Kundiman, Inc

Kundiman, Inc

Founded in 2004, Kundiman is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. We create an affirming and rigorous space where Asian American writers can explore, through art, the unique challenges of the new and ever-changing diaspora. We see the arts as

Kundiman, Inc

Founded in 2004, Kundiman is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. We create an affirming and rigorous space where Asian American writers can explore, through art, the unique challenges of the new and ever-changing diaspora. We see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively our legacy to future generations. We empower Asian American artists through our core values: Generosity, Courage, and Inclusion. Through Generosity, we cultivate a familial spirit within our organization and act as coalition builders with others who share our commitment to literary excellence and equity. We encourage abundance by honoring the emotional and creative resources that we offer each other. Through Courage, we foster the role of the artist as a vital voice on the prevailing issues of our global society. We believe in the artist as critic and illuminator and strive to be on the forefront of how writers are changing in the 21st century. Through Inclusion, we implement artistic programs that act as a portal to discourse for communities that most need support. We recognize the many identities and lineages that fall under the umbrella of Asian American. Our programs welcome readers and writers of any age, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. For 19 years, Kundiman has interrupted the underrepresentation of Asian American voices. We strive to continue transforming the American literary landscape through mentorship, community-building, and innovative national programming.

About the Organization:

Founded in 2004, Kundiman is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. We create an affirming and rigorous space where Asian American writers can explore, through art, the unique challenges of the new and ever-changing diaspora. We see the arts as a tool of empowerment, of education and liberation, of addressing proactively our legacy to future generations. We empower Asian American artists through our core values: Generosity, Courage, and Inclusion. Through Generosity, we cultivate a familial spirit within our organization and act as coalition builders with others who share our commitment to literary excellence and equity. We encourage abundance by honoring the emotional and creative resources that we offer each other. Through Courage, we foster the role of the artist as a vital voice on the prevailing issues of our global society. We believe in the artist as critic and illuminator and strive to be on the forefront of how writers are changing in the 21st century. Through Inclusion, we implement artistic programs that act as a portal to discourse for communities that most need support. We recognize the many identities and lineages that fall under the umbrella of Asian American. Our programs welcome readers and writers of any age, gender, sexual orientation, and ability. For 19 years, Kundiman has interrupted the underrepresentation of Asian American voices. We strive to continue transforming the American literary landscape through mentorship, community-building, and innovative national programming.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

16-20 YEARS

The Issue:

Today’s literary community needs a national organization to support, nurture, and champion Asian American voices. Asian Americans are the fastest growing minority in the US, yet we remain underrepresented in the arts, at only 2.2% of the NYC artist population. According to a 2020 article by the New York Times, 89% of books published by major publishing houses were written by white writers. Asian American communities share an urgent need to increase the visibility of our own narratives. A 2020 Slover Linett report found that AAPIs expressed the greatest desire of all racial groups surveyed for programs that center “stories or content that connect to my life.” Additionally, many Asian American writers come from lineages that include war, torture, colonization, and cultural isolation—contributing to greater mental health issues. Data collected from the National Latino & Asian American Study (NLAAS) found that Asian Americans have a 17.30 percent overall lifetime rate of any psychiatric disorder, three times that of their white peers. In 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, ages 15 to 24, and only 8.6% of Asian Americans sought any type of mental health services or resource compared to nearly 18% of the general population nationwide. These mental health issues have been impacted by the rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and an unequal distribution of resources, exacerbating the systemic violences that Asian American communities continue to endure. COVID-19 has been devastating to the Asian American community. STOP AAPI HATE has recorded more than 11,000 incidents of harassment and assault against Asian Americans since March 31, 2020. Kundiman’s legacy as an advocate for Asian American writers allows us to respond comprehensively to these issues of representation, while addressing the personal and collective struggles brought on by the pandemic and rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Through our programming, Asian American writers can respond to the precise challenges of our current moment in an environment tailored specifically to their artistic and cultural needs.

The Solution:

Kundiman fulfills the needs of the Asian American literary arts community through three main programs: the Retreat, Online Classes, and Readings & Panels. Our signature 5-day Retreat supports 36 emerging Asian American writers as they hone their craft, develop as professionals, and participate in a close-knit artistic community. 18 new and 18 returning Fellows participate in craft classes, seminars on professionalization and Asian American literary history, and one-on-one mentorship sessions with distinguished faculty. The Retreat is the only one of its kind for Asian American writers, offering a welcoming space to generate new work and a community of mentors that extends long past the workshop. Designed in 2020 in response to the pandemic, Kundiman’s Online Classes offer inspiration and guidance to writers. 8-week workshops are limited to 12 students to create intimate connections. 3-hour craft classes are open to an unlimited number of writers, in response to our community’s need for culturally competent instruction. Scholarships are also available for each Online Class. These classes attract a wide swath of writers interested in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and food writing. Kundiman also amplifies Asian American voices through our free Readings & Panels, online, throughout NYC, and across the country through our 10 Regional Groups. Kundiman partners locally with community organizations and other organizations representing Black, Latinx, Arab, & Native writers, building important coalitions through collaboration. These events are vital for connecting new audiences to Asian American literature, advancing the careers of writers, and creating spaces for intergenerational exchange. To address the mental health needs of our community, Kundiman has adopted a trauma-informed approach to our Retreat and Online Classes. With our Mental Health consultant, we have built organizational systems to foster spaces for processing individual and collective traumas. Many Fellows, in our feedback forms, find that Kundiman is a place where they are able to engage with questions of race and craft in the company of other Asian Americans, something many have not had experience with prior to becoming Fellows. Through our programs, Kundiman is creating a vital, nurturing space for Asian American writers to thrive.

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