Advancing Justice | AAJC Awards Stipends to Five Student-Led Projects

Youth Leadership Summit Alumni Receive Funding for Projects on Campuses in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144

Washington, D.C. — Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) announces today it has awarded five stipends to student leaders to support campus-based projects that elevate Asian American and Pacific Islander stories and experiences and advance dialogue, advocacy, and civic engagement within our communities. These projects will be implemented at Smith College, University of Chicago, University of Colorado, University of Notre Dame, and University of Pennsylvania. In September, Advancing Justice | AAJC hosted its 2018 Youth Leadership Summit, an annual three-day convening for college students with advocacy trainings and leadership development workshops focused on civic engagement. The Summit provides a unique opportunity for young advocates from across the country to interact with their peers as well as learn from and network with national leaders. Advancing Justice | AAJC awarded stipends to support five Youth Leadership Summit alumni in their continued work on campus around issues impacting AAPI communities and creative approaches to elevating AAPI stories, experiences, and leadership.

Eric Wang, University of Chicago

Eric partnered with the University of Chicago’s PanAsia Solidarity Coalition to host a panel about the undocumented AAPI community. Panel speakers included representatives and students from local AAPI organizations. The panel focused on the work of Chicago AAPI organizations in serving undocumented people. Open to the campus community, the panel aimed to inform people about the work of local organizations.

Gargi Purohit, University of Notre Dame

Gargi is the lead researcher, founder, and creator of a new video series focused on the AAPI immigrant community and undocumented movement. The goal of the video series is to combat misconceptions that exist around immigration and the undocumented community and increase awareness around the fundamentals of immigration policy, addressing questions such as: What is DACA?  Who are the DREAMers? What is the DREAM Act? The videos will explain key legislative pieces in the undocumented movement and also highlight the contributions of AAPIs.

Luke Kertcher, University of Pennsylvania

Luke is a co-chair for the University of Pennsylvania’s Asian American Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board. The Asian American Studies Program and Undergraduate Advisory Board are hosting the State of Asian American Studies Summit, a gathering of student activists and advocates of ethnic studies from around the country. Throughout the one-day summit, students, faculty, and advocates will share resources and organizing strategies, network, and build coalitions with one another. Attendees discuss how they can support each other in their movements to establish Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies programs, build legitimacy as an academic discipline, advocate for expanded resources, and push the boundaries of the field. The summit will include student-led workshops, guest speakers, and opportunities to network with faculty.

Mieko Kuramoto, Smith College

Mieko is the Co-President and Founding Member of Smith College’s Pan Asians in Action (PAIA) and a Youth Representative of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) National Youth/Student Council.  PAIA, Latin American Students Organization (LASO), and Organizing for Undocumented Students Rights (OUSR) partnered with the JACL to host Incarcerated by Executive Order: Japanese Internment Camps and Immigration Detention Centers Today in December 2018. The event centered on a discussion of racialized immigration policy, detention, and lesser citizenship, particularly focusing on the historic and modern parallels between the early-20th century Japanese American community and modern-day Latin American immigrants. Mieko used this opportunity to build community and connect the AAPI, LatinX, and undocumented communities through activism. The event included keynotes by professors Franklin S. Odo, Amherst College, and David Hernández, Mount Holyoke College, as well as a panel discussion and student-led workshop.

Serene Singh, University of Colorado

Serene is the founder of the National Sikh Youth Program (NSYP), the U.S.’s first large-scale Sikh youth-led initiative intended to challenge hate and violence against religious communities, like Sikhs, worldwide. The NSYP aims to empower 100 high school Sikh youth with organizational, project management, leadership, fundraising, and public speaking tools. Through the yearlong mentorship program as well as the annual Summit, in which over 200 public servant leaders who are passionate about ending religious-motivated attacks and violence will be in attendance, students will create sustainable and creative projects at local levels in U.S. communities. Each NSYP delegate is required to return home and complete their respective project during the year which can be anything from fundraisers, community kitchens (langar), “learn about religions days,” art exhibits, and more. The NSYP will officially launch in January 2019.

Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to host the Youth Leadership Summit in partnership with State Farm and Charter Communications. We are excited to support the creativity and leadership of our young leaders on campuses across the country.