The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) was founded in 1992 under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO to reach out to Asian Pacific American (APA) workers, educate them about their rights in the workplace, and strengthen links between the diverse Asian Pacific American communities and the labor movement. APALA was incorporated in 1992 as a non-profit labor organization under 501(c)(5) and has a deep and established history of helming direct voter outreach in the APA community, and developing civic engagement capacity in local organizations.
In 2011, APALA established a 501(c)(3) Education Fund to expand and deepen its existing work in the Asian Pacific American community.
A Growing American Community
Asian Pacific Americans are a fast-growing population that is little understood or researched by most mainstream newspapers, polling firms and think tanks, despite achieving a population of 16.6 million according to the 2010 Census. APAs have had double and even triple digit growth in states such as Georgia, Virginia, and Nevada, which has seen 117 percent growth since the last Census. In larger states like California, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey, the rate of APA population growth actually outpaces that of Latinos.
Addressing the Participation Gap
By 2018, there will be a new majority in the United States. In 2018, for the first time, African Americans, Latinos, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and unmarried women will be the majority of the American citizen voting age population. This new majority is not represented in our democracy even as our population surges. Our voter registration rate –and therefore our participation in democracy – lags behind the rest of the population. Asian Pacific America register 20% less than the US population and there is a 1.7mil voter registration gap. For the APA youth vote, there was an 11 point turnout increase in 2008 from 2004 – more than any other ethnic group (CIRCLE Fact Sheet., Oct. 2010). The APALA Ed Fund wants to maintain a similarly high level of turnout for 2012.
Mobilizing Asian Pacific Americans
The APALA Education Fund builds the capacity by facilitating the education, training, and development of local, state, and national partners to engage the APA community. It heads a table of national APA organizations that engage in civic participation. The Ed Fund also has an innovative Generations United program, the Education Fund develops current and future APA youth leaders on campuses and worksites by pairing them with seasoned organizers and rank and file activists. The Ed Fund provides electoral trainings and toolkits for youth to reach out to peers and educate older voters, hosting educational forums on issues important to APAs, and provides translations of educational materials and voting rights information. This whole family approach amplifies APA voices at the local, state, and national levels by mobilizing grassroots power to win concrete victories.