White House Initiative Visits Springdale to Focus on Marshallese Community

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Cisneros Center for New Americans, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, and Marshallese Educational Initiative partnered with The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) to host a roundtable assessment of federal programs serving Northwest Arkansas’ Asian and Pacific Islanders population.

The June 13th event was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Springdale, AR, and included breakout sessions with federal agencies explaining the programs and services they offer, as well as opportunities for participants to interface with panelists and give feedback on further needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander population in Northwest Arkansas.

Though the roundtable assessment focused on issues of importance for Northwest Arkansas’ large Marshallese population, participants representing Northwest Arkansas’ Indian, Hmong, and Chinese communities attended this event and benefitted from hearing about federal programs available to them. Participants provided feedback on specific community needs, and WHIAAPI as well as federal agencies like the Social Security Administration and the Department of Labor began talks of a return visit to address issues like AAPI community rights and responsibilities.

“It is so important for us at WHIAAPI to visit communities like Northwest Arkansas and learn about their specific needs and concerns because our goal is to improve the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs through increased access to and participation in federal programs where they remain underserved” said Dave Hung, Regional Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to partner with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as well as Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese and Marshallese Educational Initiative to raise awareness about federal programs that serve our Asian American and Pacific Islander community. It’s powerful to interact with so many participants in the event who really feel they gained useful knowledge of services that will improve the lives of their families and their communities,” said Cisneros Center Director of Programs and Operations Carrie Wolk.

On October 14, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Executive Order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative). The Initiative, chaired by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, is housed within the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs where they remain underserved.

Founded in 2014, the Cisneros Center works to ensure that every American, whether native born or adopted by our nation, has the opportunity to achieve their American Dream. Henry Cisneros, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, founded the 501(C)(3) non-partisan, non-profit institution to bring together the philanthropic, non-profit, government, faith-based, and private sectors and align their efforts to create clear avenues of opportunity for New Americans.

Founded in 2011, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese is organized exclusively for educational purposes, more specifically to improve the quality of life for the greater Marshallese Community by improving access to and reducing barriers to healthcare, education, communication, justice, and supporting the Marshallese culture through meaningful partnership and multicultural collaboration.

The Marshallese Educational Initiative (MEI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Springdale. Our mission is to raise historical and cultural awareness of the Marshallese and facilitate cross-cultural dialogue. Founded in 2013 by professors April Brown and Jessica Schwartz, MEI was created to blend scholarly research with practical outreach efforts to create awareness on a national stage, while also making a real difference in the lives of individual Marshallese. MEI programming focuses on promoting cultural and historical awareness through events and workshops, increasing the educational attainment levels of Marshallese in the region, and raising awareness of the linked global issues of our shared nuclear legacy and climate change, including its impact on Marshallese culture and its role in migration to the region.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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