Posts Tagged AAPIP

Creating Hmong LGBTQ Space Everywhere by Alice Y. Hom

“Creating Hmong LGBTQ Space Everywhere” By Alice Y. Hom

Shades of Yellow (SOY), a Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer organization located in the Twin Cities, Minnesota has been creating safer spaces and a community for Hmong LGBTQ people to meet others to share and learn more about integrating their ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in affirming and supportive ways. They also have developed ally relationships to build understanding and acceptance for Hmong LGBTQ members within their Hmong and LGBTQ communities of which they are a part.

As the Director of AAPIP’s Queer Justice Fund, I met with SOY staff, board, and a few members on February 7th to lead a facilitated discussion about the history of LGBTQ AAPI community organizing, my own development as a Queer AAPI activist, and their thoughts about the future direction for SOY as they contemplate new leadership and strategies to build the organization and their members.

A former board member, Fue Khang shared, “This conversation was definitely something we needed. We have not yet had an individual come in to work one-on-one with our Board and/or Staff, so this meeting re-energized me. For a while I was feeling the affects of burnout and a bit hopeless, but having this meeting to talk over our concerns and visions gave me a new perspective for SOY.”

A group of 11 met over a tasty dinner at a Cambodian restaurant where we made a Queer AAPI space in a semi-private back room where we spoke freely, laughed loudly, and at times, turned serious on topics such as coming out, family and community acceptance, discrimination, social change, and how best for SOY to play a role in changing social and community conditions by addressing racism, homophobia, and sexism in ways that make sense culturally from the different perspectives of SOY members and leaders. “[This] meeting helped reinforce my thoughts and helped me redefined what social change is and can be,” said Doua Xiong.

People shared their challenges of being Hmong and queer, how they navigate the sometimes different worlds of their LGBTQ community and their Hmong community, and how they encounter a variety of reactions when coming out to friends and family members. Huey Lee remarked, “I had the best and most productive night ever with SOY and Alice Hom. I never thought just talking with people [would] be this great and that I would learn so much. I really enjoyed talking about the concept of space and that as Hmong Queer, we have the opportunity to create Queer space where ever we go!”

The final topic of the evening centered on SOY’s current leadership transition and the short-term and future direction of the organization. Everyone chimed in with their different perspectives and opinions based on their connection, history, and roles with SOY. The next steps include creating more opportunities to have larger gatherings to continue the dialogue and to bring interested people together who want to do the work of maintaining and sustaining SOY because it is a valuable resource for the Hmong LGBTQ community and to ally communities.

Chong Moua, a SOY staff member, summed it up, “It was good to know that SOY is not the only organization that goes through challenges, change, and transitions. Discussing our specific concerns and having the opportunity to share our ideas and thoughts connected everyone, board, staff, and constituents, on a deeper level. Having this understanding regrounded everyone back to the same starting point. I am reassured, hopeful, and excited for all the opportunities ahead!”


Please come and support one of SOY’s signature events, SOY New Year celebration, this Saturday, February 26th.

Buasavanh Banquet Hall
7324 Lakeland Ave N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.
Doors Open at 3 pm
Open-Mic and After Party at 9 pm
For more information, please see

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How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame?

Reflections from the 2010 GEO conference from Bo Thao-Urabe, BRIDGE Director about organizational effectiveness using NGEC’s framework.

Social Justice Movement Building diagram

How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame? - By Bo Thao-Urabe, Director, BRIDGE (Building Responsive Infrastructure to Develop Global Equity)

Recently I participated in the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ (GEO) national conference.  The participants were mostly people from foundations, but there were some representatives from consulting firms, affinity groups and community nonprofits.  Being a newbie, I chatted with a few participants about why they came.  For most, “organizational effectiveness” of nonprofit groups being funded seemed top of mind.

On a very basic level, organizational effectiveness is a seemingly apolitical term used in the nonprofit sector to demonstrate how successful an organization is in achieving its stated goals.  This has translated into tools and methods that help groups develop measurement units of their work — like demographically naming the population being served, counting the number of people served, and showing the level of satisfaction of those served. But these are very contained, focused, logical, short-term, and absent a worldview.

