(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Rally Against Hate to end discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in New York City
By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) – A new organization dedicated to supporting Asian-American and Pacific Islander causes launched on Monday with a $125 million financial commitment over five years, vowing to create national infrastructure for a community that has faced an increasing number of racial attacks.
The Asian American Foundation will invest its initial funding – described by organizers as the largest-ever private philanthropic effort by Asian Americans to support the AAPI community – in three main areas: anti-hate programs, education, and data and research.
The foundation’s board, which will provide the $125 million, is chaired by Li Lu, founder of hedge fund Himalaya Capital, and includes several prominent AAPI business leaders, including billionaires Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo, and Joseph Tsai, the co-founder of Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Group Holding.
An online launch event on Tuesday will feature former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the foundation said.
The organization means fill in gaps that have long constrained AAPI community organizations, which receive less than 0.5% of charitable foundation giving.
The effort bolsters the emergence of Asian Americans as a political and cultural force, particularly in the wake of a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes in the last year. The 23 million-strong community is the country’s fastest-growing demographic group and saw a massive surge in voter turnout in last year’s presidential election.
An Atlanta-area mass shooting in March, which included six women of Asian descent among the eight victims, further galvanized national advocates.
The organization’s board includes Joseph Bae, co-president of private equity firm KKR & Co (NYSE:KKR); Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel LLC’s market-making division Citadel Securities; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder of Care.com; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League; and Sonal Shah, a former Obama administration official who will serve as the foundation’s president.
The group will support organizations that combat hate; help create school curricula that reflect the AAPI community’s historical contribution to the United States; finance efforts in the arts, film and media to ensure the Asian-American experience is included; and invest in data-driven research to produce better policymaking and advocacy.
“We want our communities to be seen,” Shah said. “We want to make sure they have a voice when it comes to policy; we want to make sure they have a voice when it comes to academia; we want to make sure they have a voice when it comes to the arts.”
The foundation lined up an advisory board of prominent AAPI figures who will help promote its work, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, actor Daniel Dae Kim, CNN hosts Lisa Ling and Fareed Zakaria, former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and professional basketball player Jeremy Lin.
The organization has already awarded $1 million each to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop AAPI Hate and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, as well as $500,000 to the Asian American Education Project to transform the “Asian Americans” PBS miniseries into a curriculum, Shah said.
U.S. foundation launches with $125 million from business leaders to combat anti-Asian hate