In the Fall of 2011, three Southeast Asian American professionals, Kao Saechao, Ekk Sisavatdy, and Ay Saechao from Highline College convened to discuss the educational issues that pervade the Southeast Asian American community. From their conversations they decided that action was needed to raise awareness regarding the Southeast Asian American Educational Opportunity Gap. With the support of Highline College, they hosted the first Southeast Asian American Access in Education community meeting in January of 2012. Over 25 Southeast Asian American professionals, students, parents, and allies attended carrying out a focused discussion regarding educational issues that affect SEAA students.
The discussion led to the development of the follow core issues and strategies, which since then has guided the work of our Coalition.
Core Educational Issues:
- Access to Educational Resources: SEAA families/studies have not been able to access educational resources
- Lack of SEAA Mentors and Guidance: There is a need to connect SEAA students with those who have been successful navigating through the Pre-K to Higher Ed pipeline
- Awareness Building for Educational Institutions: Mainstream service provides and educational institutions lack awareness and ability to serve the needs of SEAA students/families
- Educate SEAA parents, families, students and the community on educational access pathways, services and resources
- Political Empowerment of SEAA Community: The need to hire more SEAA educators; raise voices of the SEAA educational experience; and educate educational institutions and service providers regarding the needs of SEAA students and families
- Mentorship: Provide SEAA students and families with role models who have successfully navigated the educational system
The Initiative – UNITE Summit 2012
The first SEAeD initiative was the creation of a Washington State Southeast Asian American Education Summit titled UNITE (You and I Together for Education). The was hosted at Highline College in November 2012 with partnership of numerous organizations represented by our Coalition members (Hmong Association of Washington, Win/Win Network, Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Highline College, South Seattle College, Lao Heritage Foundation). In addition funding for the event was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in addition to sponsorship from the Washington Education Association, University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, and Highline Community College.
The Summit was a great success, bringing together 200 + SEAA students, families, service providers, educators and stakeholders from the community, local, and state level.
Since the 2014 Summit, the Coalition continues to organize at the grassroots level along with supporting local, state, and national efforts advocacy efforts. SEAeD Coalition members current serve in numerous capacities at Washington State and at the national level (UW Minority Community Advisory Committee, UW SEA Advisory Committee, SEARAC Leadership and Advocacy Training, Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Highline College AAPI Task Force, South Seattle College AANAPISI, Asian Pacific Directors Coalition, and Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition).
At the local level, SEAeD has provided presentations, college access workshops and training to community based organizations and educational associations including but not limited to: Iu-Mienh American Association, Northwest Communities of Burma, Bhutanese Community Resource Center, Washington State Parent Teacher Association, and Washington Equity Summit.
The good work done by SEAeD has increased the capacity of the Southeast Asian American community. We now have a platform to organize and mobilize our efforts to address the SEAA Education Opportunity Gap. Our influence and advocacy efforts has resulted in the creation professional paid positions at University of Washington, Highline College, South Seattle College. We are working towards data disaggregation efforts both at the institutional, state and national level. We continue to conduct college access workshops supporting local community based organizations in their effort to promote education and educational preparedness for SEAA students and families. The work we do is organic and will continue to grow.
Who We Are: Grassroots
We are a grassroots community organization. Our fiscal sponsor is the White Center Community Development Association. The direction of our work is determined by Coalition and Council members. We meet on a monthly basis.