAPIs in the Community

AAPIs are 23 million strong and have the fastest population growth rate of any major racial or ethnic group in the U.S.–3.5x faster than the overall U.S. population (Pew Research).

<0.2%

Philanthropic Resources

AAPI organizations receive less than 0.2% of philanthropic resources from foundations.

1.5%

Corporate Officer Positions

We are underrepresented across business, government, and media – making up only 1.5% of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies, 3% of U.S. Congressional seats, and 4.3% of both Hollywood film directors and film writers.

10.7x

Income Earnings Difference

Our communities are the most economically divided racial group in American society. AAPIs in the top 10% of the income distribution earned 10.7 times as much as AAPIs in the bottom 10%.

80%

Feel Discriminated

80% of Asian Americans say they do not feel respected and are discriminated against in the U.S. (STAATUS Index).

164%

Increase in Hate Crimes

Hate incidents targeting our communities persist at alarming rates– affecting AAPI women two times as much as the rest of our communities. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties are up 164% since this time last year.

TAAF’s board and founding team understood these harsh realities and recognized that our communities have been under-funded and under-resourced for far too long. To fill in these critical gaps in support, and build the infrastructure needed to better support, protect and celebrate AAPI communities, we formed TAAF in May 2021 and have been hard at work ever since.

Our Focus Areas

Since our launch, we’ve quickly grown our work across several priorities:

Unlocking resources

One of the most critical aspects of TAAF’s mission is to address the longstanding history of AAPI causes and communities being drastically under-funded by philanthropies. We are a funder focused on building the infrastructure that can achieve lasting change for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this country, so we have put a strong emphasis on bringing more resources to bear from the very beginning:

TAAF’s board raised $125 million

Upon our founding, members of TAAF’s board raised $125 million to be invested in AAPI organizations and causes over the next five years — the largest philanthropic commitment in history made by Asian Americans fully focused on supporting AAPI causes.

TAAF raised $1.1 billion in the AAPI Giving Challenge

Shortly following the Board's initial donation, TAAF announced a total of $1.1 billion in donations and in-kind commitments for AAPI communities and causes from philanthropic and corporate partners through our AAPI Giving Challenge. Now we are working with some of those partners to activate those commitments to get more resources to AAPI causes and organizations directly from those partners.

anti-hate

In addition to our Anti-Hate National Network, AAPI Action Centers, and AAPI Emergency Relief Fund, TAAF has also helped develop and design a number of tools geared towards mobilizing our communities to combat hate:

  • Decoding Hate data visualization of over 7,000 incidents and crimes targeting the AAPI community as reported on news media and via Twitter. 
  • Rapid Response Toolkit empowers individuals, community organizations and advocates with tools they need to address anti-AAPI hate in their communities.
  • Documenting Anti-AAPI Hate Codebook (with Stop AAPI Hate) to draft standards and best practices for community-based data collection of hate incidents. 
  • Partnered with InterFaith Youth Core to put together the Interfaith Mobilization Toolkit for college campuses.

education

Since our launch, TAAF has been committed to seeding the creation of K-12 and higher education curricula that reflect AAPIs as part of the American story.

TEAACH ACT passed in Illinois

AAAJ-Chicago advocated for the passage of the historic TEAACH Act in Illinois, the first-of-its-kind policy that requires inclusion of AA history studies in every public school in the state.

Grant to The Asian American Education Project

We also provided a grant to The Asian American Education Project which partners with UCLA's Department of Asian American Studies and Stanford University’s Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) to provide K-12 curriculum lessons for teachers and school districts to teach AAPI history as a core part of American history classes.

changing the narrative

TAAF wants to help change the story of AAPIs and ensure we are seen as part of the very fabric of American life and culture. That’s why when we launched in May, we also launched a project and cultural campaign, See Us Unite. The project has successfully advanced a number of meaningful public awareness efforts:

See Us Unite Special

The launch of the See Us campaign was commemorated by the "See Us Unite for Change" Global Special hosted by Ken Jeong, which explored the contributions of AAPIs to our society.

