To improve the well-being of Asian Pacific Americans by ensuring their access to participation in the fields of government, business, education, and other areas. (Chapter 43.117 RCW)
Due to pervasive discrimination and barriers in accessing government services, a group of local Asian American and Pacific Islander community members met with the Governor in 1971 to examine a broad range of issues facing the AAPI population in the areas of employment, education, social services, community development, immigration, and civil rights.
In January 1972, Governor Dan Evans created The Governor’s Asian Advisory Council by executive order. On February 26, 1974, the 43rd Washington State Legislature formally created The State of Washington Commission on Asian American Affairs as a state agency. On April 17, 1995, Governor Mike Lowry signed a bill to change the Commission’s name to The State of Washington Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs to include Pacific Islanders.
In order to meet its mission, the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs serves several functions and roles. Among them are:
- Research and analysis. To examine and define AAPI issues and to make recommendations to the governor, legislators, and state agencies with respect to desirable changes in program and law.
- Advisory and Advocacy. To advise the Governor and state and local public officials on the development and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies, plans, and programs focusing on the special problems and needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Education. To educate the AAPI communities about laws, programs, and policies that affect its well-being.
- Conduit and consultant. To make government more accessible by serving as a conduit and consultant between AAPI communities and state agencies.
- Resource. To serve as a resource through research and educational materials, technical assistance, agency referrals, casework, and community forums.
- Education: Access to quality, affordable, safe and culturally inclusive education.
- Heath Care: Access to quality, affordable and culturally appropriate health and social services.
- Economic Development: Equitable participation in economic, community, and workforce development.
Over the past 40 years, the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs has engaged in advocacy, community education, and outreach, as well as interagency and community collaborations, to improve the well-being of the APA communities. Among its past and current activities are:
- Establishes and maintains AAPI organizations and coalitions to address AAPI issues.
- Organizes and helps coordinate AAPI conferences and community forums to identify, prioritize, and address AAPI issues.
- Works with state agencies and community organizations to address legislation on a federal and local level.
- Issues reports on the state of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington.
- Updates communities on legislation and policy making.
- Serves on committees and task forces providing a voice for the AAPI communities.
- Coordinates statewide APA Heritage Month celebrations in the month of May and assists with APA Legislative Day.
In June 2016, the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs updated its brochure and translated it into 13 different Asian and Pacific Islander languages.