VietLead

VietLead

VietLead is a base-building, community-centered organization, working with the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities in Philadelphia, in addition to the Black & Brown communities in South Jersey. VietLead works to develop culturally centered & community-driven solutions to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity with other working

VietLead

VietLead is a base-building, community-centered organization, working with the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities in Philadelphia, in addition to the Black & Brown communities in South Jersey. VietLead works to develop culturally centered & community-driven solutions to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity with other working class communities of color. We are committed to organizing our community towards a future in which everyone can thrive culturally, economically, socially, and politically in Philadelphia and South Jersey. We do this through a Heal.Resist.Grow. framework where we aim to heal community trauma, resist structures harming working class communities, and grow community based leadership to win significant victories in solidarity with other communities. HEAL: As systematically oppressed people, we have internalized feelings/behavior of individualism, racism, classism, and sexism. We promote personal transformation through healing together as a community to reclaim history and practices that have been lost. We shift individual blaming into community action towards systemic change. RESIST: We RESIST by building up power through leadership development. We build our ability to contest for power in ways that can lead to a material change in the conditions of all communities. GROW: We grow and model community solutions that promote ecological well-being for earth and people and allow for us to reclaim our labor. We also grow new narratives that challenge current dominant narratives. Our programs include food & farm sovereignty, youth organizing, health navigation & healing, civic empowerment and community defense.

About the Organization:

VietLead is a base-building, community-centered organization, working with the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian communities in Philadelphia, in addition to the Black & Brown communities in South Jersey. VietLead works to develop culturally centered & community-driven solutions to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity with other working class communities of color. We are committed to organizing our community towards a future in which everyone can thrive culturally, economically, socially, and politically in Philadelphia and South Jersey. We do this through a Heal.Resist.Grow. framework where we aim to heal community trauma, resist structures harming working class communities, and grow community based leadership to win significant victories in solidarity with other communities. HEAL: As systematically oppressed people, we have internalized feelings/behavior of individualism, racism, classism, and sexism. We promote personal transformation through healing together as a community to reclaim history and practices that have been lost. We shift individual blaming into community action towards systemic change. RESIST: We RESIST by building up power through leadership development. We build our ability to contest for power in ways that can lead to a material change in the conditions of all communities. GROW: We grow and model community solutions that promote ecological well-being for earth and people and allow for us to reclaim our labor. We also grow new narratives that challenge current dominant narratives. Our programs include food & farm sovereignty, youth organizing, health navigation & healing, civic empowerment and community defense.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

6-10 YEARS

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

Arizona • California • Colorado • Connecticut • District of Columbia • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Illinois • Indiana • Kentucky • Maryland • Massachusetts • Minnesota • New York • North Carolina • Ohio • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Tennessee • Texas • Washington

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

6-10 YEARS

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

Arizona • California • Colorado • Connecticut • District of Columbia • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Illinois • Indiana • Kentucky • Maryland • Massachusetts • Minnesota • New York • North Carolina • Ohio • Oregon • Pennsylvania • Tennessee • Texas • Washington

The Issue:

Between 1975-1995, the U.S. resettled 1 million+ Southeast Asian (SEA) refugees escaping destruction of the Wars in Southeast Asia. In addition to the trauma of war, we continued facing poverty and racial violence due to the failed U.S. refugee resettlement program. Current day anti-Asian violence can be traced back to historical structural anti-Black policies that also harmed Southeast Asians. We mobilize our community to be in solidarity with Black struggles that are inherently also Southeast Asian struggles. Locally, 31% of Vietnamese Americans in the city live in poverty. 58% of SEA are limited English proficient. Language barriers pose an additional socio-economic disadvantage to healthcare, education, and general navigation of needs. In the last municipal elections, the Vietnamese vote turnout percentage was 5.57% in the Primary and 13.7% in the general. Forming small businesses and ethnic economies was a way that some in the community survived. Hoa Binh Plaza, a beloved Southeast Asian corridor, was the first to form in the Tri-State area to meet the needs of SEA refugees. It is now facing displacement by a luxury developer. Policies that support luxury development that is displacing the plaza, also take away tax dollars that would go to funding public schools. In classrooms, the model minority myth that assumes all Asians are exceptional academic achievers prevents SEA youth from receiving the attention and support they need. Only 48% of Vietnamese have a high school diploma; and only 13% of Vietnamese hold bachelor’s degrees, compared to 22% of the general population. Poor education was compounded in the 1980s and 1990s during the rise of the prison industrial complex leading to mass incarceration and criminalization, leaving many Vietnamese refugee students entrapped in the criminal justice system. Although many served their sentences, adults are facing detention and deportation due to past convictions. In 2017, 456 Vietnamese people were arrested and detained, and an unknown number of people were taken from their homes and separated from their families to be deported to Vietnam. There are over 10,000 Vietnamese people living in the United States with removal orders.

The Solution:

We understand that the conditions that keep our community struggling are rooted in our failed refugee resettlement system. Our response must also be multi-faceted. Our strategies address the root cause by meeting community needs and building community power to challenge structural power including: FOOD SOVEREIGNTY - Our two farm and garden sites are intergenerational spaces that build intercultural unity and healing. We regenerate self-agency through rebuilding a sacred relationship to land, increasing access to culturally affirming food, and generating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth and elder farmers. We support small ethnic businesses to thrive and have waged anti-gentrification campaigns to protect against displacement. YOUTH LEADERSHIP: Our programs engage 100+ low-income SEA, Black and Brown youth in developing emotional and political capacity to transform their communities. School year and summer internships engage in political education and leadership development through reclaiming cultural resilience practices like agriculture and also being apart of education justice campaigns. CIVIC EMPOWERMENT: We work in partnership with BIPOC coalitions to build multi-racial working class power. We build base through engaging in election seasons and utilize electoral strategies in our issue campaigns. We reach ~1,500-2,000 community members yearly through electoral strategies. HEALTH & HEALING: We offer Vietnamese linguistic competency to provide direct services to 1000+ low-income, limited-English proficient, uninsured/underinsured adults and elders yearly. We work with 12+ nail salons educating workers about occupational safety issues. We collaborated on a national report describing nail salon working conditions during COVID. COMMUNITY DEFENSE: We offer case support (legal referral, accompaniment to ICE check-ins), leadership development for impacted bases, applying for state pardons, and advocating for non-reformist policy to end ICE detention and deportation. As part of SEA Freedom Network, we are organizing a multi-year Southeast Asian Relief and Responsibility (SEARR) campaign advocating for short-term and long-term policies that will provide immediate relief to communities facing deportation while providing healing and re-building dignity. 2025 marks the 50th anniversary ending US wars in SEA. Through utilizing a community created documentary, we will wage a narrative campaign to politicize SEA on our failed resettlement and mobilize nationally for the SEARR campaign.

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