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Last winter at our annual retreat the National Asian American Coalition team declared that 2016 would be our “best year ever.” Indeed, our accomplishments this year have been enormous and the NAAC continues to be a driving force in supporting underserved communities. We have been able to reach more people, collaborate with more companies, meet with more regulators, all in the name of helping deserving individuals become homebuyers and small business owners. As the number of Asian Americans in this country continues to grow (over 20 million), we are at the forefront of helping them become partners in our mission to reduce income and wealth inequality and build stronger futures for all minority groups. In the past year we have made it a priority with our partners at the National Diversity Coalition to address the lack of diversity in corporate America. As more corporations have openly discussed their concerns about the disproportionately low hiring of minorities, we have collected data and worked to examine areas for improvement. We have made diverse hiring subcontracts a major emphasis in the merger negotiations we have been involved in.
The NAAC frequently serves as the eyes and ears for state and federal regulators. We champion the interests of our constituents as we explore issues such as how health care mergers will impact the 70% of Americans who live from paycheck to paycheck, or how utility bill increases will disproportionately affect minorities. Our monthly conference calls with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice enable us to share our perspectives on how big corporate mergers affect the daily lives of underserved Americans. Our public support of Charter’s merger with Time Warner and Bright House helped to win regulatory approval which resulted in diversity commitments, lower-cost service, more diverse programming, and community philanthropy. As part of this strong relationship with Charter, the NAAC’s television show, “Owning a Piece of America,” joined the Charter Cable network and its audience of 3.2 million viewers. Similarly, we have built strong relationships with banks, such as the new Bank of Hope (the merger of the two largest Korean American banks), to ensure that all minorities share in their success, whether through special homeownership and small business programs or through broad Community Reinvestment Act initiatives that put funds for education and growth back into the surrounding community. Through our negotiations with them and our ultimate support of their merger, we won many commitments in outreach, programs, and philanthropy for our communities. We had similar successes with our involvement in the Royal Business Bank/City National Bank and CIT/One West bank mergers.
Although we have the ear of regulators and lawmakers at the highest levels, we draw our strength and influence from our ability to connect with individuals and groups through grassroots outreach. One of the great achievements of the past year has been the expansion of the NAAC’s consumer booths in Island Pacific supermarkets. Now in 19 stores and growing (including California, Washington, and Nevada), we can keep our constituents updated on new homeownership, small business, or financial education programs, as well as take their concerns and complaints to the appropriate agencies.
Thanks to this community outreach, we have been able to offer more opportunities for homeownership and small business growth than ever before. This year we expanded our microlending program by giving $700,000 in small loans, with only a 4% default rate. Our focus on homeownership through workshops and counseling has resulted in many new home purchases, as well as successful loan modifications and the rehabilitation of REO homes for first-time buyers.
In March we traveled to Washington D.C. with eighteen National Diversity Coalition partners for more than a dozen meetings with regulators including meetings with the Chair of the Federal Reserve, Chair of the FDIC, Chair of the FTC, Director of the FHFA, and FCC commissioners. At these meetings we advocated for the interests of our minority communities and emphasized our goal of addressing income and wealth inequality. Since the D.C. meetings, the National Diversity Coalition has been approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization, which will enable us to grow and expand our influence. Our NDC leaders have published a number of op-eds in the American Banker, for example sharing our ideas for improving banking to benefit low-income, minority communities. This included one that should expand our bipartisan influence in Washington.
Overall, our bipartisan team at the NAAC has worked hard this year to champion change for the underserved communities we represent. Our enthusiastic staff has faced, to our credit, every challenge with determination and creativity. We were even lucky enough to celebrate the 80th birthday of our most senior colleague, the legendary Bob Gnaizda, who has led us to so much success in the past year.
With more consumer outreach booths opening across the country and the expansion of innovative programs, we look forward to continued accomplishments in 2017 especially as our offices move to a brand new Island Pacific location in San Francisco.
Thank you to all of our colleagues, partners, and supporters who have made 2016 our “best year ever!”
A message from our CEO
President & CEO
National Asian American Coalition
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