CACF Latest Policy Reports, Press Statements, Advocacy Agendas

To read the entire letter, click here: An Open Plea to New Yorkers

SHSAT Dear New York image

To read the entire letter, click here: An Open Plea to New Yorkers

To read the entire letter, click here: Open Letter SDAG Orgs and Parents 

Open Letter SDAG Orgs and Parents

To read the entire letter, click here: Open Letter SDAG Orgs and Parents 


CACF Statement on

New York State Senate Committee on NYC Education School Diversity & Specialized High School Admissions Community Forum

New York, New York– Last night’s Queens community forum held by the NYS Senate Committee on NYC Education was supposed to create a space for community engagement and discussion on school diversity and the specialized high schools in NYC. However, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) was deeply disappointed and saddened by the divisive language and the fear-driven rhetoric against other communities of color in arguing to keep the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as the sole criteria for admission.  We are also disappointed in the persistent lack of inclusion in this debate of the voices of those in the Asian Pacific American (APA) community pushing for educational equity and educational reform.

Perpetuating ‘positive’ stereotypes about Asian American students and falling prey to the model minority myth not only hides the wide range of issues we face in the education system (lack of language access, cultural competency, xenophobia etc), but also serves to blind us to how we are being used to further marginalize communities of color.  We, including the APA community, need constructive and inclusive dialogue and solutions to create integrated learning communities and we should not be satisfied with the status quo.

At the Senate Forum last night, the perspectives of APA community members were again dominated by those who want to keep the single test. The community needs to stop seeing reform to the specialized high school admissions policy as a zero sum game. We ALL lose if we continue down the path we are on, placing such high stakes on a single test. It hurts ALL of our children because we define their ability by a single score – one imperfect measure with a cut-off score that fluctuates year to year.  And we ALL lose out on the best education possible with an inequitable education system.

CACF is calling all communities to fight collectively for educational equity. We need diverse and inclusive school environments; investments in schools and new schools across the City, especially targeting those schools and communities who are still impacted by historic under-investments; and creating opportunities that not only bring about the academic excellence of our students, but also support them in their social emotional growth. We also need reform of our single test admissions policy and the entire high school selection process.   

CACF calls for the NYS Senate Committee on NYC Education at the upcoming borough forums to lay out clear rules of decorum at the start of the event to ensure that all voices are respected and heard, but also that the language used is respectful of the diverse communities of New York.


New York City’s Specialized High School Discovery Program is a Step in the Right Direction But is Not Enough

The SHSAT Single-Test Must Be Reformed

New York, NY –  New York City’s schools are the most segregated schools in the entire nation and the City’s specialized high schools are no exceptions, even with the addition and expansion of the Discovery program. The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) is a single-measure admissions’ policy that perpetuates the segregation. Current efforts at improving diversity include the Discovery Program.

However, as seen by today’s Discovery program announcement, we need a much bolder and more effective plan for integration.  Black student enrollment increased by 109 seats and Latinx student enrollment by 169 seats. This brings the total percent of Black students who received offers to specialized high schools at 5.2% and Latinx students at 8.5%.

For Asian Pacific American students in the system, the Discovery Program did not limit the number of seats as argued by plaintiffs suing the City for the expansion of Discovery.  In fact, the number of seats offered to Asian Pacific American students increased by 498 seats, and we hope it has added to the diversity of neighborhoods from where our Asian Pacific American students come.  

The Discovery Program is a small step towards change,  but falls grossly short in its ability to truly support integration because of its heavy reliance on one imperfect measure.

The Discovery Program, which offers admissions to low-income students who score just under the cut off score, would be expanded to 20% of seats at each specialized high school by 2020. In addition, the expansion targets students from high poverty schools across the City.  Now that Discovery is an official mandate, schools are unable to elect out of the Discovery Program, as Stuyvesant High School, The Bronx High School of Science, and High School of American Studies at Lehman College have done in the past.

“The Discovery Program is limited in its ability to bring diversity to the specialized high schools. Integration and equity in education benefits all students, including APA students. Research is showing greater racial diversity in education exhibits smaller test score gaps between students,” said Anita Gundanna, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.

Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, said, “Racially inclusive and representative education cultivates an increasingly positive and healthier learning environment for students. We are doing our children a disservice if we do not work towards greater integration in our schools.”

SHSAT is a single-measure test that limits the specialized high schools’ ability to create integrated, high performing schools.  Even with the implementation of the Discovery Program, we still call for the need to reform the specialized high school admissions policy.

New York DREAM Act 2019

CACF is proud of the New York State Legislature’s passage of the DREAM Act, which will provide hundreds of thousands of undocumented students the opportunity to afford and pursue higher education with New York’s tuition support, including TAP and the Excelsior Scholarship. The DREAM Act offers an outlet for impoverished, foreign-born Asian Pacific Americans (APA) to improve their income situation. More importantly, it honors our APA parents; who sacrificed and contributed to this country’s wealth by toiling in back-breaking jobs in farming, fast food service, housekeeping and factories to name a few, to send their kids on a path towards achieving the American Dream. Special thanks to the DREAMers and countless other advocates who worked tirelessly over the last several years to make this dream finally a reality for our immigrant community.

Join us and many others in support of the José Peralta New York State’s DREAM Act for education equity #DREAMAct.

CACF joins NYC DOHMH Health Care Open Enrollment Day of Action

The New York State Health Open Enrollment period ends on January 31st, 2019. To encourage enrollment, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), is launching a Day of Action for January 17th 2019 and CACF, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, is joining this effort to increase enrollment, particularly in the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. With the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) still in effect alongside Medicaid expansion, NYC is seeking to enroll over 50,000 New Yorkers in low or no-cost health care.

