Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are now the fastest growing racial group in the United States, increasing over four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population and expected to double to more than 47 million by 2060. Recognizing this tremendous growth and the unique needs within AAPI communities, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13515 reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) on October 14, 2009. The Initiative, chaired by Secretary of Education John King and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and led by Executive Director Doua Thor, works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs, where AAPIs remain underserved.
The Executive Order also established the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs and the Initiative’s Interagency Working Group . The Commission comprises community and business leaders who serve as the eyes and ears of the Administration. The Interagency Working Group , representing 24 federal agencies and offices, is charged with creating and implementing strategic agency plans to help increase the AAPI community’s access to federal resources. In 2013, the Initiative launched its Regional Network – more than 200 federal officials from regional offices across the country working to connect local AAPI communities to federal resources. In 2014, the Initiative started its E3! Ambassadors Program, enlisting young leaders to “educate, engage, and empower” their campuses and communities on key issues.
Through its innovative approaches ranging from interagency collaboration to on-the-ground community outreach, the Initiative seeks to highlight both the tremendous unmet needs in the AAPI community as well as the dynamic community assets that can be leveraged to meet many of those needs.