© 2023 Gold Futures Challenge. All Rights Reserved.
OCA Greater Phoenix Chapter
OCA Greater Phoenix Chapter
OCA Greater Phoenix Chapter
OCA Greater Phoenix Chapter is a member-based organization, meaning that we innately have deep ties with the community around us. Our chapter has existed for almost 25 years, and OCA National, our parent organization, will be 50 years old next year. While OCA Greater Phoenix is independently funded and operated, we are able to access the resources of the national organization, without sacrificing the grassroots advocacy that lies at the heart of our operations. We have a long, established relationship with our community which continues to grow stronger, but now, more than ever, AAPIs need support from our organization and other organizations like us. OCA Greater Phoenix’s leadership is composed of people from a wide range of backgrounds, who were born and have worked all around the world. With a board composed of realtors, financial advisors, former political aides, doctors, parents, etc., all of whom are community leaders, we are able to provide our members with support in all areas of their life. All of our leadership is composed of people of color, who understand the urgent need for change and have the ability to lead their communities forward. The strength of our relationships with the AAPI community around us keeps us motivated and enables us to achieve our goals.
About the Organization:
$100,000 - $500,000
Despite the fact that Asians and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) make up 60% of the world’s population with 23 million living in the United States (UNFPA, 2022), AAPI diversity, history, culture, and experiences are vastly underrepresented and misunderstood in America. The AAPI community is veiled in stereotypes, such as the Model Minority and Perpetual Foreigner myths, blurring the lines between ethnic groups, and even between individuals (Blackburn, 2019; Bittle, 2013). The lack of AAPI visibility in American classrooms perpetuates this ignorance. When we are perceived as perpetual foreigners, we are assumed to have poor English and social skills. Under the model minority myth, AAPI are supposedly intelligent, independently successful, and living the American dream, while remaining docile, submissive, and tolerant of suffering. Rather than suffering in silence as a racial/ethnic monolith, AAPIs must embrace their diversity while advocating for change in solidarity. The need for AAPIs to exert their agency in society became abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the violence and hatred we have faced is not new (Japanese Incarceration, the murder of Vincent Chin, Chinese Exclusion Act, etc.) and the rights of minorities continue to be threatened, these events have been eye opening for many members of our community. While AAPIs are generally the group with the lowest voter turnout, the 2020 election demonstrated the power of the AAPI vote, where there was a 10% increase in turnout (Montanaro, 2021). In battleground states, this number was even higher with a 48% increase in turnout (Montanaro, 2021). We must seek to empower AAPI youth to shape their own futures and make sure that their voices are heard by teaching them how to advocate and engage their community. Bittle. 2013. I Am Asian American. Learning for Justice. https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/summer-2013/i-am-asian-american. Blackburn. 2019. What is the Model Minority Myth? Learning for Justice . https://www.learningforjustice.org/magazine/what-is-the-model-minority-myth. Montonaro. 2021. The Growing Power of the AAPI Vote, By the Numbers. NPR . https://www.npr.org/2021/05/22/999345393/the-growing-power-of-the-aapi-vote-by-the-numbers . UNFPA. 2022. Population Trends. UNFPA Asia and the Pacific. https://asiapacific.unfpa.org/en/populationtrends.
We take a holistic approach to our advocacy work by pursuing improvement in all areas of life for Arizona’s AAPI community. Our current initiatives can be divided into the following categories: Civic Engagement; Empowering Women, Embracing Diversity; AAPI K-12 Curriculum; and Youth Leadership Development . Our Civic Engagement initiative involves educating the public about issues, voter registration, and canvassing during Census years to help increase AAPI representation in Census data. Every year, we participate in National Voter Registration Day, with booths across the Phoenix Metro Area. Our Census canvassing aids in the nationwide push for data disaggregation for AAPIs, so that the wide range of standard of living, country of origin, etc. can be captured more accurately. Empowering Women, Embracing Diversity is a yearlong program, but also serves as one of our flagship events during AAPI Heritage Month. During this event, we educate the public about the rich diversity of AAPIs, hold panels where the women who lead our community can share their stories, and showcase traditional Asian and Pacific Islander attire in a multicultural fashion show. While held in celebration of AAPI history month, this opportunity to educate the general public on AAPI issues is invaluable. Education is a priority for OCA Greater Phoenix. We are currently working to develop Arizona-specific AAPI inclusive K-12 Curriculum. Two of the largest Japanese Incarceration Camps were located in Arizona, yet most of our students are unaware of their existence. By increasing the visibility of AAPIs in the classroom, we hope to decrease intolerance, violence, and hate towards our community. One of the staples of OCA, both locally and on the National level, is the Youth Leadership Development program. OCA Greater Phoenix hires interns to work with us year-round, exposing them to professional development opportunities and fostering their growth into the next generation of advocates. Each year, we pay for interns to travel to Washington, D.C., where they visit Capitol Hill and advocate on behalf of the AAPI community. By taking a multifaceted approach we work towards improving the socioeconomic, political, physical, and mental wellbeing of the AAPIs around us.