Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG)

Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG)

Although remote with a population of 770,000 people, Alaska has an incredible amount of linguistic diversity that often goes unrecognized and is undervalued. AKPIRG has been working tirelessly to change this. Anchorage, Alaska alone has the most linguistically diverse school district in the country. Additionally, in Alaska there are 21

Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG)

Although remote with a population of 770,000 people, Alaska has an incredible amount of linguistic diversity that often goes unrecognized and is undervalued. AKPIRG has been working tirelessly to change this. Anchorage, Alaska alone has the most linguistically diverse school district in the country. Additionally, in Alaska there are 21 official languages of the state–20 of them are Alaska Native languages, and the other one is English. Under our current Executive Director’s leadership, AKPIRG’s first project was to establish a Language Access team and translate the Census into Alaska Native languages, for the first time ever. Additionally, AKPIRG worked with immigration and refugee organizations to successfully advocate for translating Census information into an additional 11 languages including Korean, Hmong and Samoan. From there, we have worked on multiple projects, from COVID-19 vaccines, to voting, to making sure consumers know their rights when debt collectors call. We have deep, trusted relationships across linguistic communities and organizations who work to celebrate Alaska’s linguistic diversity. AKPIRG, while not a part of the Filipino community, is invested in uplifting organizations who are led by and created for their communities. With funding, we hope to expand Kodiak and help train up Filipino supporting community members. With funding, we could expand further to do language access work on know-your-rights work in Hmong, Korean and Samoan languages for the 2030 Census. For this specific project, AKPIRG already has relationships with the Division of Election’s Language Assistance Division, and our project manager for the Kodiak Filipino voter engagement project is a part of the community she works within. Simply put, our work is important to us because we believe that voter participation is the voice for the needs of all people, who speak all languages, to be both seen and heard in our country. We work at good government and civic engagement to promote our rights to vote in the language we speak.

About the Organization:

Although remote with a population of 770,000 people, Alaska has an incredible amount of linguistic diversity that often goes unrecognized and is undervalued. AKPIRG has been working tirelessly to change this. Anchorage, Alaska alone has the most linguistically diverse school district in the country. Additionally, in Alaska there are 21 official languages of the state–20 of them are Alaska Native languages, and the other one is English. Under our current Executive Director’s leadership, AKPIRG’s first project was to establish a Language Access team and translate the Census into Alaska Native languages, for the first time ever. Additionally, AKPIRG worked with immigration and refugee organizations to successfully advocate for translating Census information into an additional 11 languages including Korean, Hmong and Samoan. From there, we have worked on multiple projects, from COVID-19 vaccines, to voting, to making sure consumers know their rights when debt collectors call. We have deep, trusted relationships across linguistic communities and organizations who work to celebrate Alaska’s linguistic diversity. AKPIRG, while not a part of the Filipino community, is invested in uplifting organizations who are led by and created for their communities. With funding, we hope to expand Kodiak and help train up Filipino supporting community members. With funding, we could expand further to do language access work on know-your-rights work in Hmong, Korean and Samoan languages for the 2030 Census. For this specific project, AKPIRG already has relationships with the Division of Election’s Language Assistance Division, and our project manager for the Kodiak Filipino voter engagement project is a part of the community she works within. Simply put, our work is important to us because we believe that voter participation is the voice for the needs of all people, who speak all languages, to be both seen and heard in our country. We work at good government and civic engagement to promote our rights to vote in the language we speak.

organizational budget

$500,000 - $1 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Alaska

organizational budget

$500,000 - $1 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

Alaska

The Issue:

While Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act is in effect, more often than not, inaccessibility to voting materials written in heritage languages exclude linguistic minorities in electoral processes. Kodiak island has a large population of people who speak Tagalog. To directly address this, through the translation of voting materials into Tagalog, AKPIRG is working to get out the Filipino, and Fil-Am, vote on the island of Kodiak, Alaska. We work to engage the civic voice of Alaskans and to make sure voices are uplifted, we work to ensure language accessibility. While AKPIRG works as an independent state-wide organization, and is not a part of the Tagalog speaking community, we see this opportunity to elevate the voices of people in our incredible state, at a time of need for all voices being heard. We will not let the chance slip by, but we need funding to take our project further. This year is a year of firsts: for the first time, ballots on Kodiak will be available in Tagalog. For the first time, Alaska will be using a Ranked-Choice Voting system. And for the first time, we have five elections in one year, including a surprise special election due to the death of our long-running Congressman Don Young. Voting has already started, and our next election will be in August. To assist the promotion of Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, we are working on the promotion of Tagalog language voting materials for this election. We have to move fast. We are engaging in a compliance monitoring protocol, and we also intend to stay in touch with election officials to make requests, help problem-solve, and provide information about requesting ballots in Tagalog. To do this, we have hired a project manager in Kodiak to help gather this information. We are prioritizing making connections in the community to affirm whether they successfully received voting materials and ballots in Tagalog.

The Solution:

Civic engagement is crucial to the protection of our democracy for all, and AKPIRG is strategically positioned for completion of this democratic project. We are already underway for this project and have a successful history of engaging in appropriate language translation to honor and promote Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. In partnership with Alaska Native Language speakers, we translated the 2020 Census into 7 Indigenous languages for the first time ever. We also translated health related messages around Covid-19 safety, community health and the vaccine into 7 Alaska Native Languages. What was special about this project was undoubtedly the language panels of elders and language speakers who translated the messages from their heritage language into English, making it culturally appropriate as well as linguistically and grammatically correct. In partnership with another organization, we are currently working on language translation protocols for language experts, organizations, and government agencies to have when considering (or not considering) creating materials in languages other than English. These protocols are meant to be respectful of both the language and unique culture in which the language is spoken. We believe that speaking one's heritage language should be a viable profession, and that everyone’s culture should be uplifted and valued. Our current project to translate voting materials into Tagalog is no exception. To complete this Tagalog speaker voter engagement, our project manager, who is a core member of the Filipino American Association of Kodiak, will host community gatherings, talk with community members at events, share educational information during lunch breaks at the seafood canneries in town, and work with Kodiak Filipino community organizations to share information as she finds appropriate. We intend to provide information regarding the voter registration, poll worker registration, ranked choice voting information, and more via the visual aids of local flyers and stickers to promote voting in Tagalog, both offered locally and free of charge. For virtual promotion, we intend to send emails, and make social media posts close to key voting dates specifically regarding our Tagalog speaker voter engagement in partnership with the Filipino American Association in Kodiak.

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