TAAF Co-Hosted Reception with CASL to Celebrate Chicago AAPI Action Center & Recognize Advocates for Local AAPI Communities

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The Asian American Foundation

Local Elected Officials and Advocates Joined for Conversations About Addressing Anti-AAPI Hate in Chicago and Across Illinois

CHICAGO, IL, November 19, 2021 — The Asian American Foundation ("TAAF"), a convener, incubator, and funder for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) communities, co-hosted a reception yesterday with Chinese American Service League (“CASL”) to celebrate Chicago’s AAPI Action Center, recognize advocates for AAPI communities, and discuss the path forward.

This reception follows The Asian American Foundation’s September announcement, which launched a dual approach to building infrastructure to combat AAPI hate: nationally through its Anti-Hate National Network and locally through its AAPI Action Centers in Chicago, IL, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA. TAAF partnered with and provided funding to local organizations (Action Centers) to help them grow their impact while ensuring best practices were being transmitted between the national and local levels of work. TAAF selected CASL to serve as its Chicago Action Center — a reflection of the organization’s commitment to advancing the shared mission of advancing belonging and prosperity for the AAPI communities in Chicago and Illinois. CASL received a grant of $500,000 from TAAF to support its Client Advocacy Unit, which includes comprehensive victim support including mental and primary health, legal services, housing, employment, and care coordination.

“At CASL, we are committed to dismantling anti-AAPI hate and sentiment through real solutions for our communities,” said ​​Paul Luu, CEO Chinese American Service League. “We’re grateful for TAAF and our Chicago-area partners, who understand the importance of anti-hate, education, and data and research, and share our desire to realize a future in which our communities are treated with understanding, dignity, and respect.”

Yesterday’s reception brought together attendees across business, policy, and advocacy to celebrate the launch of TAAF’s AAPI Action Center in Chicago and bring together a collection of local leaders aligned in the effort to combat anti-AAPI hate and violence. Speakers included TAAF Founding President Sonal Shah, TAAF CEO Norman Chen, CEO of Chinese American Service League Paul Luu, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou, State Representative Theresa Mah, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and 25th Ward Alderman Bryon Sigcho-Lopez. The event also featured recognitions of local community members who have made significant contributions to AAPIs.

“TAAF is building the infrastructure needed to better support, protect and celebrate AAPI communities, and crucial to that effort is planting deep roots in the cities we aim to serve. Yesterday’s reception led to crucial conversation about the future of our work in Chicago and beyond,” said TAAF Founding President Sonal Shah. “We are pleased to partner with CASL to ensure that Chicago communities are not only protected against hate, but also adequately supported through research and social services tailored for our communities.”

Speakers at the reception discussed a range of topics, including demographic shifts taking place in Illinois and Chicago. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent 7% of Chicago’s population, a 31% increase from 2010 to 2020 — making AAPIs the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the city. Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President, said of these shifts and the important contributions AAPIs have made to Cook County, “It has become increasingly clear in recent years that as a crisis of hate continues to ravage our country, it is of the utmost importance that we make sure our diverse AAPI communities are safe and protected. They are a big and vital part of the region, and we applaud the organizations offering on-the-ground support.”

About The Asian American Foundation

The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) is a convener, incubator, and funder committed to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for AAPI communities. TAAF supports advocates and organizations committed to AAPI causes so that together we can more effectively take action against hate and violence, and build the infrastructure needed to improve AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society. We were founded to solve for the longstanding lack of investment and resources provided to AAPI communities and we strive to be a catalyzing force for creating a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for the 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in the United States. For additional information about TAAF, please visit