East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)

East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)

ECAASU’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in Asian and Asian American (Asian/American) issues. Founded in 1977 as an Annual Conference, ECAASU became an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit with year-long programming and a National Board in 2008. ECAASU is an entirely volunteer-led organization run by students and young

East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU)

ECAASU’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in Asian and Asian American (Asian/American) issues. Founded in 1977 as an Annual Conference, ECAASU became an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit with year-long programming and a National Board in 2008. ECAASU is an entirely volunteer-led organization run by students and young leaders across the East Coast. In 2020, ECAASU strategically aligned our vision and priorities to create organizational values: accessibility, community engagement, education, and intra- and inter-community solidarity. In naming these affirmative statements - rather than simply stating structural oppressions we oppose - ECAASU sought to integrate political education, advocacy, and mobilization in all of our programming as we dream and create a more whole future. The ECAASU Annual Conference serves as our hallmark program, bringing together students and young people with a shared passion for addressing issues and eliminating injustices within and across our Asian/American communities. Throughout the year, we facilitate student-facing programs including Campus Summits and a High School Program. We strive to introduce young people across the East Coast to the landscape of Asian/American organizing and help them develop skills to connect with movements in their local areas. ECAASU envisions itself as a stepping stone between student leadership at universities and the larger arena of movement work, and our commitment to our mission and our growth is evident through our adaptation and resilience in our many eras of existence.

About the Organization:

ECAASU’s mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in Asian and Asian American (Asian/American) issues. Founded in 1977 as an Annual Conference, ECAASU became an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit with year-long programming and a National Board in 2008. ECAASU is an entirely volunteer-led organization run by students and young leaders across the East Coast. In 2020, ECAASU strategically aligned our vision and priorities to create organizational values: accessibility, community engagement, education, and intra- and inter-community solidarity. In naming these affirmative statements - rather than simply stating structural oppressions we oppose - ECAASU sought to integrate political education, advocacy, and mobilization in all of our programming as we dream and create a more whole future. The ECAASU Annual Conference serves as our hallmark program, bringing together students and young people with a shared passion for addressing issues and eliminating injustices within and across our Asian/American communities. Throughout the year, we facilitate student-facing programs including Campus Summits and a High School Program. We strive to introduce young people across the East Coast to the landscape of Asian/American organizing and help them develop skills to connect with movements in their local areas. ECAASU envisions itself as a stepping stone between student leadership at universities and the larger arena of movement work, and our commitment to our mission and our growth is evident through our adaptation and resilience in our many eras of existence.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

31+ YEARS

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

California

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

31+ YEARS

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

California

The Issue:

At predominantly white institutions, Asian/American students feel isolated, unsupported, and overlooked. Institutional administrations fulfill bare-minimum asks to appear diverse, without considering structural oppressions that perpetuate discrimination and violence against students with traditionally marginalized identities. Professors believe in the model minority myth; institutional data continues to be aggregated; Affirmative Action is under attack; Asian/American Studies programs are nonexistent or understaffed. All the while, Asian/American students are left to fight and labor for space, recognition, and resources - feeling alone, harmed, and overworked. Students approaching graduation often look to bridge their on-campus student groups to “the real world,” to learn about issue organizing, nonprofits, and advocacy. Some volunteer a few hours a week, others intern for a summer, while others dream of taking the leap to full-time employment in Asian/American nonprofits. We know there exist a myriad of resources and organizations for young Asian/Americans to learn and engage in our current movement work. But for many, the problem is, it’s hard to know how to start and how to find a good fit. These issues are exemplified through the story of one leader in ECAASU. This student, an Asian American adoptee, attended a PWI on the East Coast. Their school did not have an Asian/American studies program nor institutional support for students of color, and the existing student-led campus organizations felt exclusionary to those without “traditional” Asian/American life experiences. Turning to ECAASU, this student participated in the Annual Conference, Campus Summits, and eventually joined the Leadership Team. Within ECAASU, they grew comfortable in their belonging in the Asian/American diaspora, deepened their knowledge of history, and connected their life experiences to politicization and ongoing issues within the greater movement. In turn, this student brought back frameworks and ideas for change to their PWI; since their time in ECAASU, this person has worked with multiple Asian/American nonprofits across the East Coast. As evident from this person’s narrative, ECAASU continues to address these issues of isolation and disempowerment for Asian/American students and young leaders across the East Coast.

The Solution:

ECAASU acts as a bridge for students and young leaders searching for a political home and accessible entryway to movement work, where individuals are able to bring their full selves and identities front and center. From first-years in high school to recent college graduates, ECAASU provides a radical place to land, and provides skillshares, theoretical frameworks and praxis resources, political education, networking opportunities. All program participants have opportunities for engagement, including year-round programs and our Annual Conference. Within our Leadership Team, individuals have flexibility and agency to contribute as much as they choose, with minimal mandatory requirements and year-round support, because we exclusively operate on a volunteer basis. We achieve these goals through our programs and through intentional investment in the development of our Leadership Team: Annual Conference: Every spring, our Annual Conference is hosted in collaboration with an Asian/American-led campus organization at their institution. Reaching hundreds of students from across the East Coast, this hallmark program features a weekend of keynote speakers, interactive workshops, networking, local vendors, and relationship building. Campus Summits: Throughout the academic year, campus organizations work with us to create and host one-day mini-conferences, creating dialogue about issues that are important to the students and hyper-local community of the institution. Student leaders collaborate with our Leadership Team to envision and strategize workshops, speakers, and activities for participants to learn and take action towards change in their communities. High School Program: ECAASU facilitates a multi-month curriculum for high school students interested in Asian/American history, issues, and politicization. Beginning with workshops on the creation of the term “Asian American” and ending with a capstone project (which varies year-to-year, but has included Zines, Workshop Facilitation, and Art Projects), high school students are introduced to movement work, provided opportunities for involvement in Asian/American spaces, and supported in college application processes and skill development. Leadership Team: The ECAASU leadership team invests in our internal learning and development. For example, members share knowledge on leadership skills (eg: best practices for civic engagement and rapid mobilization), facilitate workshops on historical and contemporary issues (eg: Adoptee Citizenship Act), and network across movement spaces.

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