For me, just using the “organizational effective” paradigm alone misses a more dynamic beginning and evolution of organizations that helps us understand and answer the question of, “So What?”  or “Organizational effectiveness for what?”

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Creating Community Identity – Ideas + Questions Inspired by New Orleans Convening

OFP participants at New Orleans convening

(Sharing some reflections from our recent convening  – written by Megan Powers, NGEC’s Capacity Building Manager in Minnesota.)

A question bubbled up among many during NGEC’s recent OFP cohort convening in New Orleans: How can a group help to create and harness a community’s identity?

After viewing “A Village Called Versailles”, visiting with New Orleans residents and organizers, and much discussion, cohort participants noted that part of the success of the neighborhood’s organizing work can be attributed to a strong sense of community identity.

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“Justice Rising: Sparking Dialogue for Democracy” NGEC video & Guide

“Justice Rising: Sparking Dialogue for Democracy”

The intended audiences for the video and the guide are individuals and organizations who are exploring the meaning of social justice in their work. The following clips from the NGEC’s Justice Rising video offers various definitions and organizational strategies for advancing social justice in communities. It focuses on the importance of giving meaning to social justice as a concept and a framework, and shares tangible examples of how some groups have responded by creating programs and carrying out specific strategies.

Justice Rising – Video Discussion Guide

Justice Rising NGEC

Download .pdf (1.1 MB)

PART 1 of 2

PART 2 of 2

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Sample Exercises + Team Activities from NGEC’s Social Justice Capacity Building Program

NGEC OFP’s Sample Exercises and Team Activities

The exercises and activities we list below were initially developed for use in NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program with our 12 Asian American partner organizations in Minnesota and California.

Although they represent just a sampling of what we do in our intensive 3-year capacity building program, NGEC shares these resources in the spirit of making them available to wider audiences.

We hope folks find them useful and applicable to other areas of work.  NGEC welcomes and appreciate your feedback as we continue to refine and update these tools as they are tested and adapted by the community.

“Exploring Our Values” Exercise

“Fictional VRC Role Play” Exercise

“Organization Alignment” Exercise

“Organizational Transformation Role Play” Exercise

“Zooming In and Zooming Out” Exercise

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Building Power, Collective Leadership and Cultural Change

NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program is convening in New Orleans this year around the themes of: Building Power, Collective Leadership and Cultural Change.

We’ll be exploring aspects of these practices within the context of what’s happening in New Orleans, and providing space for each OFP member to share and reflect upon how these manifest in their own communities.

AAPIP will also host a screening of  the documentary “A Village Called Versailles” with filmmaker, Leo Chiang.

In a New Orleans neighborhood called Versailles, a tight-knit group of Vietnamese Americans overcame obstacles to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, only to have their homes threatened by a new government-imposed toxic landfill. A VILLAGE CALLED VERSAILLES is the empowering story of how the Versailles people, who have already suffered so much in their lifetime, turn a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance for a better future.

A few other sites and resources around the recovery & movement building efforts in post-Katrina :

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Giving Circles ~ AAPIP’s Community Philanthropy

We are often asked how AAPIP approaches Community Philanthropy.  Here’s a short description of this innovative program area and a list of frequently asked questions from the AAPIP website.

What is Community Philanthropy?

AAPIP seeks to increase, encourage and facilitate giving by and for individuals in Asian Americans/Pacific Islander communities. AAPIP’s goal is to grow and demonstrate new models of philanthropy. AAPIP’s community philanthropy is currently comprised of regional giving circles and the National Donor Circle.

What is a Giving Circle?

A giving circle is a group of volunteers raising, pooling and granting money together. Giving circles allow for a wide range of giving style, philosophy and values. Some giving circle members just donate money while others volunteer their time, skills and expertise in the organizations their giving circle funds. Giving circles also provide social networks, leadership development, peer support and learning among its members.

