Event Celebrated Landmark Launch of TAAF and the Start of AAPI Heritage Month; Featured Remarks from TAAF Leadership and Former U.S. Presidents
WASHINGTON, DC, May 4, 2021 — Earlier today, The Asian American Foundation ("TAAF"), a convener, incubator, and funder for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) communities, held a stirring virtual launch event titled, “Claiming Power: The Future of Asian Americans.” TAAF launched just yesterday and announced its board has committed an initial $125 million to support AAPI organizations and causes over the next five years — the largest philanthropic commitment in history by Asian Americans fully focused on supporting AAPIs. In addition, TAAF announced it had already raised an additional $125 million through its AAPI Giving Challenge.
At today’s launch event, TAAF’s President, Sonal Shah, and its Board Chair, Li Lu, were joined by a cohort of leading policymakers, journalists, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and civil rights advocates committed to helping AAPI communities build power for itself and improve AAPI representation across industries. TAAF’s event opened with remarks from former President Bill Clinton, former President George W. Bush, and former President Barack Obama:
“This new organization will address the longstanding lack of investment and resources dedicated to the AAPI community. I know that TAAF will help to amplify the important work already being done to stop AAPI hate, and help to fill in the gaps where we can and must be doing more,” said former President Bill Clinton. He continued, “I’m confident this launch marks the beginning of something truly extraordinary as we come together to create greater opportunity and prosperity in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”
Former President George W. Bush said, “This is a period when we all need to examine our souls and ask how we can do a better job caring for our fellow Americans. When we see anyone being harassed, bullied, or mistreated, we need to step up and defend against what I see as a decidedly un-American sentiment. And TAAF is doing just that.”
Former President Barack Obama said, “As the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the country, it’s clear that if America’s going to continue to succeed, the AAPI community needs to succeed too. What’s also clear is that throughout our history, we haven’t always treated Asian American and Pacific Islanders the way they should’ve been treated. It’s a dark stain on our history. And we need to be clear that attacks on Asian Americans are attacks on all of us.”
Sonal Shah, President of TAAF, spoke of TAAF’s future plans and why the organization moved quickly to mobilize and launch this month. She said, “We couldn't just wait; we had to accelerate and come to action quickly. This is why we are here today...It is our time to claim power, and it is our vision to claim power.”
Li Lu, Board Chair of TAAF, spoke of his personal experience coming to America and why he was moved to help create the foundation in the first place, “I was able to live the American dream because at it’s best, this nation does not define itself by geography, race, culture, or religion...My story is increasingly all too rare. Today. we are heartbroken to see the dream that brought me here shattered for the 23 million Asian American and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S. The wave of hate crimes we are seeing is un-American. Therefore, I was moved to join other leaders to co-found TAAF.”
TAAF’s “Claiming Power” event featured panels on belonging, coalition-building, and the foundation’s AAPI Giving Challenge, which aims to unlock resources for the AAPI community after being historically under-funded and under-resourced. AAPI Giving Challenge partners will work with TAAF to bring its mission and vision to life in the corporate sector and beyond, ensuring more funding, resources, and advocacy will flow to AAPI causes.
“TAAF is, I believe, the most important philanthropic intervention in this country to support the idea that the voices of Asian American Pacific Islanders have not been heard and need to be heard in our public discourse,” said President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker during a panel on the power of partnerships that was moderated by Stephanie Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company.
NowThis was the exclusive media partner for TAAF’s launch event and streamed it live on its Facebook and YouTube channels. To watch the event in full, please visit the TAAF YouTube channel.
About The Asian American Foundation
The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) is a convener, incubator, and funder committed to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for the AAPI community. TAAF supports the ecosystem of 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 the AAPI community — particularly as anti-AAPI hate and violence persist at alarming rates. 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 across the United States. For additional information about TAAF, please visit www.taaf.org.
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