Each May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the contributions of Asian Americans to the history and achievements of the United States. The month of May is symbolic of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States and the completion of the transcendental railroad, whose workers were primarily Chinese immigrants.
Throughout U.S. history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played a crucial role in writing the American story. From serving our country in uniform and advocating for civil rights to starting new businesses and winning Olympic medals, the contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community touch the lives of Americans every day.
Today, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are building strong AmeriCorps programs and serving as community leaders and as AmeriCorps members. Together, they are working hard to make our communities stronger to solve everyday problems across the country.
AAPI Community Programs
Kupu, a Hawaii-based national service program, has trained more than 3,500 youth in conservation, sustainability, and environmental education since 2007. Kupu has stuck by its commitment to empower today’s youth by connecting them to Āina, the Hawaiian concept of the natural world. Program participants have improved 1,300 miles of trail, planted more than 80,000 native plants, and provided educational sessions to more than 61,000 community members and students at nearly 1,500 events.
Āina Corps or Green Jobs Youth Corps found its start during the pandemic. In 2020, it trained and employed 350 displaced workers and recent graduates in natural resource management and sustainable agriculture. Today, the program plans to continue that work by providing opportunities for career skill development, while also staffing Hawaiian companies to accelerate recovery efforts from the pandemic.
Watch this full video about Kupu Āina Corps
Thai Community Development Center
Established in 1994, the Thai Community Development Center was first established to address the health and human service needs of the Thai population in Los Angeles. In 2012, the program launched the East Hollywood Certified Farmers’ Market to improve access to fresh, locally grown produce for low-income members of their community.
“It is clear to me how much our regular [customers] rely on us for their grocery shopping every week,” said Fiona Dismuke-Kong, an AmeriCorps member serving as a Farmers’ Market Sustainability and Integration Coordinator “I am proud to give people access to something that I believe is a fundamental right: Food!”
The market accepts and matches customers’ public benefits and members, like Fiona, provide additional support by enrolling customers into California’s EBT program.
The "Kupuna," or grandparent generation, of the AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program preserves the rich culture and language of Pacific Islanders by filling gaps between generations. Foster grandparents serve at elementary schools throughout Hawaii, where they pass down their knowledge and experiences through stories and activities with the students.
As one Kupuna expressed, “The whole concept is very Hawaiian. Our kupuna are the ones that have a lot of influence on our young people and that’s why I am doing it.”
Watch this full video about Alu Like
Lasting community change begins with individuals making a commitment to serve.
Across Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, AmeriCorps members and leaders are bolstering cultural understanding while creating solutions to pressing challenges in their neighborhoods.
Through programs like these, national service makes it possible for everyone to give back. Join us this May as we continue to celebrate the rich history and vital contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Learn how you can leverage national service to help your community.