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About Asian Americans United

Founded in 1985, AAU has worked in Philadelphia’s Asian American communities and in broader multiracial coalitions around quality education, youth leadership, anti-Asian violence, immigrant rights, and folk arts and cultural maintenance.

AAU’s past accomplishments include:

  1. initiating and monitoring the settlement of a lawsuit with the School District of Philadelphia to improve services to immigrant students (1986);
  2. developing the leadership of hundreds of youth through the Summer Community Youth Leadership Project and Asian American Youth Workshop;
  3. creating the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, the largest one-day event in Chinatown (1995);
  4. founding the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School – FACTS (2005); and
  5. leading citywide efforts to promote community revitalization in Chinatown, including the successful no stadium and no casino campaigns. (2000-present).

Current activities and campaigns include:

  1. working with Asian American students at South Philadelphia High School to improve school climate issues so that no student or parent has to worry about their safety; and
  2. 2) greening Chinatown. AAU youth have surveyed the area around FACTS, succeeded in getting a lot next to their school cleaned up and the fence fixed, and have begun converting this vacant lot into a garden.


  • Tenants’ Action Group of Philadelphia Community Catalyst (1991)
  • The Philadelphia Foundation’s Williams Award for Organizational Excellence (1995)
  • Harry H. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund’s Justice In Action Award (2001)
  • Chinese Benevolent Association of Greater Philadelphia (2002)
  • Philadelphia Inquirers Citizen of the Year Award to AAU Board Member Helen Gym (2007)
  • Bread and Roses Community Fund’s 30 for 30 Tribute to Change to AAU Executive Director Ellen Somekawa (2008)

Media Coverage

  • Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • Philadelphia City Paper
  • Philadelphia Weekly
  • KYW 1060
  • NBC – Philadelphia
  • Fox News
  • ABC News – Philadelphia
  • CBS News – Philadelphia
  • Al Dia
  • Associated Press
  • CNN
  • National Public Radio
  • Washington Post