AAPI Heritage


APA Heritage Awards 2022

The APA Heritage Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultural heritage and fostering community collaboration. Every year, dedicated volunteers on the APA Heritage Celebration Committee  coordinate resources to support AAPI Heritage Month. To start the month of May, the Foundation hosts the APA Heritage Awards and Reception, a signature San Francisco event honoring AAPI organizations and individuals. To engage the community, the Foundation curates the AAPI Heritage Month Celebration Guide, which showcases AAPI events, activities, and educational opportunities from official celebration partners: Asian Art Museum, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), and San Francisco Public Library. Through a marketing campaign involving over 100 publicity partners and media sponsors, the Foundation amplifies awareness of the month and its significance within the community.

Origin of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In the United States, the month of May each year is celebrated as Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The first celebration began as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week” on May 4, 1979, when President Jimmy Carter signed Proclamation 4650 to commemorate the contributions and accomplishments of Asian/Pacific Americans. In 1990, Congress expanded the observance from a week to a month. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush passed Public Law 102-540 designating the month of May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

In 2005, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom embraced the proposal by former OCA National President Claudine Cheng to launch an annual official city of San Francisco celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The Mayor’s APA Heritage Celebration Committee, composed of a diverse group of APA community representatives, was established to coordinate this community celebration. In 2010, the APA Heritage Foundation was incorporated as a nonprofit organization to help secure sponsorships and resources needed to carry on the annual festivities.

On April 29, 2022, President Joe Biden proclaimed May 2022 as ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, And Pacific Islander Heritage Month.’

In 2022, San Francisco renamed the celebration to ‘Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.’

Over the years, this annual community celebration has been made possible through the generous support of businesses and community sponsors as well as professional services.

Congressman Norman Mineta (CA)

In the mid 1970s, a nationwide advocacy campaign was launched to obtain Congressional Resolution to designate one week in May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. This concept originated from Jeanie F. Jew, a staff person on Capital Hill at the time and a board member of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Ms. Jew was frustrated that Asian Pacific Americans were not included as a recognized community in the celebration of the United States Bicentennial and she would like to see the United States government acknowledge Asian Pacific Americans as part of the country. In addition, she also wanted to commemorate her great grand father who had worked as a labor in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

In June 1977, a bill (HJRes.540) was introduced by Congressman Horton, co-sponsored by Congressman Norman Mineta (CA), to call upon the President of the United States to proclaim the seven day period beginning May 4, 1979 as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week.”

Congressman Frank Horton (NY)

Consequently, Jeanie Jew enlisted the support of Ruby Moy, then an administrative assistant to Congressman Frank Horton (NY). In June 1977, a bill (HJRes.540) was introduced by Congressman Horton, co-sponsored by Congressman Norman Mineta (CA) to call upon the President of the United States to proclaim the seven day period beginning May 4, 1979 as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week.”

United States to proclaimed May 4, 1979 as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week.”

A few weeks later, a similar bill (SJRes.72) was introduced in the United States Senate by Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga. Both bills were subsequently revised to conform to the Census Bureau’s designation of the community as “Asian/Pacific” (SJRes.1007) rather than “Pacific/Asian.”

The drafter of the bills selected the week of May 4th because of two significant historical events that took place during that period: the arrival date of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States recorded on May 7, 1843, and the date of completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869.

The proposed legislation required the support and co-sponsorship of at least 218 members of Congress in order for the bill to pass the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee. An intense national advocacy campaign was launched. Jeanie Jew founded and chaired the National Coalition for an Asian/Pacific American Heritage Proclamation, and together with Ruby Moy, they also founded the Asian Pacific Congressional Staff Caucus.

Major national organizations that were involved in the advocacy of the passage of these bills were: Organization of Chinese Americans, Japanese American Citizens League, and the Organization of Chinese American Women. This was the first national advocacy campaign that involved the youth and young professionals in our community, notably members of Young OCA under the leadership of then OCA Executive Director Hayden Lee.

