Standing on the steps of City Hall, hundreds of community members, service providers, advocates and councilmembers gathered to fight for budget equity for the Asian Pacific American (APA) population in New York City as part of the 15% & Growing Campaign, led by the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families (CACF).
Sapna’s Executive Director Diya Basu-Sen gave a speech at the rally, emphasizing the need for our elected officials to support and invest in NYC’s diverse APA communities.
“APAs are the fastest growing group, but investment in our communities isn’t even close to where it should be. Our communities are in need with the highest rates of poverty, low English proficiency, and high rates of uninsured or underinsured. We make up over 15 percent of the city’s population but receive less than five percent of city funding. It isn’t enough. For a city that prides itself on diversity and sees itself as a haven for immigrants, equity and inclusion shouldn’t be a big ask.”
Some of Sapna’s community members made the trek down from the Bronx to City Hall to participate in the rally and learn from the experience.
“I believe this [rally] is beneficial towards our community. I believe that it is helpful towards Asian rights,” said Rashida Chowdoury, who has attended the rally in the past as well. “Gaining our rights is very important. Since women stay a lot in the house, if they attend this event they can learn a lot. We all are equal, so we should be represented fairly in the budget”
Other community members echoed Rashida’s sentiment and added that they enjoyed seeing so many different people from different cultures at the rally. They were also happy to hear from community leaders and political representatives in support of the APA community in New York City.
The lack of adequate funding impacts APA New Yorkers, of which nearly 50 percent are Limited English Proficient. It is organizations like Sapna, who provide culturally competent and linguistically accessible services, that are best equipped to meet the needs and serve the APA community. This year, the campaign focused on restoring and expanding city-wide initiatives such as career and college readiness, legal services, digital inclusion, mental health services and job training.