AYPAL started in 1998 in response to increasing gang activity, truancy, and substance abuse issues among low-income Asian and Pacific Islander (API) youth. The project was also formed to address the marginalization of API youth voices in the burgeoning Bay Area youth movement.

AYPAL’s strategy to engage young people in school and neighborhood reform campaigns served as a positive alternative to high-risk activities. Simultaneously, young people in the program developed the cultural capital and confidence to meaningfully participate in multi-racial social justice initiatives.

Since its founding, AYPAL has developed the leadership of over 500 Youth Leaders and has engaged over 5,000 young people in grassroots campaigns. More importantly, the organization is now a vital home where youth from different schools, neighborhoods, and ethnicities can gather to learn, discuss, and collectively change the adverse conditions impacting their lives.

AYPAL is a leader in the education justice movement. They are the only organization in California that organizes low-income immigrant and refugee API families around reforms in public education.