Tina Shaw - Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs

iowa department of human rights

May 2019  Edition

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 


Commission of Asian & Pacific Islander (CAPI) Affairs


Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs


  • EducAsian Class of 2019: College & Career Prep. Initiative for High School Students

  • ECONOMY: The Economic Status of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
  • Guest APAHM Blog: Remembering Alita Siasoco

  • ECONOMY: API Consumer Data
  • Cultural Events & News: CelebrAsian, Siouxland Asian Fest, Cedar Rapids Asian Festival
  • ECONOMY: Digital Consumerism 
  • 2020 US CENSUS - Focus Group Study of Harder-to-Count Demographics
  • ELDERCARE: National Resource Center on AAPI Aging 
  • State Data Center: 2019 Asian & Pacific Americans in Iowa
  • REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: Central Iowa Summer Soccer & Summer Future Fest 
  • Next CAPI Public Meeting: Saturday, June 22 from 10:00 AM - Noon at West Des Moines Public Library located at 4000 Mills Civic Parkway, West Des Moines, IA 50265.


EducAsian - Class of 2019

EducAsian 2019 Ankeny

Iowa State University Tour - Hosts: ISU Office of Diversity and Inclusion & Asian Faculty and Staff Association

EducAsian 2019 Ankeny

DMACC-Ankeny - Plastic Injection lab demonstration

EducAsian 2019 Scholarship Winners

2019 EducAsian Scholarship Winners - Scholarships possible from community donations to CAPI & DMACC

Pictured:  An Phan, Educator - Des Moines Public Schools; Tha Ciang, Valley High School; Brad Spielman, Associate Provost - DMACC Urban; Michelle Yoshimura-Smith, CAPI Commissioner - Des Moines; Beh Meh, Hoover High School; James Suong, CAPI Commissioner - Des Moines; Dan Ho, Johnston High School; Ben Jung, CAPI Chair - Des Moines; Hsae Meh, Hoover High School; Vinh Nguyen, ELL Coordinator and Educator; and San Wong, Director of Iowa Department of Human Rights.  

Over 40 students participated in EducAsian – a six-Saturday college and career preparation course formatted for first-generation, college or career-bound Asian high-school students in Central Iowa. With the generous assistance of the Asian community and volunteers, the Iowa Commission of Asian & Pacific Islanders Affairs was able to offer EducAsian to foreign-born students and students of foreign-born parents seeking tools and options for life after high-school graduation.

This curriculum-based program provided high-utility content such as financial aid & literacy workshops; career planning; soft skills such as public speaking, college-essay writing, goal-setting & mapping techniques, along with networking opportunities with professionals in fields such as education, sciences, industrial trades and the National Guard. In addition to the line-up of workshops and professional guest lecturers, EducAsian high-school students toured Iowa State University (ISU) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) – Ankeny Campus.

Check out the highlights in this video http://bit.ly/2I7WJdV and the official Face Book page @EducAsian DSM

This endeavor was made possible with the strong support of our core partners: Mr. Vinh Nguyen; DMACC; ISU Office of Diversity & Inclusion; ISU Asian Faculty and Staff Association; CAPI’s volunteer commissioners, and DHR – Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs. We extend our appreciation to these businesses who provided donations for the ISU tour & graduation luncheon for our students and parents: Little Taipei in Ames; Hong Kong Restaurant in Des Moines; Vietnam Café in Merle Hay Mall; China Café in Johnston, Hien Lothi and individual, anonymous donors.

Congratulations to all of Iowa's Graduates!

Vel graduation

This graduation season, many in Iowa's growing API communities' hearts swell with pride with the accomplishments of the next generation who are graduating from pre-schools or with Doctoral Degrees. Many have overcome significant language barriers and cultural integration hurdles to secure the next classroom grade or next rung of the academic ladder. In many families, it will be a year of "firsts" - first to graduate high school, first to attend college or first to become a citizen.

Iowa is truly a place to realize dreams and where "grit and resilience" is valued and in high demand. In this spirit, we congratulate the many students like Velpipi who overcame significant barriers in order to complete her coursework and graduate from community college. Congrats to Vel!

Remembering Alita Villanueva Siasoco

Guest #APAHM Blogger: Dianne Siasoco, Alita's grand-daughter

Alita & Dianne Siasoco


“I tried like you told me to,” I wrote in a letter to my lola/grandma* when I was in elementary school.  I didn’t win the coloring contest I entered, but I made sure to tell her that I tried.  I grew up next door to my grandparents, Amado Sr. and Alita Villanueva Siasoco, on Trowbridge Street on the south side of Des Moines, Iowa.

Lola was an educator, which meant that I, and her 13 other grandchildren, would benefit from a mini-school environment during our time with her.  We would go to lola’s house to practice handwriting, do math worksheets, make sugared donuts, play instruments and mancala. 

She later moved to Council Bluffs; fortunately, lola loved to write and became the best pen pal to my cousins and me.  I am not the only family member who has a binder full of letters, cards, and worksheets from Lola. 

Once, when I was in middle school hanging out at her house, I decided that I didn’t have anything to do.  So, I told her, “Lola, I am sooo bored.”  She simply said, “Bored people are boring people.” 

I don’t remember if she explained what she meant because I was so angry at her for calling me boring.  But as I got older, I’ve come to understand what she meant by watching her.  Life is too short to be complaining about nothing to do - there is too much dancing, singing, learning, writing and traveling to do...

Click here to continue reading this blog.

- Author Dianne Siasoco earned her Master in Teaching degree and continues to work in the Education profession, along with 12 other family members (at last count).  Alita Siasoco, her lola, passed away on April 24, 2019, but her pursuit of knowledge, love of writing, and infinite curiosity will continue on in her family.

