About Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month


Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Week (10 days) was first established in 1978, marking two important milestones: arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869. Then in 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration (United States Census Bureau, 2019).

The Facts

According to U.S. Census Bureau (2019), an estimated 22.2 million of U.S. residents in 2017 were Asian and 1.6 million were Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander. Despite the substantial population of AAPI presence in the United States, the proportion of AAPI professional educators is less, and in some cases, far less than the proportion of AAPI enrolled students in the public K-12 system and postsecondary institutions (UC AAPI Policy MRP, 2010). While the AAPI student population is increasingly growing, unfortunately, the percentage of AAPI professional educators at the nation’s colleges and universities does not mirror those student demographics (UC AAPI Policy MRP, 2010).

According to the State of Higher Education in California—Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Report (2015):

  • More than 6.3 million Asian Americans and more than 300,000 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) live in California—about 16 percent of the state’s population.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reports over 23 distinct Asian American and over 19 distinct NHPI ethnic groups.

  • Asian Americans and NHPI are projected to represent California’s second fastest-growing racial group between 2010 and 2060.

  • Educational attainment rates for Asian Americans and NHPI communities vary by 60 percentage points, e.g. Bachelor degree attainment 70 percent Indian as compared to 10 percent Laotian.

  • 87 percent of Asian Americans begin their college journey in a California public institution