A nonprofit organization in Los Angeles is pioneering ways to help formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islanders (APIs) resettle and reconnect back to their communities.
“My own parents didn’t understand the work that I was doing with API RISE, but I felt compelled by my passion to provide a platform for people coming home. So I can relate on a very personal level to the cultural shame around individuals who were incarcerated.”
The passion to provide social support for system-impacted APIs is what draws community supporters, advocates and the formerly incarcerated to the organization.
“My brother was incarcerated in the late ’90s, and his incarceration inspired me to pursue a law degree,” said Paul Jung, a lawyer and co-founder of API RISE.
“I know the power of providing a social safety net that offers returning citizens a place to feel like home … a place to reconnect, to build camaraderie and to celebrate life. My brother is a living testament to the power and success of API RISE.
“My brother paroled in 2018 after serving 21 years. He is now working as a licensed electrician and volunteering his time to give back to API RISE, so others who are following behind him can be given the same opportunities for success that he has enjoyed.”
API RISE was founded in 2015 by community members Paul Jung, Traci Isihigo and two formerly incarcerated APIs, Duc Ta and David Kupihea.
Before Covid-19, the organization held monthly meetings in a church located south of downtown Los Angeles.
“A big part of our group is to socialize, host healing circles discussing forgiveness, and things members are struggling with,” said Ta. “We also host cooking classes, guest speakers and other fun events for our members.”
Since Covid-19, API RISE continues its work by hosting bi-weekly meetings on Zoom to check in with members and come up with ideas to provide mutual aid.
“We want the API brothers and sisters who are sitting behind bars serving 5, 10, 15 years or even longer to know we are here for them. If you need support letters, jobs and other resources before paroling, write to us,” said Ta.
Are you paroling to Southern California and in need of resources, assistance, support letters and job referrals? Contact our organization, API RISE, we are a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles founded by formerly incarcerated individuals with the support of community members.
Write to us:
P.O. Box 53664, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Connect with us:
firstname.lastname@example.org / facebook: API RISE Los Angeles / Instagram: api_rise
Our goal is to build an actively engaged and involved Asian Pacific Islanders (API) community of API inmates, formerly incarcerated individuals, at-risk youth, families, allies, and supporters. To educate our community around issues of how the criminal, legal and prison systems impact APIs and to organize around the needs of currently and formerly incarcerated community members.