Newly designated co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu said on Oct. 11 that the Obama Administration has opened doors for many AAPIs and plans to expand its outreach to even more communities in need of federal services and protections.
Lu, who now co-chairs the Initiative with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, joined Initiative Director Kiran Ahuja on a conference call with reporters today to discuss the state of the White House Initiative at the two-year anniversary of its reauthorization by President Obama and to outline plans to take its outreach to the next level.
“When the White House Initiative was reestablished by President Obama, we didn’t just face a small hill of problems, we faced a massive mountain of challenges in the midst of a national crisis, but we’ve clearly started to climb and make real progress for people across the country,” said Ahuja. “We’ve connected and listened to hundreds of community leaders across the country and opened doors for hundreds of thousands of people who need programs and services now more than ever.”
In the last two years, the Initiative hosted hundreds of roundtables, meetings, and workshops as well as several national summits in 50 cities across dozens of states, gathering input from tens of thousands of AAPIs. Based on those discussions, the Initiative worked closely with more than 23 federal agencies and executive offices to create and implement historic plans to increase AAPI access to programs and services.
As a result, the Initiative increased access to vital economic, health, educational, and other resources.
Working with partners throughout the Obama Administration, the White House Initiative helped launch a program to increase the number of senior- and mid-level AAPI managers in government; more than doubled support for higher educational institutions that serve AAPIs; and pushed new data-collection standards to help serve underserved communities, providing national employment data for specific AAPI communities for the first time.
“We’re building on our successes and taking the White House Initiative’s work to the next level to serve those who need vital services now more than ever,” said Lu. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are now the fastest growing race in America, and the Obama Administration understands the urgent need to address this population’s concerns head-on, especially in the face of difficult economic conditions. We also realize that the federal government can’t do this alone, so we’re launching a coordinated response to make sure even more people across the country have access to the federal services and protections they need.”
Lu said the Initiative plans to bring even more AAPIs together with the Obama Administration — reaching out to AAPIs who live in hard to reach areas, newer immigrants, refugee communities, and emerging pockets of the population.
The plan includes developing relationships with more stakeholders and creating new partnerships to leverage the combined power of community and business leaders, while providing greater technical assistance to AAPIs attemting to access federal resources the Obama Administration has made available. (end)
For more information, visit 1.usa.gov/ollaFH.