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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and when we asked some of our AAPI staff members for ideas on what to highlight on social media, we got so many resources we decided to collect them in a guide for our website! Whether you’re looking to learn more about AAPI history, find a local organization to partner with, or are curious about any particular challenges faced by the AAPI community, we hope this guide can get you started.

Local AAPI Orgs

  • ADOPT (Resource List): A think-tank serving Asian Americans with disabilities, they have collected a wealth of resources for needs all across AAPI communities.
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice: The Chicago affiliate of the national organization builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Some of their noteworthy aims include voter empowerment and bystander intervention training. 
  • Asian Human Services – Serving Chicago’s Immigrants & Underserved: Since its beginnings in 1978, Asian Human Services (“AHS”) has delivered on a singular purpose: to ensure that every immigrant and refugee across Chicagoland has access to personalized support and services necessary to become prosperous members of society. 
  • Apna Ghar: Apna Ghar is a human rights organization working to end gender violence with an evidence-based model that factors in macro and micro level conditions that create the unique barriers that their program participants face. Since 1990 they have reached more than 100,000 survivors and community members across the region. They are one of ChicagoCAC’s partner organizations and serve immigrant communities with a focus on AAPI issues. 
  • Chinese American Service League: For over 40 years, the Chinese American Service League’s (CASL) comprehensive programs have connected families and individuals in the Chicago Chinese community and beyond with the vital support they need: providing an educational and cultural foundation for our children, ensuring our seniors live full and independent lives with dignity, enhancing education and training for tomorrow’s workforce, putting immigrants on the pathway to citizenship, securing our community’s housing and financial well-being, and providing all with equal access to justice.
  • Indo-American Center: The Indo American Center (IAC) addresses the needs of South Asian immigrants as well as people from more than thirty nations over the world. IAC provides services that facilitate their adjustment, integration, and friendship with the wider society, nurture their sense of community, and foster appreciation for the diversity of culture and heritage.
  • KAN-WIN: KAN-WIN’S mission is to eradicate gender-based violence, including domestic violence and sexual assault, especially for women and children across Asian American communities and beyond through culturally competent services, community engagement, and advocacy.
  • Muslim Women Resource Center: The Muslim Women Resource Center’s mission is to assist immigrant and refugee Muslim women and their families in overcoming cultural and language barriers, while empowering them with the appropriate occupational skills for them to become self-sufficient and ready to enter the job market.

AAPI Mental Health Resources

  • Asian Mental Health Collective: The Asian Mental Health Collective aspires to make mental health easily available, approachable, and accessible to Asian communities worldwide. 
  • Asian Health Coalition: Over the past 20 years, the Asian Health Coalition has aimed to eliminate health disparities among Asian, Pacific Islander, African, and other communities of color by utilizing a collaborative partnership approach to support the development and implementation of culturally and linguistically appropriate health programs and initiatives.  
  • Midwest Asian Health Association: MAHA’s community mental health clinic promotes public awareness about mental health problems in Asian American populations and provides community support, counseling services, and therapy.  
  • Mental Health America page on AAPI issues: a great and thoughtful introduction to a wide variety of considerations AAPI people may face when it comes to mental health from a trusted national organization. 

LGBTQ-focused AAPI Organization: NQAPIA, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), is a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. They seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBT AAPI groups, develop leadership, promote visibility, educate our community, enhance grassroots organizing, expand collaborations, and challenge anti-LGBTQ bias and racism.

AAPI Media: Asian Americans | PBS (free to watch on Prime until May 31st) is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series casts a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

AAPI Folks of Note:

Senator Tammy Duckworth: Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During her time in Iraq, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and she lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. In 2018, after Duckworth became the first Senator to give birth while serving in office, she secured a historic rules change that allows Senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor. Duckworth is fluent in Thai and Indonesian.

Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz: The current representative for 17th District of the Illinois House, Gong-Gershowitz is the granddaughter of Chinese immigrants who fought deportation under the Chinese Exclusion Acts. She recently co-sponsored the TEAACH Act, which would add Asian-American History to the Illinois School code. 

Beverly Kim: Kim is the James Beard Award-winning owner and chef at Chicago restaurants Parachute and Wherewithall, who in the wake of the recent violence created #DoughSomething, a social media campaign to raise awareness and funds for Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Kim also started a non-profit group called The Abundance Setting during the pandemic to help working moms in the culinary industry.  

Rep. Theresa Mah: The current representative for the 2nd district of the Illinois House, Mah made history in 2016 when she became the first Asian American elected to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. Representative Mah is a former college professor with a Ph.D. in modern American history and teaching experience in history, ethnic studies, and Asian American studies. She serves on the Committees on K-12 Education Appropriations, Environmental Justice, and Health Care Licenses, among others. 

Josina Morita: Morita is a Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and is the first Asian-American elected to a countywide board in Cook County.  She’s also the chair of the Illinois Asian-American Caucus and has been participating in rallies protesting the recent violence.

State Senator Ram Villivalam: Raised on the northwest side of Chicago and the son of Indian Immigrants. Currently representing the 8th District in the Illinois State Senate, Villavalam is the first Asian American elected to the Illinois State Senate and the first Indian American elected to the Illinois General Assembly. He is currently the Chair of the Transportation Committee and also sits on the Energy and Public Utilities, Health Care Access and Availability, Human Rights, Licensed Activities and Pensions Committees.

Sheryl WuDunn: The first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, WuDunn is a business executive and best-selling author of Half the Sky, a vital guide to learning about women’s issues all over the world. 

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