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Empowering AAPIs in an America Built to Last

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is working to share President Obama's Blueprint for an America Built to Last with AAPIs across the country.

Earlier this week, in his annual State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out his Blueprint for an America Built to Last.  This includes our Administration’s unwavering commitment to preserving the American dream for all, including the nearly 17 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) across our nation.  Below, read more about how the Initiative will help carry the President’s message to AAPIs across the country.  Also, learn about our upcoming Weekly Web Chat Series and other exciting federal work.

President Obama delivers the 2012 State of the Union

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In his State of the Union Address, the President laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values. The President believes this is a make or break moment for the middle class and those trying to reach it.  What’s at stake is the very survival of the basic American promise that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put enough away for retirement. 

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.  No challenge is more urgent; no debate is more important.  We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while more Americans barely get by, or we can build a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.  At stake right now are not Democratic or Republican values, but American values – and for the sake of our future, we have to reclaim them.

On Thursday, I took part in White House Office Hours via Twitter on the State of the Union’s priorities and how they affect the AAPI community.  To read more about our discussion, click HERE.

Over the next few weeks, the White House Initiative on AAPIs will have many opportunities for you to take an active role in the work of our government.  Here’s what’s coming up:

  • January 27, 2012: Columbus, OH, WHIAAPI roundtable with the Ohio Asian American Advisory Commission and other community leaders
  • January 28, 2012: Columbia, MD, WHIAAPI Advisor Tuyet Duong to keynote a conference of Mid-Atlantic Union of Vietnamese Student Associations
  • February 1, 2012: Conference call with AAPI community on the State of the Union Address, centering on initiatives to alleviate student debt, featuring Zakiya Smith, Domestic Policy Council, and Chris Lu, Co-chair of the White House Initiative
  • February 6, 2012: Washington, DC, AAPI business leaders briefing and State of the Union conversation
  • February 15-16, 2012: Fayetteville, AR, WHIAAPI education event at the University of Arkansas; engagement with Hmong American farmers and Marshallese communities
  • February 16, 2012: Memphis, TN, WHIAAPI roundtable forum with community leaders
  • February 16, 2012: San Francisco, CA, US Citizenship and Immigration Services roundtable and Chinese-language forum
  • February 21, 2012: Jacksonville, FL, WHIAAPI Summit on Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth
  • February 24-26, 2012: Durham, NC,  Eddie Lee, White House Office of Public Engagement to keynote the East Coast Asian American Student Union Conference

To learn more about these events, please email

Weekly Web Chat Series with the White House Initiative

In the spirit of  the President’s commitment to engaging the American public, the WHIAAPI will host a web chat with the community every Wednesday from 3-4pm EST.  This is your opportunity to interact with officials from across the Administration, ask questions, and share your concerns and ideas on how our government can effectively work with you.  In addition, you will receive firsthand knowledge on how to better access federal programs and services.

To kick off the series, please join a conference call/webchat on Obama Administration Efforts to Alleviate Student Debt on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, at 3 PM EST.  As the first in a series of financial literacy conference calls and webchats, hear from officials from the White House, Department of Education, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to learn about federal income-based repayment programs, college cost comparisons, federal student financial aid, and other federal programs.

WHAT: Conference call on Obama Administration initiatives to alleviate student debt

  • Chris Lu, Co-chair of the White House Initiative
  • Zakiya Smith, White House Domestic Policy Council
  • Phil Martin, Department of Education 
  • Rohit Chopra, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

WHEN: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 3PM EST

HOW: Email with “RSVP for 2/1 Call” in the heading by Jan. 31 at 12PM EST. This call is hosted in partnership with the White House Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Information on how to join each week’s web chat will be provided in the Initiative’s Weekly Highlights.  To join our distribution list and receive the Weekly Highlights, please email

Are there additional topics you would like to see?  Post on the White House AAPI Facebook page or tweet us at @WhiteHouseAAPI with topic suggestions or issues you would like to discuss!

Federal Agency Announcements

  • On January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a final rule which ensures that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of preventive services without any co-pays and/or deductibles. To learn more about this rule, click HERE.
  • The U.S. Department of Education is now accepting applications for the Teaching Ambassador Fellowships program. The fellowships allow educators to work at Department of Education on a full- or part-time basis. Applications are due by February 27, 2012. For more information, click HERE.
  • On January 31, at 2:30PM EST, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a Webinar on their proposed amendments to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Pulp and Paper Industry. To register for this Webinar, click HERE.
  • On February 9, nominations are due for the Census Bureau’s Census Scientific Advisory Committee. For more information on the committee and the nomination process, visit the Federal Register Notice HERE.
  • The Department of Homeland Security is now accepting applications for the Career Development Grant (CDG). Applications are due by March 22, 2012. To learn more about this grant and to apply, click HERE.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an Information Bulletin that provides information for State Medicaid Agencies and other interested parties regarding the prohibition on “balance-billing” Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMB) for Medicare cost-sharing, including deductible, coinsurance, and copayments.

Federal Agency Openings

  • The Environmental Protection Agency posted two Senior Executive Service vacancies in Region 8, which serves the Mountain West states.  To apply for the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Office of Ecosystem Protection and Remediation position, click HERE.  To apply for the Assistant Regional Administrator for the Office of Partnerships and Regulatory Assistance position, click HERE

Chris Lu serves as Co-chair for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as well as Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisLu44.