CACF is working with its member organizations and Patient Navigators by providing additional outreach tools and resources to grow enrollment within the APA community. New York’s APA community comprises of 15% of New York’s population (1.3 million people) and over 40% of APAs qualify for and receive Medicaid. However, almost 15% of the NYC APAs remain uninsured.

CACF’s Patient Navigators have shared how difficult it is to enroll members of the APA community. Many APAs experience language barriers as almost 45% of New York’s APAs speak little to no English and the linguistic needs are highly varied with well over 20 languages such as Urdu, Tagalog, Taishanese, Hindi and Bengali.

Additionally, growing but unfounded fears regarding Public Charge have negatively impacted enrollment. CACF denounces Public Charge, where the receipt of public cash or assistance may deny a person’s admission to the United States or lawful permanent residence status. CACF reminds all that Public Charge has not taken into effect and does not legally impact one’s immigration status. These unwarranted fears should be ignored and all New Yorkers should apply for Health Care coverage.

“We recommend all New Yorkers continue to seek the help you need to protect you and your family’s health and well being. Remember, you are not alone. CACF and thousands of other organizations all over the country are defending the Affordable Care Act. Please sign up for Health Care before January 31st, and encourage others to do so as well.

-Vanessa Leung and Anita Gundanna, CACF Co-Executive Directors

With roughly two weeks remaining in this Open Enrollment period, CACF and its Patient Navigators are working hard to enroll New Yorkers in Health Care.

If you are interested in Health Care coverage, please visit


CACF’s Education Policy Brief 2018

Overemphasizing a Test, Oversimplifying Our Children: An APA Perspective on Specialized High School Reform towards Educational Equity

New York City is one of the most segregated school systems in the United States. The specialized high schools themselves, though a small percentage of the public schools, reflect the gross lack of diversity, inequity, and inclusion in the larger system. The Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as the single measure of admissions is unfair and a barrier to diversity in these schools.

Therefore, CACF believes in eliminating the SHSAT or any single test as the sole measure for admission to the specialized high schools in favor of adopting a multiple measures policy. In addition to these reforms, we also offer several recommendations on how the City and the Department of Education can better promote diversity and inclusion in the school system and ensure all students have equitable access to a high quality education.

As the nation’s only pan-Asian policy advocacy organization, CACF has a responsibility to the APA community to advocate for educational policies that benefit all APA students, including and especially those most marginalized. This responsibility is critical as APAs continue to be left out of educational reform efforts and policy decisions, further perpetuating the harmful effects of the model minority myth. With this brief, we hope to highlight the important role the APA community plays in the broader fight for educational equity.


Download full brief here.

Download press release here.


The Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), and the undersigned organizations call for unity and condemn the violence that occurred on Friday at New Red Apple Nails in Brooklyn and the unrelated vandalism that happened to small businesses in South Brooklyn. As organizations that serve and advocate for the Asian American community of New York, it is our responsibility to call out and stand against anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-Blackness and work with other communities of color toward racial justice.

Please read full statement here.

Asian Pacific American Organizations Respond

to NYC SHSAT Reform

Please read the response developed with community based organizations in the Asian Pacific American community that puts forward our common values and beliefs in education:

  1. Diverse and inclusive school environments are beneficial to all students.
  2. The NYC Department of Education (DOE) needs to address inequities in education across Pre-K through 12th grade and examine current processes and admission policies. 
  3. No family or parent from any community should be shamed in discussions around education and schooling.  
  4. Families need more easily accessible information to be better informed about the full variety of opportunities for their children’s schooling at all levels. 
  5. ALL children have the potential to succeed and excel in schools when given the right support and environment because no student goes to school wanting to fail. 
  6. ALL communities should be involved in constructive dialogue, especially when critical decisions are being made about schools, not just certain communities.

Please read the full response here. Any questions, please contact Tasfia Rahman, Policy Coordinator.

New York City Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Analysis

The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) is pleased to announce that discretionary funds allocated to Asian Pacific American-led organizations by the New York City Council for Fiscal Year 2019 increased by a little over $200,000 as compared to FY 2018, with a total of $2,426,240 for FY 2019. The highest total discretionary award received by an APA-led organization was $269,000, an increase of $11,000 compared to FY 2018. Total discretionary awards made to APA-led organizations increased by 1.00%, bringing the percent of total discretionary funding to APA-led organizations up to 5.06% for FY 2019. Specifically, Manhattan and Staten Island saw an increase in percent of total discretionary funding given to APA-led organizations. However, it is important to note that, without including speaker funding, 30 Council districts individually gave less than FY2018 of total discretionary funding.

To view full report: FY 2019 Schedule C Funding Report

To view press release: FY 2019 Schedule C Press Release


APA Social Justice Institute
Spring 2018 Cohort – A Case for a Cause

A Case for a Cause: Connecting Service to Social Justice is open to community-based organization staff who work with children and/or youth and are interested in making deeper connections to APA community issues in New York City. Participants will conceptualize and connect with various community needs and larger social change efforts, locally and nationally, for our diverse APA communities. We are excited to invest in the collective power of our organizational members. We are excited with our inaugural cohort.

Fatima Rahmati Women for Afghan Women
Hyeongeun Ashley Ahn The Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York
Kevin Cho The Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York
Palwasha Sharwani Grand Street Settlement
Joanna Huang Grand Street Settlement
Caitlin Ho Hunter College AANAPISI Project (HCAP)
Farzana Karim Sakhi for South Asian Women
Mimi Ko Chinese American Planning Council
Yijing (Grace) Wang Chinese American Planning Council


The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) aims to improve the economic security and well-being of Asian Pacific American children and families in New York City.