Schools & Communities First: Essential for Rebuilding AAPI Communities Across California

artwork by Natalie Bui

As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month comes to an end, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders across California celebrate not only our culturally dense history, but also our histories of resistance, survival, resilience, and power. We are continuing this legacy of building AAPI power by uniting to support the Schools & Communities First campaign to close corporate tax loopholes and reclaim $12 billion for public schools and critical local services.

As a community of diverse experiences — indigenous to the Pacific Islands and Hawai’i, immigrants, migrants, and refugees — we have a deep understanding and appreciation for the important role great public schools and critical local services serve for families and communities. We’ve long practiced interdependence by pooling resources to survive, knowing that valuing corporate profits over people will not result in thriving and healthy communities.

Our AAPI community has shown that we value communities over corporations, by making a significant contribution to the record-breaking 1.7 million signatures gathered in support of Schools & Communities First. Our signature collection movement ranged from AAPI youth to non-English speaking elders, demonstrating that across generations, and across experiences, we recognize that change is needed.

Over many decades, the public infrastructure required for our communities to thrive has been eroded, or never existed at all. AAPI teachers, essential workers, elected officials, small business owners, and community leaders, have witnessed the defunding of our schools and neighborhoods even as our communities continue to grow and become the fastest growing ethnic group in the state. And the COVID-19 crisis has further exposed the disinvestment in public health that puts us and our loved ones at risk.

AAPI communities along with Black, Latinx, Native American and immigrant communities have been disproportionately hard-hit, especially now as our AAPI essential workers are on the frontlines of providing food, education, health care and vital services to our communities amid increased hate crimes and attacks from politicians looking for a scapegoat.

Winning Schools & Communities First and ensuring corporations pay their fair share so we can invest in our schools and local communities is absolutely critical to recover from the pandemic and rebuild a California that represents all of us. We must come together to win this important initiative in November to begin addressing the glaring inequities and systemic racism that AAPIs, other communities or color, and immigrant communities bear.

Our collective future as Californians depends on our ability to come together, reclaim the resources we need to thrive, and invest in our children, our communities, and a future California for all. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we demand that our government represents us, not a handful of top corporate executives. We take pride in representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, however we know that when we join together and represent for all Californians, we have more than pride, we have power.

Join us by adding your name to this list of AAPI community members who support Schools & Communities First and volunteering to join our movement here.

In solidarity,

Dr. Allyson Tintiangco Cubales, Professor in the College of Ethnic Studies and Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University
Alvin Dayoan, APALA Sacramento Chapter; Organizing Steward, IBEW Local 1245
Amber Akemi Piatt, MPH, Health Instead of Punishment Program Director, Human Impact Partners (HIP)
Ami Pascual Spear, Board member, Inclusive Action for the City
Anand Subramanian, Managing Director, PolicyLink
Angelica Jongco, Deputy Managing Attorney, Public Advocates Inc.
Dr. Arthur Chen, Family Physician, Asian Health Services, former Alameda County Public Health Officer
Arlene Inouye, Secretary, United Teachers Los Angeles, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance National Board, California Federation of Teachers
Bernice Julie Shaw, Co-Director, Center for Story-based Strategy
Betty Chan, Faculty Member, American River College
Betty Hung, Staff Director, UCLA Labor Center
Bonny Kong, American River College, Workforce Development Office
Buck Wong, retired teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District
Carol Kim, Vice President, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council
Carrie Morita, retired educator, Los Angeles Unified School District; and Nikkei Progressives Coordinating Committee
Cha Vang, Co-Director, Hmong Innovating Politics
Cirian Villavicencio, Commissioner, California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs
Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action
Darryl Molina Sarmiento, Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment
David Kakishiba, Executive Director, East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC)
Dean Murakami, President, APALA Sacramento Chapter; President, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers
Dean Toji, Co-chair, A3PCON (Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council) Environmental Justice Committee
Elly Matsumura, California Director, Partnership for Working Families
Emily Ota Okano, Teacher and UTLA Vice-Chair, Vine Street Elementary-LAUSD
Emily Reyes, United Teachers Los Angeles Chapter Chair and Vice-President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance — Los Angeles Chapter
Emmelle Israel, Chair, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance — Young Leaders Council and Vice-President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance — Los Angeles Chapter
Eric Mar, Former President, San Francisco Board of Education, & Member, SF Board of Supervisors
Eric Chun, faculty member, FAA fine arts at American River College; and founder owner of Creative Music Services
Gala King, Member, Sama Sama Cooperative
Geordee Mae Corpuz, Strategy Director, Californians for Justice
Geraldine Alcid, Executive Director, Filipino Advocates for Justice
Gil Mangaoang, Writer and former Client Services Director, Asian Pacific Intervention Team
Gina Acebo, Vice-President of Programs, Akonadi Foundation
Gloria Chun Hoo, Vice President, Programs/Advocacy, League of Women Voters of California
Godfrey Santos Plata, Member-Elect, LA County Democratic Party Central Committee; LAUSD AANHPI AMEMSA Steering Committee; Candidate, CA State Assembly
Honey Lum, Immediate Past President, Chinese American Council of Sacramento
J. Ishida, Co-Director, Youth Organize California
Jan Tokumaru, retired Project Coordinator, California Labor Federation Workforce and Economic Development Program
Jared Ginn, Founder, New Life Bowls
Jeanna Valebia-Tang, Treasurer, CTA Pacific Asian American Caucus and Vice-President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance — Los Angeles Chapter
Jim H. Matsuoka, former Associate Director, EOP, CSULB
Joann Lo, former Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance, & member, Food Chain Workers Alliance Advisory Council
Johanna Puno Hester, President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) San Diego Chapter