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 APAHM Cultural Events

CelebrAsian 2019 fashion

Now into the 17th year, CelebrAsian, Iowa's largest and longest-running Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival took place Memorial Day weekend in Des Moines with numerous cultural performances, a spectacular fashion show and a wide array of food vendors.

The Iowa Asian Alliance also awards scholarships to API high-school  graduates and current college students. 

SXC Asian Fest 2019

CAPI Commissioner and event organizer Peggy La invites you to attend the 8th Annual Siouxland Asian Fest taking place on June 15 in Sioux City.

This event honors the memory of former CAPI Commissioner, community advocate and soccer enthusiast George Sayavong.

See event page for additional details: http://bit.ly/2EDgARE

CA Asian Fest 2019save the date

AsianFest is a FREE event, held in the McGrath Amphitheatre in Cedar Rapids to celebrate and recognize culture and heritage from all over Asia located right in Eastern Iowa. Dine, dance, and develop an appreciation of the Asian communities in the area. Details at http://bit.ly/2XaHG9J

Schedule to be finalized, but you can expect the return of these favorites:

  • Local food vendors
  • Cultural Villages
  • Kid Zone, including a bouncy house and face painting
  • Live Performances
  • Interactive Displays
  • Annual fashion show

2020 US CENSUS - Focus Group Study

2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Focus Group Final Report A New Design for the 21st Century

This report presents the findings from the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Focus Groups conducted among racial and ethnic minorities, those with low internet proficiency, young people who recently moved, rural residents, and audiences at risk of low self response. Census was able to observe attitudes toward the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census form because the announcement happened during fielding. Results of the focus groups will be critical to developing the creative campaign and executing it for particular audiences of concern.

Source: US Census

Related Resource Portal: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) 

api 19

Annually for APAHM, the State Data Center and Office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs produces a data snapshot of Iowa's Asian & Pacific American communities.

To view the 2019 Asians and Pacific Americans in Iowa Report, visit the State Data Center website.


The Economic Status of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

This report provides an updated look at the economic situation of AAPI workers as well as context for the differences in economic outcomes experienced by Asian American and Pacific Islander workers relative to those of other groups.

US Department of Labor published a report in 2011 on the AAPI Labor Force and the recovery from the Great Recession. The Department then provided an updated report in 2014, which focused on the recovery years. As the recovery strengthens, this report again provides an updated look at the economic situation of AAPI workers as well as context for the differences in economic outcomes experienced by Asian American and Pacific Islander workers relative to those of other groups.

While aggregate statistics tell a largely positive story, the story is incomplete because it does not speak to two important factors: (1) there are substantial differences in the economic experiences of the subgroups that comprise the broader AAPI community, and (2) the broader AAPI community tends to have different characteristics than other groups, including higher educational attainment, that are related to their positive outcomes overall.

Only by disaggregating the data and looking at AAPI subgroups individually can [analysts] begin to gain an accurate understanding of how these workers and their families are faring in today’s economy.

Source: US Dept. of Labor

ECONOMY - API Consumer Data

Asian Americans Are a Rapidly Growing Buying Force

The Asian American and Pacific Islander demographic could be poised to become the nation’s largest minority group over the next few decades, according to the 2018-2019 State of Asia America report produced by the Asian Real Estate Association of America, in conjunction with RE/MAX and Freddie Mac. According to the report, the population’s close family ties, high education, entrepreneurial spirit, and higher household incomes are expected to have a big impact on the U.S. economy and housing market. 

Source: National Association of Realtors

ECONOMY - Digital Consumerism

Connectivity Drives the Asian American Consumer Journey

Asian Americans are among the most digitally enabled and tech-adopting consumers in the country–and that plays a big role in how this group is influenced, engages with brands, seeks out information makes purchase decisions and ultimately decides which products and services to buy. This process is often described as the path to purchase. Brands able to connect with Asian American consumers along this path can form mutually beneficial relationships with a powerful consumer group, while also peeking around the corner at the future of consumption among all consumers.

Source: Nielsen Report


National Resource Center on AAPI Aging

The National Resource Center on AAPI Aging is the nation’s first and only technical assistance resource center dedicated to building the capacity of long-term service and support systems to equitably serve AAPI older adults and their caregivers. Established in 2015 through a grant from the Administration for Community Living, NAPCA’s National Resource Center on AAPI Aging collaborates with mainstream aging organizations who specialize in mature workers, healthy aging, family caregiving, elder justice, dementia, and long-term services and supports portfolios. Through these partnerships, NAPCA’s cultural expertise informs the collaborative development of technical assistance for professionals, such as trainings, fact sheets, reports, and culturally and linguistically appropriate educational resources.

Source:  https://www.napca.org/resource/


Central Iowa Global Summer Soccer

A DHR Partnership with Genesis Youth Foundation

Registration is now open for the 2nd Annual Central Iowa Global Summer Soccer Program!  This program is open to middle and high school students who want to improve their game and increase their leadership skills.

Iowa youth entering grades 6 through 12 and 2019 high school grads are invited to join the Central Iowa Global Summer Soccer League presented by Genesis Youth Foundation in partnership with The Iowa Department of Human Rights, DMPS Community Education, and Kick It Forward.

Registration Link:  Genesis Youth Foundation


To cap off the soccer programming, a Summer Future Fest will be held the last day (August 3) for youth in grades 6 - 12 and recent high school grads. Youth are invited to connect with future employers, colleges, and community organizations and open their minds to the world of opportunities that are possible for their futures.

Summer Future Fest information