Indian American-headed Asian American Foundation raises more than $1 billion for community

Just two weeks into its existence, the Newly-formed Asian American Foundation, TAAF, established with high profile leaders and celebrities, announced that it is committing more than $1 billion “To serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their pursuit of belonging and prosperity that is free from discrimination, slander, and violence.”

May 24, 2021
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Sonal Shah, a professor at Georgetown University

Just two weeks into its existence, the Newly-formed Asian American Foundation, TAAF, established with high profile leaders and celebrities, announced that it is committing more than $1 billion “To serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their pursuit of belonging and prosperity that is free from discrimination, slander, and violence.” 

The organization’s president is Sonal Shah, a professor at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, and a former Obama Administration official who also headed Google’s Global Development Initiatives in the past.  Among the many Indian-American organizations that are working with TAAF, is a California-based nonprofit, the South Asian Network (SAN) which began a fundraiser via the Give In May campaign sponsored by Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and the Asian American Foundation in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Through Its “AAPI Giving Challenge,” a five-year commitment, TAAF has raised this support for AAPI organizations and causes, thanks to philanthropic, corporate, and individual partners, said a press release from the organization, News India Times reported. 

The impressive list of big-name supporters includes in the ‘individual’ category Raj and Reena Agrawal.

Leaders of TAAF, and its Advisory Council members, briefed President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House May 20, on their plans to provide increased resources to AAPI communities.

The organization said it has raised nearly $1.1 billion as part of the “AAPI Giving Challenge”, building upon an initial commitment from the TAAF board of $125 million announced on May 3rd, which was already the largest philanthropic commitment in history fully focused on supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

According to TAAF, AAPI communities have historically been severely underfunded, receiving less than 0.5% of charitable giving.

“TAAF was founded to close critical gaps of support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and end the longstanding underinvestment in our communities. Today’s historic announcement should send a clear signal to the 23 million AAPIs living in this country that TAAF and our AAPI Giving Challenge partners are here to upend the status quo in favor of a better, brighter future for AAPI communities,” Shah is quoted saying in the press release.

“The AAPI Giving Challenge was created to invite other funders, leaders, and philanthropists to the table to help TAAF advance our mission, and we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received in such a short period of time. It’s amazing to know that we are not alone in wanting to help lift up AAPI communities. In fact, there’s a long list of organizations and people who are joining us in saying enough is enough — the time for change is now,” Shah added.

Shah and members of TAAF’s Board attended a meeting at the White House May 20, afternoon to discuss their commitment to AAPI communities, briefing Biden-Harris administration officials on their plans to deploy the committed resources across the foundation’s three priority investment areas: combating anti-AAPI hate, data and research, and education.

At the White House, they also discussed the importance of business, philanthropy, and nonprofits working together for change.

Members of TAAF’s Advisory Council, including Daniel Dae Kim and Lisa Ling joined the meeting virtually, as did some of the foundation and corporate partners that made contributions to the fundraiser, including representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, MacArthur Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Mastercard, Bain & Company, and sweetgreen.

Representatives of TAAF met with White House Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond, Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, and Deputy Assistant to the President and AAPI Senior Liaison Erika Moritsugu. President Biden and Vice President Harris dropped by the meeting to express their support for TAAF and solidarity with the AAPI community.

A full list of TAAF’s AAPI Giving Challenge partners are listed on its website, taaf.org, and they include leading foundations and corporations, as well as individual donors. Partners either pledged contributions to the $1 billion raised so far through the AAPI Giving Challenge, or they made in-kind commitments to support AAPI communities with TAAF’s help. Some of the money raised will go into TAAF, though the vast majority will go directly to AAPI communities. In some cases, TAAF will advise its AAPI Giving Challenge partners on how best to deploy their financial commitments. In addition, TAAF is also asking its corporate partners to prioritize AAPIs in their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agendas.

The Asian American Foundation describes itself as “a convener, incubator, and funder committed to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for AAPI communities,” and building infrastructures that effectively take action against hate and violence, and advocate for the communities.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 continues to take a toll on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, SAN said in a press release, including hate crimes and violence.

Zainab Syeda, SAN interim executive director, said in a press release that the organization aims to raise $10,000, NIT said. (SAM)

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