Asian Pacific American Cultural Arts Foundation (APACAF) is a 501(c)3 not for profit organization founded in November 2000. Its mission is to preserve cultural heritage through the exchange and exhibit of the performing arts, educational, cultural, and social functions between ethnic groups of Asian heritage in America. APACAF supports projects that are charitable, educational, recreational, and address social welfare purposes. APACAF is located in Falls Church, Virginia.
How APACAF Has Evolved
Asian Pacific American Cultural Arts Foundation (APACAF) is a volunteer-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in November 2000. Over the years, APACAF has raised cultural awareness among Asian American youth and the mainstream population by sharing rich traditional culture and history through songs, skits, dance, and drama through various venues. Leveraging its resources, APACAF has organized cultural events and performances to raise funds to support youth programs and activities for at-risk adolescents by assisting them in academic subject areas and providing them with leadership development opportunities.
After multiple ad hoc tutoring sessions provided by volunteers, APACAF established SATonSat (Scholastic Aptitude Testing preparation course on Saturdays) in 2006 to prepare students in grades 7 through 10 for the PSAT and SAT with strong emphasis on math, reading, writing, reasoning skills, as well as presentation skills. The SATonSat program is not a traditional test preparation program; the focus is not on how to take tests. Instead, SATonSat focuses on building a strong foundation for math, English reading comprehension and writing through a student-centered collaborative learning approach. Students in this program are not benchmarked and instructors do not track grades or progress so that students can learn in a relaxed environment without feeling pressure to meet certain benchmarks at a certain time. Students are encouraged to learn at their own pace. The major requirement to participate in the SATonSat program is that students have to want to learn.
To support the SATonSat program, APACAF implemented a system to sustain volunteers and motivate students by providing incentives for high achieving students enrolled in the program. Students have an opportunity to compete for a teaching assistant (TA) position, where paid stipends are provided. APACAF’s TAs are college and outstanding high school students who serve as peer tutors; they are given a chance to develop their leadership skills under the guidance of adult volunteer professionals.
In addition, APACAF has been supporting boys and girls scouting initiatives by providing small funds called “camperships” for scouts who want to attend character building and leadership development camps, but have limited family resources. APACAF also supports scouting activities in raising funds for medical and disaster relief efforts.
In 2010, APACAF began to support VATV (Vietnamese American Television), a community based program that produces and broadcasts mini shows in the Vietnamese language to preserve cultural heritage. Through this opportunity, a pilot program called Youth in Media was explored, providing three youth interns with the opportunity to travel to the Gulf Coast to cover the 2010 Oil Spill Disaster and its effects on the Vietnamese community in that area. Interns were also allowed the chance to travel to Haiti to bring collected donations and cover the post-earthquake relief efforts. (Note: VATV has established its own separate nonprofit organization and received its 501(c)3 status in 2018.)
Due to the positive responses received by the youth participants, their parents, and viewers, APACAF organized a fall musical fundraiser to sustain the program in 2011. Students who participated in Youth in Media had an opportunity to learn about and bridge Vietnamese and American cultural understanding in their projects while having the opportunity learn more about media arts.
Youth in Media is a sustainable program that allows youth, whose interest is in media and journalism, an outlet to intern and gain hands-on experience to media arts. Shows that are produced relate to news and events that impact Asian American youth; programs and are aired on SBTN (a national satellite network based on California that serves the Vietnamese community at-large) and selected episodes are posted on VATV’s YouTube channel online.
In 2012, APACAF conducted an informal needs assessment among SATonSat participants, parents, and the scouting community. Through this assessment, it was found that there was a need to expand students’ interest and learning in STEM related activities to complement their academic learning in school. Volunteers from APACAF attended a meeting with the Boy Scouts of America to discuss this need and obtain their permission to adopt their STEM program in a pilot project called Scouting Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (SSTEM) the summer of 2013 at James Lee Community Center. Since then, APACAF has made modifications to the program, including a STEM Open Lab program at James Lee Community Center from 2013 – 2014. The program was offered as STEM alongside the SATonSat program with a focus on teaching students coding and computer program using Python.
In 2013, APACAF established the “Arts N’ Souls Academy” to provide students of all ages an opportunity to engage in cultural arts activities such as dance, music, drawing, painting, etc. This program ties back to the numerous volunteer-based performing arts shows that APACAF sponsored since its inception.
In 2018, APACAF reorganized its youth programs under the collective name of “E-STEAM,” which includes the former SATonSat, STEAM, Youth-in-Media, and Arts N’ Souls Academy. E-STEAM classes are usually offered on Saturdays with training events in the summer.
APACAF also serves as a fiscal agent for community and volunteer-based groups that are organized for charitable, educational, recreational, and social welfare purposes. These groups serve families that may be experiencing financial burdens.