19th annual may arts “rooted in culture” performances announced!



Join us as we fight for our communities in Oakland
and celebrate
19 years of Building API Community Power!
“Rooted In Culture”
Saturday May 13th
Lincoln Square Park, Chinatown
261 11th St, Oakland, CA 94607

AYPAL Youth Performances:

Guerrilla Theater
Hip Hop Dance
Khmer Moon Dance
Mien Dance
Southeast Asian Lion Dance
Spoken Word

Community Performances:

Ieumsae Korean Drumming
Tai Chi with APEN Members
ACPA Rondalla
Mix’d Ingrdnts
Babii Cris



Free Entry






Feel free to contact us for more information on how to get involved.


Check out last year’s recap video!

Highlights from “Fresh Off the Block II”!

Thank you to everyone who attended AYPAL’s 2nd annual Fresh Off the Block Photo Exhibit at Eastside Arts Alliance on December 15th, 2016!

We are excited to share this highlight video created by Stevie Sanchez. Community came together to share stories about Oakland, talk about gentrification, and even dance (of course)! Enjoy!


Missed the event? Want to see more? No worries, click the link below to gain access to the highlight video we played during the exhibit: Youth confronting decision makers during key moments in our 2016 #WeHere campaign!


Join us for the 2nd annual FOB: FRESH OFF THE BLOCK Photo Project!

Next Thursday December 15th at Eastside Cultural Center 2277 International 5-8pm!

Free Entry!



Youth Power!

Come check out youth perspective on the changes happening in Oakland through photography, spoken word, and story telling.




Follow this link for a video re-cap of last year’s FOB event!


Funded by:


Racial Justice Toolkit now available!


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This is an exciting tool we have the honor of sharing with you all. Over the past year and a half, AYPAL, along with 14 organizations nationwide contributed to the creation of an Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit loaded with a TONs of shared curriculum for working with our communities towards transformation.

We are excited to share this document with you, which is FREE for DOWNLOAD in the link below!


Sign up for email updates here!

& check out the webinar launch video below!


This Toolkit project includes contributions from the following organizations:

Asian Pacific Environmental Network – Chinese Progressive Association SF  Korean Resource Center – Filipino Advocates for Justice  – CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities – PrYSM – DRUM  – Khmer Girls in Action – 1Love Movement – AYPAL: Building API Power  VAYLA New Orleans – Freedom Inc – Korean Resource Community Center – Mekong NYC – VietLEAD

aypal wraps up summer program! too many highlights!

Every summer AYPAL completes a 4-5 week training program with new and returning interns! Training includes workshops on our core political (Capitalism, Imperialism, White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Heterosexism etc.) and skills (Facilitation, Outreach, Inclusion, Public Speaking, Healing etc.) curriculum! We put all of this into practice during the program as well, check out some highlights below!


AYPAL interns and staff with organizers from UNITE HERE / Local 2850!




AYPAL representing at a rally supporting Proposition 55 to maintain and increase funding for public education on August 5th!





AYPAL youth speak out against a new development in Chinatown that is going to take up an entire city block with 6 stories of market rate housing across kitty corner from Lincoln park, in favor or more time to reach a comprehensive Community Benefits Agreements with the developers for our constituents and the people who have been in Oakland and Oakland Chinatown for years. August 17th.

For footage of what they said, check out the video below:

We did not win more time to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement, but will be issuing an appeal of the project along with the Chinatown Coalition to try and make the changes that need to happen for this project to limit the potentially negative impacts on our community. Student and community voice at these decision making meeting is more important than ever, we will continue to have our voices heard, louder and louder each time.







We closed out our summer program with a rally for workers who are being treated unfairly at the Casino San Pablo on August 18th!

AYPAL stands in solidarity with all oppressed and resilient people everywhere, and especially right here in Oakland and Bay Area. Youth voice is not needed just because it is the right thing to hear what youth have to say, that yes, but also because there is a social utility to having youth perspective represented. Youth have a perspective that adults do not have, that is often more clear, less socialized, and more creative that what is generally being brought to the table. AYPAL is excited about continuing to bring this perspective, action, and power towards community transformation this year. Stay tuned!






aypal organizer represents for assembly bill in sacramento: news video clip

With the passage of legislation that will make Asian and Pacific Islander students, particularly those who are underrepresented – such as Southeast Asians, more visible within the Oakland Unified School District, AYPAL has continued to work towards similar legislation at both the city and state levels. Over the summer AYPAL organizers met with State Assembly members to encourage the passage of Assembly Bill 1726, which would disaggregate data for API’s similarly to the OUSD legislation (you can find that story here). Below is a video clip of a news story that documented both the conservative opposition to this bill, as well as AYPAL’s very own Vincent Saephan explaining the need for this type of policy.

Check out the video below!


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May Arts Re-cap videos!