As a result of persistent efforts, the coalition was able to secured 231 Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor the bill, and the bills were passed by an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate.

On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed the Joint Resolution into law which proclaimed the week of May 4-11 Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

Meanwhile, the Joint Resolution adopted did not contain a provision for annual designation, and community organizations had to apply to Congress every year for the proclamation of Heritage Week. It took more than ten year of advocacy before the celebration was extended to include the entire month of May. On May 7, 1990, President George W. Bush signed into law proclaiming Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

In 1992, the Heritage Month celebration was finally institutionalized when Congressman Horton introduced legislation (HR 5572) to designate “May of each year as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.” The support for this proposed legislation was unanimous.

On October 23, 1992, community leaders from around the country witnessed a new chapter in Asian Pacific American history as the President signed into law proclaiming the month of May every year as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in perpetuity.

With this law, the President of the United States is “authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the month designated… with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.”

In addition to the Federal Proclamation, the law also provides for “State Proclamation,” so that “the Chief Executive Officer of each State is requested to issue annually a proclamation calling on the people of the State to observe the month designated… with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.”

‘Asian Americans’ is a five-hour film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

San Francisco Chronicle data visualization

Six maps show how San Francisco’s Asian population has changed

By  | 

San Francisco is home to nearly 300,000 Asians and Pacific Islanders. Equivalent to about a third of the city’s population, they make up the second largest race group, closely following the 39% white share.

But the city’s Asian and Pacific Islander population a half century ago was vastly different — in terms of both its size and composition of ethnicities. And while Chinatown was the most prominent Asian enclave back then, new immigrants have since settled into other areas, sprouting new ethnic communities across the city.

For this story, The Chronicle examined the Asian and Pacific Islander population for each decade from 1960 to 2020. The data is sourced from the decennial census and compiled by the University of Minnesota’s Population Center. Because the census asks people about their race and ethnicity in a survey, our findings are based on residents who self-identified as a particular race or ethnicity, and not a definitive count of Asians and Pacific Islanders. Moreover, the Census Bureau’s definition of “Asian” has changed since 1960, so counts between certain decades are not perfectly comparable. Still, we think this is the best available data that captures the vast majority of Asians and Pacific Islanders each year.

How many A’s in AAPI? Dolly & Adrian hear from South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander voices to explore the pros and cons of disaggregating Asian American as a statistical category.

A People’s History of Asian America is a series of thoughtful visual essays and explainers, hosted by Emmy award-winning journalist, Dolly Li, and Asian studies scholar and professor, Adrian De Leon. Each episode offers informed and empowering perspectives, helping to break down common microaggressions and racist stereotypes through the tools of ethnic studies. This series covers what your classic American school history textbook may not.

Publicity Partners 2024

Thank you to over 175+ organizations for partnering with us to promote the public awareness of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

