Asian Girls Ignite

Asian Girls Ignite

Asian Girls Ignite (AGI) is an educational nonprofit organization proudly serving AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth in grades 6-12 across Colorado. We’re all about celebrating our students’ unique spark and how they light up the world!

Asian Girls Ignite

Asian Girls Ignite (AGI) is an educational nonprofit organization proudly serving AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth in grades 6-12 across Colorado. We’re all about celebrating our students’ unique spark and how they light up the world! At AGI, we know your story is your power. To show you why, let’s start by sharing a story about our founders: Joanne Liu and Mehgan Yen. Despite growing up on opposite sides of the US, they both faced similar challenges growing up as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls. In middle school, Mehgan endured relentless bullying for “looking like a dragon.” And in high school, Joanne was told by a friend, “Sometimes I forget that you’re Asian.” These experiences sparked a vision in their hearts — a world where every AAPI girl and gender-expansive youth has the space to see the powerful light within them. That’s why they founded AGI in October 2020. Our programs are designed to connect students with transformative experiences led by inspiring AAPI women storytellers. They create learning opportunities for students to form flourishing friendships, celebrate their identities, and ignite their power. Our programs include Middle School, High School, Outdoors, and Summer.

About the Organization:

Asian Girls Ignite (AGI) is an educational nonprofit organization proudly serving AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth in grades 6-12 across Colorado. We’re all about celebrating our students’ unique spark and how they light up the world! At AGI, we know your story is your power. To show you why, let’s start by sharing a story about our founders: Joanne Liu and Mehgan Yen. Despite growing up on opposite sides of the US, they both faced similar challenges growing up as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) girls. In middle school, Mehgan endured relentless bullying for “looking like a dragon.” And in high school, Joanne was told by a friend, “Sometimes I forget that you’re Asian.” These experiences sparked a vision in their hearts — a world where every AAPI girl and gender-expansive youth has the space to see the powerful light within them. That’s why they founded AGI in October 2020. Our programs are designed to connect students with transformative experiences led by inspiring AAPI women storytellers. They create learning opportunities for students to form flourishing friendships, celebrate their identities, and ignite their power. Our programs include Middle School, High School, Outdoors, and Summer.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

0-5 Years

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

National • Pennsylvania

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

0-5 Years

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

National • Pennsylvania

The Issue:

There’s a narrative that AAPI girls and women are doing well and don’t need any help. While there’s some truth in that statement, it masks another reality that AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth face immense pressure to achieve. We’re expected to excel in academics, extracurriculars, leadership roles — basically, in every role imaginable. There is an extremely narrow definition of success for AAPI girls and women, which prevents us from having the space and freedom to explore our most authentic selves.
Unfortunately, the recent surge in anti-Asian hate compounds these expectations and can have a devastating impact on our mental health. Stop AAPI Hate reports that a staggering 68% of discrimination incidents reported between March 2020 and March 2021 specifically targeted women and girls. This statistic hits home even harder when we reflect on the tragic Atlanta spa shootings that happened during the same period. Out of the eight victims, six were Asian migrant women. These horrific acts highlight the persistent presence of harmful stereotypes surrounding AAPI women and girls, which can lead to fatal consequences.
Dealing with these daily challenges can make us feel lonely and isolated. It’s important to know that suicide is the leading cause of death among AAPI youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No other racial group faces this at the same rate. AAPI LGBTQIA+ youth face similarly alarming rates, with 40% seriously considering suicide, as reported by the Trevor Project in 2022. Teen girls also face high numbers, with 57% reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to CDC data. We must address these challenges promptly and provide support before more AAPI youth find themselves in these distressing situations.
The good news is that we have the power to change this reality. By creating safe spaces where AAPI girls and gender-expansive youth can simply exist in their joy and strength, we can shape a brighter future for ourselves and the world around us.

The Solution:

Asian Girls Ignite celebrates the powerful light within every AAPI girl and gender-expansive youth. We believe that light shines from their unique stories, which is why our programs connect students with transformative experiences led by inspiring AAPI women storytellers. Through our programs, students learn how to form flourishing friendships, celebrate their identities, and ignite their power. Our programs include:
  • Middle School. Students in grades 6-8 gather monthly to hear from phenomenal AAPI women. Madeline Dunhoff — a Japanese-Italian American chef who owns Taeko-San Takeout — shared stories of her grandma’s cherished mochi recipes and how the Japanese American incarceration camps impacted her family. But we aren’t just about storytelling — we also had a blast making mochi! Some students felt a deep connection to their family's traditions and experiences. It was a powerful celebration of unity and belonging.
  • High School. This program follows a similar format but is designed specifically for students in grades 9-12. Judge Neeti V. Pawar shared her story of overcoming microaggressions as an Indian American girl growing up in rural Illinois. This sparked meaningful conversations among students, enabling them to reflect upon their own experiences. We even had the chance to tour the Colorado Supreme Court to learn about the legal system.
  • Outdoors. Students connect with AAPI women storytellers who embrace their power in the great outdoors. They empower our students to do the same. Through activities like climbing, mountain biking, and camping, students develop practical skills and discover their resilience as individuals and as a collective.
  • Summer. This program combines all our programs into a week-long adventure. Students connect with a diverse cast of AAPI women storytellers to explore their identities. They also learn about the AAPI community in Colorado — its past, present, and future. The week ends with an overnight camping trip to reflect on their experiences.
We’re committed to amplifying the voices of underrepresented AAPI women, including adoptees, multiracial individuals, LGBTQIA+ folks, people with disabilities, and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders. This is because we want AGI to be a safe space where every student can feel seen, heard, empowered, and united.

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