White House Grants Aim For The Realities Behind The Asian ‘Model Minority’ Myth

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the U.S. and make up the largest share of recent immigrants. They represent 30 countries and ethnic groups that speak more than 100 languages.

The model minority myth, which suggests all Asians are bound for academic and occupational success, has prevented some AAPI communities from benefiting from federal funding and resources, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King said in May. The challenges, he said, are as “diverse as their communities.”

Although current data show AAPI students as a whole tend to be among the highest achieving in the U.S., some subgroups face academic and occupational challenges that are often overlooked under that broad AAPI banner. Indian-Americans, for example, tend to have higher educational success than Samoan-Americans, and there is higher unemployment among Filipino-Americans than there is among Japanese-Americans.

The initiative will allow state educational agencies to learn more about these subpopulations, beyond the seven racial and ethnic categories recognized in schools.

Christopher Kang, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, applauded the White House for the grants, describing the funding as “incredibly significant in addressing barriers to achievement.”

“The needs of AAPI students are far too often unknown and unfulfilled,” Kang said in a statement.

The grants are part of a program the White House announced in May, the AAPI Data Disaggregation Initiative, under which states can receive up to $1 million per year for five years to keep better track of the diversity in cultures, languages and educational challenges in the AAPI community.

It was unclear how much each state would receive with this grant. 

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