May 18, 2005
APIASF Awards First Scholarships: More Than $300,000 Awarded in First Year
For Immediate Release
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WASHINGTON - The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), a new national organization devoted to the scholarship needs of college-bound students of Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) heritage, announced its first national scholarship recipients today at the National Press Club. APIASF will award a total of $330,000 in scholarships to 165 students. Each winner will receive $2,000.
All of the winners will be beginning freshmen this fall. The recipients represent 30 out of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and several Freely Associated States. Each scholar was selected from more than 3,700 applicants from 49 states, including students from many Asian and Pacific Islander American communities including Cambodians, Chamorros, Chinese, Filipinos, Hmong, Japanese, Laotians, Koreans, Native Hawai’ians, Samoans, South Asians and Vietnamese. Additionally, more than two-thirds of the recipients were women.
"It is with great pleasure that I congratulate each and every APIASF scholarship recipient," said Robert Underwood, APIASF Chairman and former U.S. Congressman. "This has truly been a labor of love for every APIASF board member and volunteer. None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our coalition of community, civic, educational and corporate leaders. I applaud everyone for making our dream of having a national APIA scholarship organization become a reality that will support our communities for generations."According to the 2000 Census, Nearly 18 percent of the Native Hawai’ian and Pacific Islander communities live in poverty, as well as 12.6 percent of Asian Americans. Less than 20 percent of Americans, 25 years and older have not completed high school; however, when Southeast Asians (e.g., Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong) and Pacific Islanders are considered, as many as 50 percent have not completed high school.
APIASF has set a goal to see that all APIAs who wish to pursue higher education have that opportunity, regardless of their cultural backgrounds or economic means. Furthermore, APIASF hopes to encourage students to become future leaders in their respective communities, which, in turn, will help to strengthen the leadership of the country."We were thrilled to have received so many scholarship applications," said Tim Leong, president and executive director of APIASF. "Our office has received literally thousands of applications and inquiries about the scholarship fund, and this was only our first year.
The response is a clear indication of the great need we have in the APIA community for a scholarship organization such as APIASF. The myth of the "model minority" —where all APIAs are viewed as high-achieving students—has to be tempered by the reality of having families who need help to support a child who might be the first in their family to attend college."
APIASF has set an ambitious goal of raising a minimum of $3 million in order to sustain the national organization and provide even more scholarships. APIASF credits corporate, and foundation leaders for providing the majority of initial support.
"Raising funds is always a difficult task for corporate, foundation and community leaders," said Wai-Ling Eng, APIASF Vice Chair and national scholarship chair for the Asian McDonald's Operators Association (AMOA). "Yet despite the challenges we face as a new organization, the member of AMOA enthusiastically pledged to raise $1 million in support APIASF-sponsored scholarships. I am proud to report that we have already raised more than $200,000 towards that goal."
Other corporate, foundation, and civic leaders have also stepped up their commitment by providing staff volunteers, in-kind contributions and additional funding to offset the costs of running a national start-up organization. In addition to AMOA, The Kamehameha Schools, McDonald's USA, the Organization of Chinese Americans, Ten Communications, Wal-Mart Stores, and Wells Fargo have provided more than three dozen volunteers to read scholarship applications, provide technical support, and host community events to support APIASF. New corporations have also joined to lend their support, including Nissan North America and Sodexho.
"It truly is a privilege and honor for us to be a part of this new national organization," said Joy Murakami Crose, vice president and general counsel at Nissan North America. "Scholarships are such an important need for many students and their families. I cannot think of a better way for us to support the community, but recognize that we must continue to do even more to help students achieve their goals."
APIASF is the only national organization that promotes the pursuit of higher education among Asian and Pacific Islander American students by distributing scholarships to qualified students. Established in 2004, APIASF has already earned the support of major corporations including AT&T, Wells Fargo & Company, The Coca-Cola Company, Wal-Mart Stores, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Nissan North America, General Mills Foundation and McDonald's USA, LLC. Several scholarship programs, such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the United Negro College Fund, the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, and the Gates Millennium Scholars/APIA, support APIASF. APIASF is a non-profit organization devoted to the scholarship needs of Asian and Pacific Islander American students.