By Ahmed V. Ortiz
Sacramento State joins universities across the nation this week in celebrating its status as an Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).
AANAPISIs provide often critical support to Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) students in 29 states, including services to improve retention, graduation, and language access among low-income APIA students.
Sac State’s focus for the AANAPISI Week celebration is primarily on a campus, regional, statewide, and national media campaign surrounding the week, said Professor of Ethnic Studies Timothy P. Fong, director of the University’s Full Circle Project.
The University has received two AANAPISI grants from the U.S Department of Education: $1.8 million in fall 2011 for the Full Circle Project (FCP) and $1.75 million in 2016 to increase graduation rates for low-income and first-generation APIA and other high-need transfer students. The current grant expires in October 2021.
According to a report by the CSU, approximately 35% of Asian students classified as “non-underrepresented” should be considered underserved and provided additional support on their path to a college degree.
Among AANAPISI Week’s aims is to bring attention to and refute “the ‘model minority’ myth that says, basically, all Asians are high achievers in higher education,” Fong said.
FCP implements a strategically focused, campus-wide effort to improve retention and graduation rates of underserved APIA and other high-need students.
The opening of the new Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Student Center at Sac State is another sign of attention to, and support of, the diversity of the University’s students.
In California, AANAPISIs serve primarily community colleges and the CSU, which 80% of the state’s APIA college students attend, Fong said. Only 8% of all U.S. colleges and universities were AANAPISI-eligible in 2016, but they enrolled nearly 50% of all APIA undergraduate students, according to OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates. That organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 50 chapters and affiliates throughout the country dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of APIAs.
The AANAPISI program is one of eight federally designated Minority-Serving Institutions programs. Sac State earned its designation in 2010, when the University’s enrollment met the U.S. Department of Education’s 10% enrollment threshold of Asian and Pacific Islander American students, most of whom are low income. Sac State also has been a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) since 2015.