About the Ascend Impact Fund
The Fund, part of the Ascend Foundation, focuses on raising awareness of the history and prevalence of anti-Asian racism through expanding advocacy, allyship, education, and community engagement to create sustainable change. This Fund will accelerate change by continuing Ascend’s 16-plus years of work building holistic Pan-Asian leaders and expanding the focus of its 5-Point Action Agenda, launched last year in partnership with over 150 organizations and supporting companies.
“We believe that corporate leaders have a pivotal role to play right now to foster a workplace culture that actively breaks down the ‘model minority myth,’ a term used to refer to a minority group perceived as particularly successful, and in a manner that contrasts with other minority groups, and stem the rising tide of anti-Asian sentiments,” said Anna W. Mok, president and executive board chairman of Ascend. “Companies and communities can only succeed over the long term if they promote an environment of inclusivity and belonging, and act as champions for underrepresented members and those of diverse heritages. Along with our partners we have been doing the work, but we recognize we still have more to do in the coming years.”
The Ascend Impact Fund has received six-figure commitments from inaugural donors EY US, U.S. Bank, Electronic Arts, L’Oréal USA, Pfizer, and Verizon.
The Impact Fund encourages corporate members and peer allies to work together in creative ways to engage with local communities and promote greater racial equity and harmony in the workforce.
In addition to spreading awareness and encouraging action, the Fund will support the Ascend Foundation’s data-driven research to measure the progress of Pan-Asians and other underrepresented groups in leadership roles and identify the factors that contribute to leadership, workforce and population gaps.
“Our ability to call on strategic partners like Ascend is essential as we think about how to do work that benefits all our stakeholders,” said Andy Cecere, U.S. Bank chairman, president and CEO. “This five-year commitment to the Ascend Impact Fund helps create more awareness of — and actually challenges — the model minority myth, which will help us with our own employees’ development, and more broadly, combat the challenges many Pan-Asian professionals face in corporate culture.”
Addressing Hate Incidents and Discrimination
Against the backdrop of an ongoing global pandemic and tense national discourse on race and anti-Asian bias, new data from Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition aimed at addressing discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, show that 6,603 hate incidents were reported to the organization between mid-March 2020 and March 31, 2021. In March 2021 alone, there was a 74% increase in hate incidents reported.
Ascend believes it is a crucial time to take action and recognize, value, and support the contributions and influence of the approximately 23 million Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the United States, who make up 13% of the country’s professional workforce.