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Pacific Islanders Leading for an Equitable Recovery

Wednesday, August 4, 2021 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm PDT
Zoom Webinar
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COVID-19 made starkly visible the disparities in our society. Nowhere was this more clear than for the Pacific Islander (PI) community in California. The data that is available shows that this community was perhaps the hardest hit by COVID-19 of any other racial or ethnic group.

Philanthropy and policymakers are engaged in discussions about what an equitable recovery looks like, which is commendable. But for Pacific Islanders, the data and research that exists to track their recovery is woefully inadequate.

A recent report by Advancement Project California RACE COUNTS initiative, “COVID-19: Statewide Vulnerability and Recovery Index”, found that
  • PI and Latinx Californians had the highest case rates.
  • PI, Black, and Latinx Californians have the highest death rates.

The AAPI community is a large, diverse, and growing group in California. When research is done by, for, and with this larger grouping, the unique assets and challenges of PI communities are often invisible or lost. For example, for every $100 awarded by foundations in the U.S., only 20 cents Is designated for the AAPI community, and a mere fraction of that 20 cents reaches the PI community. To add, the PI community (much like American Indians and Native Americans) is not as geographically concentrated as other racial and ethnic groups, so typical data strategies do not adequately capture their experiences. This lack of PI data limits the ability of policymakers, philanthropy, and community-based organizations to effectively target needed interventions and support community leaders.

To address this data deficit, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities is joining with NeighborWorks America and Advancement Project California’s RACE COUNTS initiative to produce a much-needed report on the PI community in California. This report will feature disaggregated data on Pacific Islanders and will be the first such report released since 2014.


  • John Kim, Executive Director, Advancement Project California
  • EunSook Lee, Director of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund
  • Tavae Samuelu, Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities
  • Fran Lujan, Museum Director & Curator of Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum
  • Patsy Tito, Executive Director of Samoan Community Development Center
  • Lolofi Soakai, Executive Director & Founder of Motivating Action Leadership Opportunity

Target Audience 

This program is open to everyone.


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