  • AAPI Club Oceana High School
  • AAPI Dubs, Golden State Warriors Employee Resource Group
  • AAPI Society of The Battery
  • Academy of Art University
  • Albert’s List
  • American Red Cross, San Francisco Leadership Council
  • Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
  • APA Family Support Services
  • API Council
  • API Legal Outreach
  • Ascend Leadership, NorCal
  • Asian America Foundation
  • Asian American Women Artists Association (AAWAA)
  • Asian Art Museum
  • Asian Business League
  • Asian Firefighters Association
  • Asian Leaders Alliance
  • Asian Liver Center at Stanford University
  • Asian Pacific Fund
  • Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center
  • Asians Are Strong
  • AsianWeek Foundation
  • Australian Chamber of Commerce in SF
  • Bayanihan Community Center
  • Boys an Girls Clubs of San Francisco
  • California Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  • California-Japan Sister Cities Network
  • Center for Asian America Media
  • Charity Cultural Services Center
  • Children’s Creative Museum
  • Chinatown Community Development Center
  • Chinatown Merchants Association
  • Chinese American Citizens Alliance San Francisco Lodge
  • Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco
  • Chinese for Affirmative Action
  • Chinese Historical Society of America
  • Clarion Performing Arts Center
  • Coalition of Asian American Government Employees
  • Commonwealth Club of California
  • Community Youth Center of San Francisco
  • Contemporary Asian Theater Scene
  • Coro Northern California
  • Dear Community
  • Filipina Women’s Network
  • Filipino American Arts Exposition / Pistahan Parade and Festival
  • Filipino Arts & Cinema, International
  • Filipino Food Movement
  • First Voice
  • Florence Fang Community Farm
  • Fred Finch Youth & Family Services
  • Friends of Indonesia
  • Gamelan Sekar Jaya
  • Genryu Arts
  • GER Youth Center
  • GLBTQ+ Asian Pacific Alliance (GAPA)
  • IFundEducation
  • Indonesian American Community Outreach
  • Indonesian Diaspora Network, IDN Northern CA
  • Islands by the Bay Festival
  • GlobalSF
  • Green Sound
  • Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California (HCCNC)
  • Hep B Free
  • Japan Center Garage Corporation
  • Japan Center Malls
  • Japan Exchange & Teaching Program Alumni Association of Northern California (JETAANC)
  • Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program (JBBP) Rosa Parks
  • Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California (JCCNC)
  • Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC)
  • Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
  • Japantown Community Benefit District (JCBD)
  • Japantown Cultural District
  • Japantown Merchants Association
  • Japantown Task Force (JTF)
  • JCRC Bay Area
  • Justice for Vicha Ratanapakdee Foundation
  • Kimochi, Inc.
  • Kinmon Gakuen (Golden Gate Institute)
  • KOHO SF Japantown
  • Kokoro Assisted Living
  • Korean American Community Foundation of San Francisco,
  • Korean Center, Inc.
  • Korean Culture Center
  • Kultivate Labs
  • Legacies of the Pacific
  • Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at USF
  • Lestari Indonesia Dance
  • MiFaSol band
  • Millbrae Sister Cities Commission
  • Miss Asian Global Pageant
  • Mongolian Business Council of SF Bay Area
  • Mongolian Community Association of Bay Area
  • Nakayoshi Young Professionals
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals San Francisco
  • National Association of Asian American Professionals San Jose
  • National Japanese American Historical Society
  • NEXT Village SF
  • NextSF
  • Nichi Bei News
  • Nihonmachi Little Friends
  • Nihonmachi Street Fair, Inc.
  • No. CA Cherry Blossom Festival
  • North Beach Business Association
  • North Beach Neighbors
  • North East Medical Services
  • Northern California Chapter of Sister Cities International
  • Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
  • Northern Light School
  • Oakland Asian Cultural Center
  • Oakland Fukuoka Sister City Association (OFSCA)
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates: San Francisco Chapter
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates: San Mateo Chapter
  • Outer Sunset Merchant Professional Association
  • Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition (PAAWBAC)
  • Pacific Islander Community Partnership (PICP)
  • Pacific Islander Cultural Association
  • Paper Tree
  • Parangal Dance Company
  • Philippines Nurses Association of Napa (Solano)
  • Philippines Nurses Association of Northern California (PNANC)
  • Richmond Area Multi Services (RAMS), Inc.
  • Richmond District Neighborhood Center – One Richmond
  • Rotary Club of SF Chinatown
  • SALT Pacific Islander Association
  • Samoan Community Development Center
  • San Francisco – Ho Chi Minh City Sister City Committee
  • San Francisco – Manila Sister City Committee
  • San Francisco – Osaka Sister City Association
  • San Francisco – Seoul Sister City Committee
  • San Francisco – Taipei Sister City Committee
  • San Francisco Arts Commission
  • San Francisco Bar Association
  • San Francisco City Attorney’s Office
  • San Francisco Community Health Center
  • San Francisco Department of the Environment
  • San Francisco District Attorney’s Office
  • San Francisco Film Commission
  • San Francisco Human Rights Commission
  • San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development
  • San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
  • San Francisco Office of the Assessor – Recorder
  • San Francisco Police Department
  • San Francisco Public Defender’s Office
  • San Francisco Public Library
  • San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department
  • San Francisco Sheriff’s Department
  • San Francisco Sister City Committee
  • Sentro Filipino
  • SF Hep B Free – Bay Area
  • SF Japanese American Citizens League
  • SF LGBTQ Center
  • SF Unified Lions Club
  • SF Urban Film Festival
  • SOMA Pilipinas
  • South East Asian Community Center
  • South East Asian Development Center
  • SPUR
  • Stand with Asian Americans
  • Summer Search
  • Sunset Chinese Cultural District
  • Taiwanese Association of Professionals – SF Chapter
  • Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center
  • Tenderloin Community Benefit District
  • Tenderloin Merchants Association
  • The Battery API Society
  • The Fromm Institute For Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco
  • Together SF
  • United Peace Collaborative
  • United Playaz
  • Value Culture
  • Vietnamese American Organization
  • Wah Mei School
  • We Are One
  • West Bay Pilipino Multi Service Center
  • Yerba Buena Community Benefit District (YBCBD)
  • YMCA of San Francisco
  • Your Filipino Professionals Association

