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Unifying APIDA Communities Together (U-ACT) at



By Madeline Lee, U-ACT Co-Investigator
October 25, 2023

In response to the dramatic surge in hate crimes, an interdisciplinary team of CSUSM faculty led by Dr. Theresa Suarez (Sociology) and joined by Dr. Madeline Lee (Social Work) and Dr. Christina Holub (Public Health), has been awarded one of 173 Stop the Hate Program grants from the California Department of Social Services.

With $600,000 awarded over two years, the team—named Unifying APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) Communities Together (U-ACT)—aims to better position CSUSM to address anti-Asian tension, hate, bias, and discrimination, as well as their consequences. U-ACT will provide needs assessment research, and consultation services, and facilitate support for prevention and intervention services primarily in Northern San Diego County through a collaboration with three community partners: 'UMEKE; Save Our Streets (SOS)/ Youth Opportunites Network, Inc.; and OCA Asian Pacific Americans Advocates - San Diego Chapter.

“It is refreshing that we’re comingtogether in this unified way.”

As the grant activities are getting underway, Leah Tsao, president of OCA APA shared that she is “inspired, energized, and looks forward to keeping the momentum going.” The grant partnership will help build their organizational capacity. Wayne Godinet, founder and director of SOS, expressed, “It is refreshing that we’re coming together in this unified way.” He recognizes this grant is uniquely bringing community organizations together with CSUSM, and it provides SOS with an opportunity to amplify their efforts to address community violence and fair and equitable access to public spaces. For founder and board president of ‘UMEKE and CSUSM alumna, Ilima Kam Martinez, being a partner for this grant has brought her full circle in her passion to preserve and perpetuate the culture and traditions of Hawai'i.

This collective work with community partners as U-ACT is an international expression of CSUSM's commitment to work with and for underserved priority populations in our midst—namely intergenerational Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, as well as Asian, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian communities. Ultimately, the goal is to build sustainable and sustaining cross-racial alliances and promote solidarity work.

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