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May 22, 2023 | Insights

Building Asian American and Pacific Islander Leadership and Advocacy

The 2020 Census revealed that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are among the fastest growing population groups in the United States. One striking figure from the data shows that the number of Asian Americans grew 40 percent between the census counts in 2010 and 2020, to a record 24 million individuals. This increase means that Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the US. The diversity of this community was also highlighted in a recent Pew Research Center report, the largest study of its kind about the Asian American community in the United States. However, issues such as underrepresentation in civic leadership and the underfunding of AAPI-serving organizations from philanthropies stand in the way of the AAPI community having full and fair access to institutions and resources.

This AAPI Heritage Month, we’re sharing some leadership development programs and supports from around the country that build the capacity of the people serving their communities.

Asian American Women’s Political Initiative

The Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI) is a political leadership organization focused on preparing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. Their mission is to ensure that AAPI women have a voice in our democracy. For over a decade, AAWPI has been building the political pipeline of low-income and immigrant Asian American women leaders in Massachusetts. Over 90% of their alumni have gone on to volunteer or work on campaigns, become organizers and advocates, or run for office.


Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute

The Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute promotes the leadership of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) women in the public and private sectors by fostering the development of whole-person leaders. The institute invites participants share in the journey of being with other AANHPI woman leaders to rediscover what’s important to them and how they can enhance themselves in their roles within family, workplace, and community.



Founded in 1982, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics) is a national, nonprofit organization, with a mission to achieve full participation and equality for Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) through leadership, empowerment, and policy.

It started with a simple yet powerful idea: that in order for API communities to realize their full potential and to foster robust participation in this increasingly globalized world, these communities would have to begin producing leaders who could advocate and speak on their behalf.


Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow

EPIC (Empowering Pacific Islander Communities) develops leadership through its Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow (PILOT) program. This community-focused program was created to increase the number of emerging leaders in the Pacific Islander community.  PILOT consists of four components: Summer Institute, Semester Sessions, Forward Movement Projects, and Internships.


The Asian Community Fund at The Boston Foundation

The Asian Community Fund at the Boston Foundation is a permanent resource designed to develop, strengthen and support Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community power in Massachusetts, to galvanize and unite the diverse ethnicities within this community, and to build a stronger advocacy voice. The Fund seeks to advocate for equal access to all aspects of our society and collaborate with other communities of color and oppressed communities to build collective strengths to overcome injustice and racism.


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