Our Team

Celebration Committee

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 2019

The annual San Francisco celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month is coordinated by community representatives who volunteer on the APA Heritage Celebration Committee.

2024 APA Heritage Celebration Committee

  • Claudine Cheng, Celebration Organizer
  • Al Perez, Celebration Co-Chair
  • Grace Horikiri, Celebration Co-Chair
  • Thomas Li, Celebration Co-Chair
  • Alvin Louie, San Francisco United Lions Club
  • Amy Lee, Dear Community
  • Angela Tjitradi, Friends of Indonesia
  • Annie Dare, Gum Moon Residence Hall
  • Carmen Colet, SF – Manila Sister City Committee
  • Chad Nico Hiu, YMCA of San Francisco
  • Coma Te, San Francisco Art Commission
  • Dennis Yee, OCA San Francisco Bay Chapter
  • Diana Vuong, Southeast Asian Community Center
  • G Preet Singh, Sister City International
  • George Saxton, SF – Ho Chi Minh City Sister City Committee
  • Hagen Choi, SF – Seoul Sister City Committee
  • Irene Ikemoto, Friends of AAPI Heritage Committee
  • JJ Lara, APA Heritage Foundation
  • Kathleen Kimura, SF – Osaka Sister City Association
  • Lucia Park, Korean Center of San Francisco
  • Monthanus Ratanapakdee, Justice for Vicha Ratanapakdee Foundation
  • Nina Diamzon, Legacies of the Pacific
  • Patsy Tito, Samoan Community Development Center
  • Richard Hashimoto, Japantown Merchants Association
  • Richard Jue, Nihonmachi Street Fair, Inc.
  • Rodney Chin, Kokoro Assisted Living
  • Ron Lee, American Chinese Culture and Art Association
  • Rose Chung, Asian America Foundation / Miss Asian Global Pageant
  • Susie Kagami, KOHO SF
  • Susie Willemsz-Geeroms, NAAAP San Jose
  • Valerie Sheibels, One Myanmar Community
  • Susie Kagami, KOHO SF
  • Susie Willemsz-Geeroms, NAAAP San Jose
  • Valerie Sheibels, One Myanmar Community

APA Heritage Foundation

2020 APA Heritage Foundation Board

The APA Heritage Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural heritage as well as to providing a forum for community collaborations.

Founded in 2009, the Foundation’s mission is to secure funding and other resources to support San Francisco’s annual celebration of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  Over the years, the organization’s purpose has been expanded to include the following: supporting diverse API art and cultural programs, creating opportunities for civic engagement and addressing pertinent issues impacting the API community.

Board of Directors

  • Claudine Cheng, President
  • JJ Lara, Board Chair
  • Suwandi Tandjung, Treasurer
  • Stephen Wilson, Secretary
  • Irene Yee Riley