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OUR MISSION & VISION Our mission is to create a more inclusive community by uplifting the varied experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, advocating for AAPI rights and representation, and promoting awareness and education around AAPI culture and history. We envision a future where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders--and all historically marginalized communities--thrive in a just and liberated society. OUR STORY Following the rise of anti-Asian hate around the country, our co-founders convened to address incidents within public schools. Our organization has expanded to include: advocacy at the state and local level, events to promote cultural awareness and understanding, statewide educational initiatives, and resources to empower AAPI community members. Through our work, we hope to encourage structural change in New Jersey, build solidarity, and fight for equity for all oppressed groups, while celebrating AAPI cultures. OUR VALUES Inclusion and Belonging: We are committed to being an anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-transphobic, anti-oppression, anti-misogynistic, and anti-Islamophobic organization. We condemn anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ+ hate in all forms, and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Community: We understand the power of partnerships and mutual aid, and work with organizations who have a shared vision of creating an equitable and inclusive future. Diversity: “AAPI” can be both a unifying and erasing term. We aim to celebrate the various communities, cultures, and heritages that live under the “AAPI'' umbrella term, including multi-heritage individuals and transracial adoptees and families. Justice: Our society must be just, democratic, and advocate equal opportunity for all.
About the Organization:
$100,000 - $500,000
There are currently 1.05 million residents of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent in New Jersey, comprising 11% of the State’s total population, the 4th-highest percentage in the nation. AAPIs are the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group and voting population in New Jersey and the nation. Despite our community’s expansive growth and development, AAPI New Jerseyans, of whom 30% are Limited English Proficient, are often overlooked and misunderstood, facing high rates of isolation and bias incidents, which rose 87% in 2021. Many AAPI communities are fighting the harmful impact of the model minority myth, which prevents our needs from being accurately recognized, understood, and addressed. Despite these needs and barriers, AAPIs in New Jersey lack services and resources tailored for them, with few AAPI-focused organizations and services compared to other states with similarly sized AAPI populations. A 2021 study by the Reflective Democracy Campaign found that AAPIs hold just 2% of statewide offices, a level of underrepresentation that contributes to lack of state funding for the AAPI community and slow movement on policies including language access, data disaggregation, and immigration rights. In New Jersey schools, too, reports from families across the state indicate that AAPI students face high rates of discrimination and bias incidents, yet are frequently overlooked in conversations about diversity and equity. AAPI students have been subjected to physical attacks, insulting questions, name-calling, and lunch-shaming by fellow students, in addition to everyday microaggressions such as face blindness and model minority stereotyping, with devastating consequences for their mental health. One Filipina American who grew up in central Jersey recalled being egged nearly every day on her walk home from school by boys who would yell at her to “go back where she came from,” a state of affairs that she at the time accepted as inevitable. In the face of growing anti-Asian violence and the traumatic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately impact AAPI New Jerseyans, our community can no longer be overlooked and under-resourced.
As Kal Penn says, being from Jersey “is like a superpower sometimes - you’ve just gotta know when to use it.” AAPI Montclair activates the power of New Jersey’s pan-Asian community to sow the seeds of generational change. Teach Asian American Stories: To help realize the promise of New Jersey’s AAPI curriculum mandate, we formed Teach Asian American Stories to connect districts with the professional development and curricular materials they need. TAAS is a trusted consultant to district leaders who are looking for customized support, offering grants to ensure cost is not a barrier. To build the pipeline of facilitators who can provide professional development, we recently launched the TAAS Fellowship program, training a cohort of exceptional teachers under the guidance of an established scholar of Asian American history. Our innovative Love Your Lunch campaign empowers educators to fight the lunch-shaming experienced by children who bring culturally diverse foods to school. Cultural Awareness and Understanding: Our large-format public events, including celebrations of Lunar New Year and Diwali attended by thousands, fight ignorance and invisibility by inviting everyone to participate in and learn about AAPI cultures. We partner with New Jersey cultural institutions to reclaim our narratives by lifting up AAPI authors and artists . Advocacy, Anti-Hate Work, and Civic Engagement:
We have been a leader in piloting community-centered anti-violence and civic engagement strategies, including safe zone building through our “Stop Asian Hate” campaign, bystander trainings, self-defense classes , get out the vote drives, and services from volunteer attorneys in case management and victim support. We work with other communities to advocate on issues such as voting rights and language access. We have been a part of several coalitions and were the first AAPI group to join a statewide campaign advocating for reparations for slavery . Youth Programs: We created a winning formula for social-emotional learning workshops for AAPI youth, pairing activities such as dumpling-making with discussions with AAPI mental health professionals on topics including identity, conflict resolution, and intergenerational communication. Mental Health Programs: For adults, we offer workshops on how to find a mental health provider ; group therapy circles; and therapeutic book clubs .