The month of May marks the anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the United States in 1843, and the completion, in 1869, of the first transcontinental railroad across the United States. The railroad’s western section was built by a majority-Chinese immigrant workforce, under dangerous and inequitable working conditions. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month commemorates the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched and shaped America’s history.
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in New York City, and the umbrella term Asian American includes tremendous diversity—representing more than 30 different ethnic groups that speak more than 50 languages. You can support the region’s many AAPI communities by giving to groups that are addressing the surge in violent hate crimes targeting AAPI New Yorkers, advocating for immigrant and workers’ rights, and uplifting AAPI artists and cultures.
Advocating for Safety and Justice
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans, and a rise in anti-immigrant harassment and bias. These groups are advocating for stronger protections for workers, tenants, and immigrants, and helping to prevent violence through training and educational campaigns.
The Asian American Federation, made up of 70 member groups, is a leadership organization for the pan-Asian community of New York. It advocates for justice and increased opportunities in areas such as immigrant integration, mental health, economic development, and civic engagement. It has also organized safety trainings and awareness campaigns to develop community responses to violence targeting Asian New Yorkers.
Chhaya promotes the power, housing stability, and economic well-being of the city’s South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities through immigration legal services and advocacy for affordable housing and immigrants’ rights. Based in Queens, it has established tenants’ associations for immigrant communities and helped them respond to discrimination and harassment by unscrupulous landlords.
Damayan Migrant Workers Association is an immigrant-led organization working to eliminate labor trafficking and advocate for other human rights protections, especially for Filipino women and domestic workers. In addition to providing its members with leadership development and direct services (such as immigration support and family reunification), it conducts bilingual safety and self-defense trainings in partnership with other anti-violence community groups.
The Domestic Harmony Foundation supports the social, emotional, and psychological needs of South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Muslim survivors of domestic violence on Long Island. Its services include counseling and support groups, referrals to legal and financial services, and cultural sensitivity trainings for other community organizations and government agencies.
Uplifting Arts and Culture
Just as stories rooted in false stereotypes can fuel racist sentiment, powerful performance, imagery, and words can counter it. Many arts and cultural groups are amplifying the diverse perspectives and experiences of Asian Americans; here are a few we have recently supported through our grants program. You can help them increase their visibility to support more artists, foster solidarity with other underrepresented groups, and deliver creative work to wider audiences.
The Asian American Arts Alliance works toward the equitable, accurate, and nuanced representation of AAPI communities. It sustains the development of AAPI artists and cultural groups in the city through advocacy for arts workers, as a key convener of AAPI cultural groups, and through fellowship and regranting programs (including several Trust-supported awards for young and emerging AAPI dance, theater, and music artists).
Kundiman nurtures writers and readers of Asian American literature. Through an annual writers’ retreat, mentorship programs, workshops, and readings, it connects readers to Asian American literature, advances the careers of AAPI writers, and seeks to establish solidarity with other underrepresented groups and writers of color.
Ma-Yi Theater Company was originally founded to support the development of new plays engaging with the Filipino American experience. Today, it is a leading incubator for new works by Asian American playwrights of all origins, shaping conversations about what it means to be Asian American today. It provides peer-based workshops to help nurture early- and mid-career playwrights and encourages them to produce innovative plays that challenge popular perceptions of Asian American theater.
This list is not exhaustive. There are many incredible nonprofits helping to make our city a better place for all; we are highlighting a few that may not be on your radar, but please reach out to our philanthropic advising department at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like recommendations tailored to your charitable goals.