Giving to Grow API Leaders

Mona Tawatao and Christine Tien are co-chairs of Sacramento’s APIs RISE Fund, a philanthropic giving circle that aims to enhance Asian Pacific Islander philanthropic giving in the region. The following is excerpted from the Sierra Health Foundation's interview with Mona. 

Founded in 2012 by May O. Lee and Elaine Abelaye-Mateo, APIs RISE Fund provides grants to nonprofits that promote API (Asian Pacific Islander) civic engagement and build and strengthen API leadership in the Sacramento Region. Donors to the Fund decide which nonprofits receive funding each year by voting.  The results of this funding vary widely, based on the variety of needs in the community; 

Mona says, “The work of our current grantees includes:

  • Asian Pacific Islander Queer Coalition of Sacramento holding a groundbreaking homecoming conference in April that connected queer and trans community leaders of color and grassroots activists to each other and to members of the Black queer community for a day of leadership sessions and artistic performances
  • Hmong Innovating Politics is removing barriers to voting, fighting school closures, and advocating for ethnic studies and education equity
  • Hmong Health Alliance through which two Sac State students are creating a first-of-its-kind support network group for Hmong and other Southeast Asian women students on campus who might otherwise be experience social and cultural isolation.” 

The importance of addressing the needs of the community from within the community, as well as engaging API leaders, struck the founders as essential to advocating for the health, social and educational services for the community. 

Mona says, “At the time of our founding, API community organizations nationwide received only 0.4% of all national foundation funding between 1990 and 2002, although the API population had doubled during that time. Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States from 2010 to 2015. In California, while Asians made up 44% of the immigrant vote in 2012, just 56% of eligible API voters were registered to vote."

It’s important for the API community in this region to become more civically engaged and we strive to carry out the vision of our founders to grow the next generation of API leaders.

Pictured on the cover shot are Richard Carrillo, Michelle Huey, and Cha Vang, leaders in the API movement in the Sacramento Region.