John Kim, Executive Director, Advancement Project-California
Josie Camacho, 2nd Vice President, APALA Alameda Chapter; SEIU 1021
June Hibino, Co-chair, Nikkei Progressives
Jung Hee Choi, Deputy Director, Power California
Justine Santos, Organizing Director, Californians for Justice
Karla Zombro, Vice President of Field Strategy, California Calls
Kathleen Yasuda, Director, Labor Center of LA Trade Tech College. Executive Board member of LA College Faculty Guild, AFT 1521
Kathy Masaoka, retired Los Angeles Unified School District teacher and Co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress
Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center and Vice President, California Federation of Teachers
Kim Geron, President, APALA Alameda Chapter; California Faculty Association
Kori Saika Chen, Entrepreneur, Alkali Rye Beverage Shop
Kristy Banh, Los Rios Community College District
Laiseng Saechao, Political Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network Action
Lian Cheun, Executive Director, Khmer Girls in Action
Lindsay Imai Hong, Member, Japanese Americans for Justice
Liz Guillen, Director of Legislative & Community Affairs, Public Advocates Inc.
lora jo foo, former Employment/Labor Attorney, Asian Law Caucus and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum co-founder
Lori Beccarelli, Assistant Professor, American River College
Mabel Lam, CADEM Delegate Assembly District
Margo Okazawa-Rey, Professor Emerita, San Francisco State University
Maria Abadesco, CA Democratic Party Labor Caucus
Martha Matsuoka, Director, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute/Center for Community-Based Learning, Occidental College
Meesh Cabal, Lead Organizer, Youth Together
Mike Fong, Trustee, Los Angeles Community College District
Rev. Michael Yoshii, Buena Vista United Methodist Church
Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Monica Thammarath, National President, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO; Human Rights Manager, California Teachers Association
Nikki Fortunato Bas, Council member, City of Oakland
Nkauj Iab Yang, Co-Director, Hmong Innovating Politics
Oranit Limmaneeprasert, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers President for American River College and member of APALA-Sacramento
Parvesh Cheena, APALA National Board Member, SAG-AFTRA National Delegate
Paul Jung, President, API RISE (Reentry & Inclusion through Support & Empowerment)
Peggy Saika, former President/CEO Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy
Peter Su, East Bay Resident
Rebecca Harper, Chair, California Teachers Association Pacific Asian American Caucus
Richard Konda, Executive Director, Asian Law Alliance
Rod Daus-Magbual, Council Member, Daly City
Saa’un P. Bell, Strategy Director, Californians for Justice
Shaw San Liu, Executive Director, Chinese Progressive Association
Stacy Kono, Executive Director, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network
Stanley Pun, Co-Director, AYPAL: Building API Community Power
Susan Yee
Taryn Ishida, Executive Director, Californians for Justice
Tavae Samuelu, Executive Director, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Telly Tse, Vice Chair CTA Pacific Asian American Caucus, and Board Member, National Education Association
Timmy Lu, Executive Director, AAPIs for Civic Empowerment
Tony Douangviseth, Executive Director, Youth Together
Vanessa Coe, 1st Vice President, APALA Alameda Chapter; National Union of Healthcare Workers
Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action
Walter Kawamoto, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers PAFC Chair and former Florin JACL President
Warren T. Furutani, Former Los Angeles School Board Member, Los Angeles Community College Trustee and California State Assemblymember



AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund

A statewide network that builds progressive AAPI governing power in CA through campaign organizing, policy advocacy, IVE, and narrative change.