We look back at 2010 recognizing the significant achievement of seeing the health reform law signed, and of the ongoing task of making it work for more and not less people in our community. It was a year where many close to us began to hurt more -- from the loss of jobs, closing of businesses, and home foreclosures. And, in the absence of any legislative changes to our immigration system, immigrant communities were subjected to continued and new measures to criminalize, discriminate, and deny them basic rights. We are reminded once again that change would not be easy. As organizations deeply rooted and directed by the leadership of low income immigrant communities, we are clear that we will not only persevere but overcome these hardships. Hence, our theme: “Marching On, Moving Forward, Getting Stronger.”
This year has been one of notable growth. We increased our presence in online social media. For the 2010 elections, our civic engagement team implemented sophisticated and diverse approaches to building the Korean American power voters that we first began to reach in 1996. Our community made great sacrifices in its commitment to create opportunities for immigration reform, including putting forth its best effort in dozens of rallies, mobilizations, media events, and educational workshops.
This year, we thrived from the leadership of many people who have been with us during difficult times and victories – people who made us stronger for their insights, humor, care, love, and dedication. It has been a year where we know that organizing grassroots power for immigrant rights and marginalized groups remains a steadfast commitment for the Korean Resource Center and NAKASEC.
Julie Kil Joo Lee Kurumada, Board Chair, NAKASEC
Zu Kim, Board President, Korean Resource Center
1 Voter Engagement
2 Organizing and Education
3 Access to Health Care
4 Immigrant Rights
5 Financial / Housing Empowerment
6 Social Services
NAKASEC and KRC strategize and improve upon methods for increasing the civic engagement of Korean American and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.
NAKASEC’s Power Vote 2010 strategy sought to empower each partner organization to outreach, educate and mobilize low propensity AAPI voters in their respective communities. Our targeted communities of voters were largely immigrant & refugee, limited English proficient and new voters.
In all, Power Vote 2010 reached Korean Americans, Cambodian Americans and Vietnamese Americans in 5 states; California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Texas. We reached over 30,000 voters through mailers, over 16,000 voters through live phone banking, over 10,000 voters through robo calls, and over 4,000 voters through canvassing.
Organizing and Education
NAKASEC worked closely with our affiliates in their efforts to organize Korean Americans. They include:
Youth organized by KRC in Southern California are training and collaborating to support social justice issues including immigrant student access to higher education.
Korean American high school students in Los Angeles dedicated to learning about political empowerment
AKASIA: KRC’s network of student leaders from college campuses in Southern California to provide a support network for AB540 and undocumented Korean American students.
2010 was the third year for the KRC and its co-affiliate KRCC to sustain the Dream Scholarship Fund for AAPI immigrant students.
In addition to year-round trainings with the organizing groups, the Summer Youth Empowerment Program is an annual 8-week program for local high school Korean American youth combining study with action.
Community Health Promoters (CHP) is a group of Korean American seniors who first gathered to organize the Fix 96 Campaign. They stayed together and have grown to a total of 100 seniors promoting access to health care and protecting language rights.
Access to Health Care
Passage of the national health reform law ushered the Korean Resource Center into a renewed focus on advocating on state budget reforms and on the implementation of provisions to advance affordability, immigrant inclusion, health equity, and language access. KRC is active on multiple coalitions including Having Our Say and the Health Rights Organizing Project.
Each year, the Korean Resource Center hosts two health fairs and montly 2nd Opinion Clinic in partnership with UCLA Family Medicine that serve more than 400 uninsured Koreatown residents in culturally competent and linguistically accessible ways. This is in response to the disproportionately high rate of uninsured among low-income Korean Americans.
The Immigrant Rights Project which focuses on immigration reform and immigrant integration is a signature program of NAKASEC, and this year was no exception. This past year, NAKASEC and its affiliates focused efforts to engage and organize Korean Americans and AAPIs deeply in California and Illinois and widely in other areas of the country, with a renewed emphasis on engaging mainstream and ethnic media to educate broadly; strengthening strategic alliances national and locally; and maintaining programs for NAKASEC and its affiliates to provide legal assistance and social supportive services to address immigration-related needs of Korean American community members. Major accomplishments amounted to highly visible engagement in public calls for immigration reform emanating from directly impacted communities, to build-up of political momentum for national landmark legislation such as the DREAM Act:
We organized a solidarity Trail of DREAMs walk in Los Angeles of 18 miles, one of two solidarity walks.
We reached out to Olympic Speedskater Simon Cho and organized a speaking tour with him to 5 elementary and secondary public schools in Los Angeles, spanning from East, West and downtown LA.
We became skilled at mobilizing contingents for rallies including March for America (Washington, DC), Immigration Reform Western Region Rally (Las Vegas), May Day (Los Angeles), and Trail of Dreams rally (Washington, DC) and 5 marches in Arizona to oppose racial profiling laws against immigrant and people of color.
We engaged DREAM eligible students, seniors, families, volunteers, board, staff and likeminded people to speak and share their experiences to educate others and strengthen us.
Financial / Housing Empowerment
As a part of a larger program goal of creating comprehensive economic empowerment among Korean Americans, NAKASEC and its affiliates reached out to 1,954 individuals with in-language counseling and education to improve credit and keep their homes and prevent foreclosure.
The Korean Resource Center provided critical social services including free low-income tax assistance, citizenship services, public health program services, language rights, English as a Second Language and Civics classes and access to education for 11,518 community members in Southern California.
At KRC, HanNuRi continues to provide poongmul (traditional percussion ensemble) classes to all ages and public performances to promote an appreciation of the Korean heritage. They also facilitate the growth of young Korean American children in the rendering of this folk art through Ba Ram So Ri.