Members of Seattle’s Vietnamese community face numerous barriers to self-sufficiency and economic stability. Unfortunately, there has not been a collective effort to address these issues due to historical, cultural, political and economic reasons. For example, only about 6% of eligible Vietnamese voters cast a ballot in the Washington State’s 2011 Primary Election. Recognizing our need to strengthen civic engagement and develop our next generation of leaders, VFA has focused on several projects:
- VFA launched the Vietnamese Community Action Research and Empowerment (CARE) Project in 2009. CARE was designed to engage the Seattle Vietnamese community in identifying problems and challenges, developing a shared vision, creating a community action plan, and mobilizing resources to implement and achieve this plan. CARE represents the first major effort to involve Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in community planning and mobilization. See the community assessment report and community plan that came from this project. The plan has directly led to many of VFA’s key priorities, including our Hoa Mai dual-language preschool.
- We worked with groups such as Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Engagement (APACE) to register our community members to vote and holding non-partisan voter engagement events.
- Working closely with youth groups such as the Vietnamese Student Associations at the University of Washington and Seattle University to develop youth leadership and capacity.
- Holding World Cafe events to bring community members, both Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese, together to discuss identity, civic responsibility, and other topics critical to the development of our community.