Press Releases

October 3, 2017


Rita Pin Ahrens
Director of Strategic Initiatives & Communications

APIASF Hosts Inaugural Summit: ELEVATE

Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2017) - The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) hosted its inaugural Summit: Empower Leader Engagement, Vision, and Advancement Through Education on September 29th and 30th in Washington, D.C. Summit: ELEVATE built upon our signature Higher Education Summit to include a convening of Asian American Native American and Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) stakeholders to set key shared priorities for AANAPISIs over the next couple of years and a leadership academy for Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) high school and college students. Attendees had the opportunity to engage with top practitioners and policymakers on scalable best practices, successful institutional capacity-building initiatives, new research and data, and evidence-based recommendations to strengthen students, families, and communities.

"With the addition of a Leadership Academy to prepare students for higher education and careers and the Convening to acknowledge the unique role that institutions play in APIA student development, we hope to uplift and empower students. We are excited to build off the success of APIASF's Higher Education Summit Series as one of the most widely attended higher education event for raising awareness about the unique needs of the APIA student population. This year's theme and program expansion speaks to our commitment of boosting leadership and skills development for APIA students," said Neil Horikoshi, APIASF President and Executive Director.

"Moreover, the epicenter of this summit is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the creation of the AANAPISI designation. AANAPISIs acknowledge the rich history and mosaic of experiences in the APIA community to build infrastructure for culturally relevant education for our community. Therefore, this year's summit also examines the past and present of AANAPISIs, in order to map the vibrant future for APIA students at these institutions."

"Wells Fargo is proud to support APIASF's inaugural Summit: ELEVATE, but even more importantly, sponsoring the aspirations of the next generation of APIA leaders. At Wells Fargo, we are driven by the belief that our investments in diversity and inclusion is vital for an America that is inclusive of all experiences and backgrounds," said Georgette "Gigi" Dixon, Senior Vice President, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Corporate Responsibility, and Community Relations of Wells Fargo & Company. "Once again we are happy to build dreams and break barriers with APIASF and we congratulate them on a successful Summit: ELEVATE."

The event culminated in the recognition of those who were at the genesis of the AANAPISI designation and have been instrumental to fulfilling APIASF's mission of providing resources that increase access to higher education at the Summit Gala: Reaching Higher. APIASF honored Sarah Bauder and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the Excellence in Education Award. APIASF also honored Georgette "Gigi" Dixon, Senior Vice President and Director of Strategic Partnerships, Corporate Responsibility, and Community Relations of Wells Fargo & Company with the Inspiring Dreams Award. Last, but not least, APIASF also recognized the Honorable Esther Kia'aina, Executive Director of the Pacific Basin Development Council, Lisa Hasegawa, the inaugural Activist in Residence for the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the Luskin School of Public Affairs Institute for Inequality and Democracy, and the Honorable Robert Underwood, President of the University of Guam, with the Higher Education Awards for their contributions to the creation of AANAPISIs.

The 2017 Summit:ELEVATE was made possible through the support of Wells Fargo & Company as the presenting sponsor.

For more information about APIASF's 2017 Summit: ELEVATE and a recap of the events, visit the summit website at

Based in Washington, D.C., the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA). APIASF works to create opportunities for students to access, complete, and succeed after post-secondary education; thereby developing future leaders who will excel in their career, serve as role models in their communities, and will ultimately contribute to a vibrant America. Since 2003, APIASF has distributed more than $110 million in scholarships to deserving APIA students.

APIASF manages three scholarship programs: the APIASF General Scholarship, the APIASF Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Scholarship, and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.