API RISE seeks to empower the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American communities— specifically individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. The organization aspires to celebrate diversity through inclusion and to build upon knowledge, resources, and organizing to undo the stigma and shame that silences API youth, formerly and currently incarcerated people, and their loved ones.
API RISE seamlessly transitioned their founding director Duc Ta to an advisory role and hired two new co-directors: Billy Taing, a formerly incarcerated Cambodian refugee, and Diane Ujiiye, a pastor and lifelong activist. During their first six months as co-directors, Billy and Diane welcomed two new staff, Mike and Thailee, both formerly incarcerated leaders, who support their member outreach and community care.
API RISE’s programs have evolved and expanded. API RISE’s member/community care program includes monthly meetings for impacted community members; reentry transition support; pardon application support; performance art training; storytelling; healing circles; and life coaching. Staff are building skills for trauma-informed, culturally sensitive care and legal support. API RISE is ramping up its Prison In Reach program to seamlessly connect to its Care Support program. Advocacy efforts include supporting the VISION Act, working with ICE Out of California, leading clemency fights, and focusing on local policy to uplift the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander deported returnees. API RISE continues to build solidarity through violence programming with our Latina/Latino and Black communities.
API RISE has its eye on a sustainable and abundant future for its members. In 2021, they conducted a feasibility study and built a business plan on a social enterprise model. Using that as a framework for the future, they aim to train members through their reentry program, building job skills while creating a revenue stream to support the nonprofit work. Another dream of API RISE is to offer transitional housing to support their growing returnee community and build a place-based, sustainable support system. API RISE seeks advising, investment, and support to further explore and launch these efforts.