Thursday, November 28, 2013

The P.I.A. project turns three!

Three years ago this month, the Pacific Islander Access project was incorporated as a nonprofit in Washington DC.  Our vision was to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that would zero in on a problem that wasn't being addressed adequately at the time: that despite being underrepresented in higher education, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders were being excluded from most academic programs for underrepresented minorities. We also had an unusual strategy: we would be run entirely by volunteers, and keep expenses to no more than a few hundred dollars each year.

In the thirty-six months that followed, we made gradual progress that we are very proud of. In the first two years, that included:

  • Developing the nonprofit's corporate governance structure, and handling the necessary filings that eventually allowed us to operate under 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
  • Maintaining and improving this blog, which provides anyone with internet access a one stop shop for information on this issue. 
  • Completing a national study on Pacific Islander eligibility for scholarships and fellowship for underrepresented minorities, which gave us 1.) a sense of the extent to which Pacific Islanders were being misclassified, and 2.) a concrete list of scholarships and fellowships for us to educate. 
With the research, legal structure, and communication means established, we've turned our attention to reaching out to underrepresented minority scholarships, educating them about Pacific Islanders, and persuading them to open their doors to this underrepresented group.  

The progress we've made in this area -- talking with well-intentioned underrepresented minority programs and helping them change their policies -- has been the most rewarding and impactful work we've done. We showcase the 13 programs that have changed their policies after hearing from the P.I.A. project on our "honor roll" page, which you can view here: link

Next post: In our next post, we'll return to the national study we conducted last year, and update you on where we are today. 


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