Today, on the two-year anniversary of the historic 2014 Guam Community Tour and Regional Summit, led by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), we reflect on the progress that the federal government has made to improve the lives of Pacific Islanders. Following the Tour and Regional Summit, WHIAAPI, which is housed within the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Office of Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, launched the Pacific Island Task Force to better address the unmet needs of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The Task Force comprised of 11 federal agencies that have worked to increase opportunity and access to federal programs for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
Today, we’re proud to release the Pacific Island Task Force Accomplishments Report, which details the successes and future plans of Pacific Island Task Force member agencies.
Specifically, the Task Force focused on the following goals:
Between September 2014 and September 2015, the Task Force and the President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs met quarterly for one year to institute regional solutions and to continue to engage with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to understand how to improve their quality of life. For example, both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor launched initiatives to make open educational resources (OER), developed with the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) funds, available to any college that requests them. These initiatives have allowed several postsecondary institutions in the U.S. Territories and outlying areas in the Pacific Region to receive free learning materials like course outlines, case studies, and course assignments from a variety of academic disciplines, improving access to different fields of education for students.
Additionally, the Task Force created a one-stop website entitled “Resources for the Pacific Islands” to connect Pacific Island communities to federal resources, such as grants, training, and technical assistance.
The Pacific Island Task Force Accomplishment Report outlines the progress made by federal government agencies to respond to recommendations from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities on topics such as housing, veterans’ issues, economic development, education, and health equity. In addition to outlining accomplishments, the report also summarizes each agency’s ongoing goals. By embedding future efforts within agencies’ 2016-2017 strategic plans for the Initiative, federal agencies are making a commitment to remain invested in Hawaii and the Pacific region in the years ahead to ensure greater transparency and accountability for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
The dialogue exchanged during the Guam Community Tour and Regional Summit not only fostered a group of members devoted to addressing and resolving key needs in the Pacific, but also created a transparent platform where community members can learn about the federal and local resources available to them. With the establishment of the infrastructure within the federal agencies moving forward, the report concludes the work of the PITF.
Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada is Vice-Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the Department of Education.