ASAP: Youth Leadership
“Changes begin with me, but if I want to be an advocate, I need to start to make change happen in my own school, community, and home.”
— ASAP Youth Leader, 12th grader
“Everyone has his or her own voice and ideas that should be heard. There is power in numbers, and the more voices we have the more visible we become. ASAP wants to create a collective and distinct voice by bringing together the voices and experiences of NYC’s Asian Pacific American youth.”
— ASAP Youth Leader
What is ASAP?
ASAP stands for the Asian American Student Advocacy Project, and we are a youth leadership program under a not-for-profit organization called CACF, the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. CACF started ASAP in 2004 because it believed that Asian Pacific American (APA) youth have powerful voices that can create positive change in the New York City education system. ASAP is committed to training APA youth to be social justice leaders who challenge APA stereotypes and fight for positive, equitable change in schools. Please refer to the ASAP Application (below) for more details.What do ASAP Youth Leaders learn?
ASAP Youth Leaders gain a lot of knowledge and training during their time in the program! All members learn about APA history and community issues, as well as advocacy, community, time management, and leadership skills. Full-time members (Ambassadors and Advocates) also learn about effective community-building and professional development. Members of either full-time track also learn more knowledge and skills depending on the track. Please refer to the second page of the ASAP Application (below) for more details.What is ASAP trying to achieve?
ASAP’s vision is a school system where all youth, including APA youth:
- Have equal access to quality and culturally-competent resources in schools, including but not limited to educators, guidance, mental health, and language services
- See their cultures and experiences reflected in school curriculums, policies, and dialogues
- Receive equal opportunities to succeed and thrive in schoolsWhat is the APA community?
The Asian Pacific American (APA) community is a diverse community consisting of East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Central Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. The APA community reflects over 40 languages and dialects, approximately 100 regions of origin, and currently 15% of the New York City population. There are other umbrella names and acronyms used to refer to these communities, such as AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), Asian American, and API (Asian-Pacific Islander).What is policy advocacy?
Advocacy is the gradual process that impacts change. There are many forms of advocacy, but ASAP trains members to do policy advocacy work. Rather than impacting individual to individual, we want to create change that impacts groups of people. Specifically, ASAP identifies issues that impact APA youth, then looks at systems (ex. NYC Department of Education, a school, NYC government) for system-wide changes that can help address these issues. These system-wide changes include proposing new or changing current policies that currently inform the way things are within a system.What can I do as an ASAP Youth Leader?
There are many important parts to advocacy, and it takes a community to move policies! ASAP is split into different tracks that task members with different roles.
The Ambassador track focuses more on education, outreach, recruitment, and community-building. What they might do during ASAP includes, but is not limited to: developing and facilitating workshops and trainings, aiding in program outreach and recruitment, and attending events with other youth groups and organizations.
The Advocate track focuses more on campaign development and policy advocacy work. What they might do during ASAP includes, but is not limited to: identifying community needs through research to develop policy changes that best address these needs, organizing events like rallies and press conferences to advocate on these proposed policy changes, and meeting with electeds and decision-makers to propose and implement these policy changes.
Both tracks are not only critical to the work that ASAP does, but they also complement each other. Therefore, it is important to us that all ASAP Youth Leaders, regardless of which track they select, are aware of and exposed to the work of the other track. For more details regarding ASAP’s full-time and part-time tracks, please look at the ASAP Application.
How do I know which track to apply for?
Selecting a track depends on several factors: your availability, your current skill set, your interests, and your goals.
Ambassadors and Advocates are full-time commitment tracks, while Allies are part-time commitment tracks. Full-time members are expected to attend all weekly meetings and a minimum number of events, while Allies are expected to attend at least quarterly meetings and a different minimum number of events. Please refer to the ASAP Application for more details.
You should also consider your strengths and skill set while making your decision. If they align with either the Ambassador or Advocate track, you should consider how your strengths and skill set may enhance your experience and performance within the track.
Lastly, you should consider your interests and goals for joining ASAP. What do you want to learn, improve, and develop for yourself? What do you want to achieve as a member? Take your answers to these questions into consideration while making your decision as well.
What if I want to switch tracks after I get in to ASAP?
ASAP Youth Leaders are allowed to switch tracks after joining ASAP upon discussion with and approval from program staff.What does a typical ASAP meeting look like?
ASAP meetings take place after school on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4:30-6:30PM in downtown Manhattan unless otherwise specified. Typically, on Tuesdays ASAP Youth Leaders meet with their track members while on Fridays ASAP Youth Leaders meet as a whole group. This is so that there is time for each track to focus on their work, as well as time for both tracks to stay informed about each other’s work. Typically, ASAP meetings include announcements, a group activity or icebreaker, and time to work on tasks.
There are exceptions to this, especially for quarterly meetings and events, that will be announced in advance.
What am I eligible to receive from ASAP?
Eligibility depends on the track that ASAP Youth Leaders participate in. Please refer to the ASAP Application for more details.
How do I apply for ASAP?
Applications must be submitted by the date indicated on the application through one of following ways:
Mail a hard copy to Denis Yu:
Who can apply for ASAP?
ASAP is currently looking for students who are currently or will be enrolled in a New York City high school, college, or university in the Fall. We highly encourage freshman to apply!
We welcome students from all backgrounds in ASAP, provided that you are interested in learning about and working on APA issues.
Is there a selection process for applicants?
All applicants must go through ASAP’s selection process called Match Day, which consists of a series of activities and games that help program staff best understand our applicants’ strengths and potential. For more details on this, including the date for Match Day, please refer to the ASAP Application.
It is mandatory for all applicants to attend Match Day. There are no makeup days for this. If you are unable to attend Match Day, your application will not be considered in the final selection.
I think I will be busy with school work and extracurriculars. Can I still join ASAP?
ASAP is a commitment that takes a lot of time and effort, especially in our full-time tracks. If you anticipate being unable to make this commitment, we highly encourage you to consider applying to be an Ally, our part-time track that meets quarterly instead of weekly for meetings. For more details, please refer to the ASAP Application.
Can I be both an Ambassador and an Advocate?
We do not encourage ASAP Youth Leaders to participate in both the Ambassador and Advocate track as these tracks are full-time commitments that require a considerable amount of time and effort. For members who select a track and are interested in the work of the other track, you can ask to be looped into the other track’s work and attend some of their events.
For any questions, contact:
For any questions, contact: