Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is the Pacific Islander Access project?

Q. What is the Pacific Islander Access project?

A. The P.I.A. project is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to helping academic programs for underrepresented minorities choose to include Pacific Islanders alongside other minorities that are underrepresented in higher education.

The Pacific Islander Access project is a lean organization run entirely by volunteers who know that this issue is important enough for us to to this for free. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in Washington, DC.

Though we've only been incorporated since 2010, our work to increase Pacific Islander access to higher education programs goes back to 2003, when one of our founders applied for an underrepresented minority fellowship, and was told that Pacific Islanders weren't eligible. He helped that program change its practices. After that he went on to do a national study, which found that many other scholarships and fellowships didn't recognize that Pacific Islanders were underrepresented.

Years later, after revisiting the old study, he found that while some of the academic programs now included Pacific Islanders, others still didn't. Following a few conversations about what it would take to end Pacific Islander exclusion, it became clear that if we wanted academic programs to change their policies, we needed to help them understand why.

With that goal in mind, he and others started a project to increase Pacific Islander access to academic programs for underrepresented minorities. They decided to call the project to increase their access to higher education exactly just that -- the Pacific Islander Access project.

Want to know more about our leadership?  Click here to read the personal stories of each of our board members, as they explain why the P.I.A. project matters to them: LINK

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