In light of the current economic climate, it has become particularly important for agencies geared toward social change to advocate on their own behalf for greater government funding and attention.
Toward this end, in 2008 Sakhi joined a coalition of Asian Pacific American social service organizations in New York City who have banded together in order to highlight unequal funding for our broad and diverse community.
Although Asian Pacific Americans are the fastest-growing community in the city and comprise an estimated 12% of its population, we receive less than 1% of public contract dollars and also less than 1% of private foundation dollars.
In response to this gap, a number of agencies formed a new coalition whose name was motivated by Sakhi’s own Executive Director, Purvi Shah: the 12% and Growing Coalition.
Purvi explained to Queens government officials during a February budget hearing, “As members of the 12% Coalition, we at Sakhi know that Asian Pacific Americans are the fastest growing group in New York City at nearly 12% of the population. Yet, our communities get only 0.24% of city social services contracts. Sakhi’s experience attests to this disparity. While 63% of our work goes to supporting city residents, nearly 5% to serve Long Island, and 4% across the rest of the state, in 2008, Sakhi received only 8% of our revenues from city and state funds. For the impact of the work we do, we deserve more.”
Although we frequently face a myth of being a “model minority”—composed largely of tech and IT workers and math whizzes—the reality is that Asian Pacific Americans face a great degree of linguistic isolation and have the second-highest rate of poverty in the city. Furthermore, a quarter who are 25 or older lack a high school diploma and a third of public high school students failed to graduate on time.
From Sakhi’s perspective of addressing domestic violence, it should be noted that the issue is a public health and economic concern: a 2003 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., estimated that domestic violence results in $728 million in lost productivity.
Therefore, the coalition has asked city and state governments to encourage and support community-based organizations that are central to our community’s health by allocating appropriate funding.
In response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pared-down proposed 2010 budget, for instance, coalition member Wayne Ho, of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, objected to the “severe cuts to education, health care, and support services that will hurt the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” and urged the city to “look at fair and progressive means at raising revenue” to protect key services.
Also along these lines, the coalition is mobilizing for a rally at City Hall on Thursday, March 5th to protest massive cuts.
- Read Purvi’s testimony