APIs represent the largest ethnic group living in poverty in SF. Learn more about their struggles below.

The Hidden Struggles of San Francisco's API Community

     The startling findings of a San Francisco Asian and Pacific Islander Health and Wellness report challenged the perception that Asians are one of the most successful and well-educated ethnic groups. The report revealed the mounting struggles that APIs living in San Francisco face, including having the highest rate of poverty. The neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis was commissioned by the API Council, a coalition of 30 San Francisco-based non-profits. Some of the report's key findings include:
  • Between 2007 and 2012, the number of APIs living in poverty increased by 43%—more than any other ethnic group.
  • The unemployment rate of Asians (7%) and Pacific Islanders/Native Hawaiians (14%) is substantially higher than the city average (5%).
  • Roughly 86% of the 23,000 children in southern neighborhoods do not have a childcare option near their homes.
     We spoke with Sarah Wan, Executive Director of Community Youth Center, an Asian Pacific Fund affiliate, to get her take on the report and the importance of its findings. 

APF: You were part of the group (API Council) that put together this report. Why is this study important?
Sarah: With this data, we can really show that the need for support for APIs in San Francisco is real and urgent. It’s a response to cuts in social service programs and a way to challenge misconceptions about Asians in this city.
APF: What do you consider to be some of the key takeaways?
Sarah: That poverty is a major issue for Asians in San Francisco. And it’s not just in the eastern part of the city (Chinatown, Tenderloin, Downtown), but there is significant poverty on the west side of the city as well. The west side is totally overlooked. We found overcrowding, four or five families in one home, and a total lack of childcare options for working families. 

APF: What issues are Community Youth Center working to address?
Sarah: We provide Behavioral Health, Leadership Development, Education, Workforce Development, Intervention and Street Outreach programs for youth. We started 44 years ago with 12 staff members and today have over 45 full-time and 44 part-time staff serving 5,000 API youth a year. We have waiting lists for our programs and see lots of demandespecially from newly arrived API immigrants. 
APF: What are your hopes for this report?
Sarah: We know we have the programs that can guide youth, especially immigrant youth, through the American social and educational system. Our hope is that with this report, decision makers see that APIs, which make up 35% of the city, have significant needs that can’t be overlooked. 
APF: What kind of support do API non-profit organizations need?
Sarah: Support for capacity building, which means building an organization’s infrastructure and sustainability, is crucial. For CYC, that means developing databases, expanding fundraising and building a strategic plan. It’s hard to get funding for capacity building. Asian Pacific Fund understands how important this is to an organization’s future and is supporting our capacity building at CYC with a three-year grant.
PG&E-hosted grantee convening
Many thanks to PG&E for hosting a convening for our 12 grantees! PG&E is a major supporter of our Capacity Building & Civic Engagement Initiative.
Andrew Ly and Jerry Yang
Congrats to board members Andrew Ly and Jerry Yang (Emeritus) who were recognized by Business Insider as two of 12 immigrants who have achieved extraordinary success.
YouTube co-founder Steve Chen
We are thrilled to honor YouTube co-founder Steve Chen at our Annual Gala on October 18th at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. We hope you can join us!
SF Pathways to Citizenship June Workshop
Kudos to our SF Pathways to Citizenship partners who served 2,300 people at a naturalization workshop held in June. Of the 100,000 residents eligible to become citizens in SF, 60% are of Asian descent.
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The Asian Pacific Fund is a non-profit foundation dedicated to strengthening the Bay Area's Asian and Pacific Islander communities. We help donors achieve their philanthropic goals, support organizations that serve our most vulnerable, and raise awareness about pressing community needs.
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