May Nonprofit Spotlight

Asian Americans United

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we have selected the Asian Americans United for May’s Nonprofit Spotlight!

Who They Are:

Asian Americans United exists so that people of Asian ancestry in Philadelphia exercise leadership to build their communities and unite to challenge oppression. AAU was founded in 1985 by a small group of activists seeking to create an organized response to rising issues of anti-Asian violence, substandard housing, and education rights for non-English speaking Asians in the city. Today, AAU leverages its 35 years of organizing experience, community connections, and civic presence to empower Asian community members to uncover their shared challenges and develop strategies to address their intersectional needs.

Since it began, AAU has served Philadelphia’s Asian, primarily recent immigrant, low income community. Because Asian immigrants and refugees are not only racial minorities, but also tend to have limited English language skills, they have difficulty accessing services, holding institutions accountable, and acquiring resources for their neighborhoods. Existing public institutions have been ill-equipped to service the needs of growing and diverse refugee and immigrant communities.

AAU’s programs respond to specific needs and help them achieve their ultimate goals in three areas: advocacy and civic engagement, youth leadership, and reclaiming culture. AAU’s programs impact a minimum of 5,000 people annually and more than 600 youth and children directly. Youth in the AAU programs develop broader awareness of social issues and needs as well as increased confidence in expressing their concerns and taking action. People who have gone through AAU’s leadership programs go on to make an impact in their communities. AAU’s investment in Asian community leadership creates a stronger Philadelphia nonprofit sector and a more engaged community.

What kind of support does Asian Americans United need the most right now?

AAU really appreciates all the different offers of support that people have been sending since March 16th. They range from help with building things in their garden to many offers for volunteer help. They also have received some donations and been the recipient of several fundraising efforts. Among other things, the donations are helping them to support some of their vaccine outreach efforts in hard to reach, non-English proficient communities as well as some of their ongoing advocacy work against Anti-Asian violence and education within their communities on anti-Black racism. They are so grateful for all these kinds of support!

What is one thing you wish people knew about Asian Americans United that they may not?

It is important for people to know that AAU is in its 36th year of work. Its leaders and volunteers have poured their hearts, creativity, and passion into what they have accomplished for three and a half decades! The results are pretty outstanding (including the building of the only public school in Chinatown – which is now one of the state’s blue ribbon schools) as well as the Annual Chinatown Mid-Autumn Festival. All of their work, however, is fueled by ongoing need for advocacy against very hard incidents and conditions their communities face. They would ask people to watch their most recent Teach-In on anti-Asian Violence organizing throughout AAU’s history. The content is important and very few people know this history.

What is the most unique donation Asian Americans United has received?

AAU really appreciated a recent offer to buy their staff lunch. Their staff works really hard on slim resources and so this support was really nice! They also have loved occasional offers of space that they could use in pretty and healthy settings where they can do strategic thinking and planning when they can grab a minute. AAU also receives any number of things that community members bring to thank them for services they receive (they don’t charge money for almost all of what they provide). Sometimes they bring AAU food, plant starts, or household goods when they are moving away. Oh, and they sometimes get things like garden dirt and compost for their community garden!

For more information, feel free to visit their website: