October 27, 2017

Activating Young Voters: #WeTheAAPI Ambassador Kickoff


APIAVote recently launched a network of campus affiliates with Student Ambassadors to increase the electoral participation and civic engagement of young Asian American and Pacific Islanders. AAPI millennials (age 18-34) have the lowest level of voter participation out of all age groups. We must close this voter turnout gap for the 2018 midterm elections and 2020 presidential election.


This 18-month program kicked off with the 2017 APIAVote Ambassador Summit, held for three days in mid-September with training space provided by AARP. 90 student ambassadors, 23 states, and 40 campuses came together to cultivate their electoral organizing skills.



These student leaders came from a variety of campus organizations ranging from Asian Student Unions, Korean Student Association, Chinese Student Association, Sikh Student Association, South Asian Student Association, to greek organizations such as Alpha Kappa Delta Phi International Sorority and Lambda Phi Epsilon International Fraternity.


It takes a community to build power.


Our Student Ambassador program activates young AAPIs enrolled in colleges and universities to register and vote for the first time. Building upon our Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute trainings, we adapted the curriculum to fit the learning needs of college students by including activities such as role-play and student-led Q&A panels. We provided voter engagement resources and guidance to these student leaders such as learning how to door knock and effectively message to their peers and eligible voters.  



Read three direct stories on why our #WeTheAAPI Student Ambassador program is a valuable resource to student leaders across the nation below.


University of Texas at Austin - ADPAC (Asian Desi Pacific Islander American Collective)’s spokesperson said, “The #WeTheAAPI Ambassador Summit was an incredibly rewarding experience. The best part was being able to meet other students from across the country with the same passion and interests as well as learning about their stories and journeys. This program is especially important for our community and population especially in today's current societal and political climate. UT Austin has a 17.8% Asian American student population and if we can motivate our community to be more civically engaged, we can make great changes happen on and around our campus.”


We also heard from Appalachian State University - Asian Student Association (ASA): “This Ambassador Program is important to me primarily because I am an AAPI student living on a predominantly white institution within a predominantly white town. There are still many AAPI students who are not registered to vote and almost no visible AAPI organizations in the community outside of Appalachian State University. Through the Ambassador Program, we will be able to emphasize the importance of the Asian/Pacific Islander American vote and the need for solidarity in a place where it is so easy to feel alone and alienated.”


Florida State University - Japanese Language and Culture Association (JLCA) noted: "The #WeTheAAPI Ambassador Program provides an outlet for me to connect with my community and work towards the larger goal of growing a civic culture. I was motivated to join this program because my family was incarcerated during WWII because of their ethnicity; our history has shown me that when we are not active in our politics we are taken advantage of.”



We have strength in numbers. Each of the 40 organizations came up with a voter registration goal for the next 18 months. By October 2018, APIAVote Ambassadors will register 20,000+ AAPI voters on 40 campuses across the country. Our voting power can improve our communities. APIAVote is making the impact now so AAPIs can benefit for generations to come.


Here is a full list of our participating 2017-18 Student Ambassadors.

CA      California State University, LA

          Irvine Valley College

CT      Yale University

DC      Georgetown University

FL       Florida Atlantic University

Florida State University

University of Central Florida

University of Florida

University of Miami

University of North Florida

IL        Northwestern University

IN        University of Notre Dame

MA      Amherst College

           Boston University

Harvard University

University of Massachusetts Boston

MD      Johns Hopkins University

ME      Bates College

MI        Michigan State University

MN      University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota Morris

NC      Appalachian State University

Duke University

           UNC-Chapel Hill

NJ       Princeton University

Rutgers University

NY       Binghamton University

OH      Ohio State University

OR      University of Oregon

PA       University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

TN       Vanderbilt University

TX       Rice University

Texas A&M University

University of Texas at Austin

VA       College of William and Mary

University of Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University

WA      University of Washington

WI       University of Wisconsin-Madison