Sesame Street introduces first Asian American Muppet

TAAF also supported the introduction of the first-ever Asian American muppet on Sesame Street, Ji-Young, and helped promote her introduction to the world by sponsoring “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special.”

data and research

TAAF seeks to develop common data collection standards that better track incidents of hate and violence targeting AAPI communities while also funding research that clearly reflects the AAPI experience for future policymaking, advocacy, and philanthropy.

Urban Institute Study

Our Urban Institute study proposed strategies for AAPI advocates to better address challenges faced by AAPI communities across a number of policy areas.

Pew Charitable Trust

TAAF is supporting this landmark study that will capture both qualitative and quantitative insights about AAPI identity, experiences, opportunities, and challenges.

Key Moments

may 2021

Launch Event

Three former Presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — saluted TAAF’s mission and reminded us all of the valuable contributions AAPIs have made to American society.

may 2021 - present

White House Convenings

We met with President Biden, Vice President Harris, and other senior administration officials to seek their partnership in this journey. Since then we have supported the White House’s series of convenings with policy experts, TAAF grantees, local elected officials, and faith leaders working to better protect AAPI communities through policy solutions, solidarity, and allyship.

june 2021

AAPI Giving Challenge

We called on foundations, corporations, and individuals to join the challenge, and in total raised $1.1B over a five-year period to support AAPI communities and causes. Of these funds, 90% is going directly to AAPI organizations and initiatives as donations ($758M) or in-kind contributions ($133M), and the remaining 10% is going to/through TAAF ($162M) to advance our work.   

september 2021

Anti-Hate & Belonging Initiative

We brought together a coordinated ecosystem of partners to advance tracking, protection, response, and prevention measures that help combat the crisis of hate targeting AAPIs, including the launch of our Anti-Hate National Network, AAPI Action Centers in Chicago, New York, and Oakland and our AAPI Emergency Relief Fund in partnership with GoFundMe.

november 2021

#See Us Coming Together

We worked with the Sesame Street Workshop to develop and introduce Ji–Young, Sesame Street’s first Asian American Muppet, in the #SeeUs Coming Together special with actors Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi, and Naomi Osaka, which premiered on Thanksgiving 2021.

Our Work, By the Numbers

As an incubator, we...

  • Launched 3 AAPI Action Centers, providing each with a $500,000 grant to serve as hubs for addressing anti-AAPI hate locally and to build the connective tissue to help ensure more systematic connectivity across the ecosystem of advocates. 
  • Provided 7 additional grants to organizations as part of our Anti-Hate National Network to scale their solutions for combating anti-AAPI hate in communities where incidents are occurring. 
  • Created or supported the development of 4 new resources and tools, in conjunction with partner organizations, for tracking and tackling hate – e.g., Decoding Hate data visualization, Rapid Response toolkit, Documenting Anti-AAPI Hate Codebook, and InterFaith Youth Core’s Interfaith mobilization toolkit.
  • Seeded our AAPI Emergency Relief Fund in partnership with GoFundMe with $500,000 to drive the quick deployment of resources to victims of anti-AAPI hate and violence.
  • Funded 3 reports on AAPI communities, issues, and philanthropic efforts led by top-tier research organizations.   

As a convener, we...

We spent time meeting communities, local, state and national government officials, and building relationships with philanthropy to support AAPI communities. Convening our communities together is critical, but it first requires listening to and meeting them where they are.  
These meetings informed our learnings and grant making and included:

150+

70+

13+

50+

Meetings with Federal, State, and Local Government

Corporate Partners

Philanthropy Partners

Meetings with

AAPI-serving Organizations

As a funder, we...

Cumulatively committed $9.8M in grants to organizations including:

We are so grateful and we're just getting started. Thank you.

The TAAF Team