AAPIP incubated giving circles to support and engage individual Asian American and Pacific Islanders as donors. Since 2005, over 600 AAPI donors have pooled their money and time to award close to $600,000 to 70 API non-profit organizations. AAPIP will continue to provide technical assistance, training, leverage philanthropic resources, convening and provide leadership to giving circles as a commitment to growing philanthropy within the community, from the grassroots.

Learn About Giving Circles

Asian American Giving Circle of Greater Houston
Asian Giving Circle (Chicago)
Asian Women Giving Circle (New York)
Cherry Blossom Giving Circle (Washington DC)
Hmong Women Giving Circle (Minnesota)
Los Angeles API Giving Circle
Lunar Giving Circle (San Francisco Bay Area)
Muslim Women Giving Circle (San Francisco Bay Area)
Saffron Circle (Boston)
South Asian Giving Circle (San Francisco Bay Area)

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CONNECT! Regional Guide to Nonprofits Serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in DC

AAPIP’s  “Cherry Blossom Giving Circle” in Washington DC have a new resource guide!

more info & download  available on their website >


CONNECT! – Regional Guide to Nonprofits Serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

AAPIP’s Metropolitan Washington, DC/Baltimore Chapter, in conjunction with the Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, published the first guide for funders on nonprofits serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our region.

For more information on API-serving 501(c)3’s in the area, or to download the catalogue, click on the image to the right or email

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NGEC Guide: An Organization’s Theory of Social Change (TOSC)

NGEC Theory of Social Change

NGEC Theory of Social Change Guide

“Chronicles of Change: A Guide to an Organization’s Theory of Social Change”

NGEC believes that all social justice organizations are drivers of change and delivery agents of solutions in the social justice movement. As such, each should have a Theory of Social Change (TOSC) to be most effective and sustainable.

As part of the journey in the NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program (OFP), we developed this 80-page guide to help the cohort groups in our 3-year program through the larger process of defining or refining their organization’s role in the social justice movement.   We believe that the combination of process and product makes a TOSC critical to organizational transformation.   The activities detailed in this guide can help groups  identify existing organizational assets and suggests ways to effectively engage organizational stakeholders in the TOSC development process.

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Freedom Inc ~ Kabzuag Vaj

NGEC just wrapped up our final 2009 peer learning call with the  OFP cohort and our  special guest speaker, Kabzuag Vaj of Freedom Incorporated.  The OFP participants asked great questions and heard engaging examples of Freedom Inc’s work around what cultural change means  for them and what kinds of decisions and strategies have shaped who they are as a social justice organization.

About Freedom Inc
:  Freedom, Inc.’s mission is to inspire and educate individuals through leadership development and community organizing that will bring about social, political, cultural, and economic change to low-income communities.  Their projects include advocacy & services for victims of domestic violence, as well as weekly youth groups where girls and boys learn about & discuss leadership, healthy relationships, academic & community issues, and anti-oppression principles & tactics.

Freedom Inc was founded in 2000 by a group of young Southeast Asian girls in Wisconsin who came together to talk about community issues. As stories were shared, they realized that many forms of oppression were taking place within and amongst their community, which consists of low-income Hmong and other Southeast Asians.  They reflected on the violence within many of their own families, & realized that those incidences related to larger systemic issues of poverty, racial profiling, immigration, & other forms of violence that continually impact their community.

Freedom Inc:
image from

Kabzuag Vaj is a long-time advocate for Hmong women, girls, and families.  She is a co-founder and current Executive Director of Freedom Inc. As part of her position, she also works on program development and advocacy for families experiencing domestic violence. Formerly, she worked at the Hmong American Women Association. More recently, she has been part of a team of Hmong women activist/advocates working to address root causes of abusive international marriages. Kabzuag has participated in several groups including INCITE! Radical Women of Color Working to End Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Advisory Board of Creative Intervention-San Francisco and the Madison Equal Opportunity Commission. She earned a B.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kabzuag has studied and lived in Thailand. A Hmong refugee, she and her family have been active community members in Madison for more than 25 years.

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