Visit our crowd source fundraising page to donate and be a part of fighting against gentrification and displacement in Oakland! *Update: this fundraising page is currently closed, we met our goal! Thank you to the community for raising over $10,000 for youth!  * #WeHere


Official May Arts 2016 “Reclaiming Our Roots” in San Antonio Park re-cap video by Stevie Sanchez of Eastside Arts Alliance! (above)

An in-depth look at May Arts through the Guerulla Theater by United Roots! (below)


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AYPAL Director Honored by the City

AYPAL Director Joshua Fisher Lee accepted an award from the city, Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan’s office, for API Heritage Month with 7 other honorees on Tuesday June 7th. He dedicated the award to his mom and grandma, and spoke to the brilliance of the youth leaders in AYPAL on why this work is so important. Society needs youth solutions. AYPAL thanks the city for recognition of our community and contributions to Oakland. Joshua plans to use this visibility as leverage to push for community transformation through our organizing.







Oakland high school students form legislation with school board member to transform the way OUSD reports API student data, bringing invisible communities to the forefront; resolution passes unanimously.

A resolution to disaggregate Asian Pacific Islander (API) student data was passed early this week on June 8th, following a presentation and advocacy by youth from three different community organizations (Banteay Srei, Asian Health Services Youth Program, and AYPAL: Building API Community Power) at the May 25th school board meeting. The resolution was put forth by District 2 School Board member Aimee Eng and calls for the publishing of disaggregated data for API students in the Oakland Unified School District; adding “Mien/Lao”, and “Tongan” as categories as part of the resolution. This resolution, which was backed by the support of several community and statewide organizations, as well as Assembly member Rob Bonta’s office, Superintendent Antwan Wilson, and members of the city’s Life Enrichment Committee, passed unanimously with a vote of 7-0. It is the first of it’s kind to be passed in California school districts and will effectively break out several different groups within the category of “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” to provide more visibility to underrepresented API populations such as Cambodian, Mien, Tongan, and other Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students.

For news coverage on this story, please see the following link to NPR/KQED news story:



On Wednesday May 25th, 2016 twenty high school youth in Oakland attended the Oakland Unified School District Board Meeting with signs that read things like “Count me in: 68% of Cambodians DO NOT have a high school diploma”, to present their stories in an effort to back legislation that would change the way data is reported for underrepresented students. Youth presented their own set of data about Asian American youth in Oakland, and provided personal testimony to encourage the School Board to change the way data is tracked and reported to make the experiences of their communities more visible. Currently, data about Asian American and Pacific Islander students is reported in large clumps, which often masks the data of groups such as Southeast Asians, and other refugee and new immigrant communities. The youth who attended today’s meeting spoke about the importance of having data that represents their stories.

Despite the diversity of Oakland’s large Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) population, OUSD only publishes disaggregated data for a few of the major AAPI groups: Asian, Filipino, Pacific Islander populations. By failing to measure a large portion of the AAPI population, Oakland is unable to track the progress of the most disadvantaged segments of that population.

Without disaggregated data, policymakers and researchers must rely on less detailed data released by state agencies or local data that may be collected inconsistently in different jurisdictions. Without disaggregated data, support services cannot provide adequate data to show the needs of the API community, thus inhibits the ability to request funding for grants and resources to implement programs. Without programs focused on supporting our API communities, our API youth remain invisible and underserved.

During the 2014-­2015 academic calendar, Oakland community based organizations ­Banteay Srei, Asian Health Services Youth Program, and AYPAL: Building API Community Power, felt the urgency to conduct an API youth assessment in order to better understand the needs and landscape of the API population within OUSD. In collaboration with Oakland High School and the Shop 55 Wellness Center, they collected data from API youth and young adults (between ages 12­-24). About 500 surveys were collected from 8 OUSD schools, and several community college students, and data was disaggregated by the organizations by API ethnicity to demonstrate the differences and similarities with the API community experience. A focus group at Oakland High School with 5 Asian and Pacific Islander students was completed to better understand the survey data from youths perspective. The results of this survey have been shared by youth and staff at both city council and Alameda county levels, and has caught the attention of statewide media and legislation efforts.




Contribute to our crowd source fundraiser to keep this work going! #WeHere

AYPAL May Arts 2016 “Reclaiming Our Roots” in San Antonio Park was a success!


A special thanks to everyone who attended, volunteered, performed, grubbed, danced, donated, tabled, and built community with us at our first ever May Arts Festival in a public space – at San Antonio Park! It was beautiful to see “Reclaiming Our Roots” come alive with folks from all over the Bay engaging in cultural resistance against gentrification, racism, and young people’s oppression with AYPAL youth all day long, right in the middle of East Oakland, on Saturday May 14th. We are working on some amazing media from the day to share with you. Stay tuned!

AYPAL launched our crowd source fundraiser the very same day, and quickly raised $2,000! Our goal is $10K by mid June to support AYPAL youth to continue to fight for the people of this city. It’s your opportunity to be a part of this growing movement with these young folks. *Update: Link has been taken down since we reached our goal! Thank you for raising over $10,000 to support youth in Oakland!*

In hella solidarity,

AYPAL Family



Photos by Sunshine V., Esoteric Images, and AYPAL Staff

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Khmer Flute Dance
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Darangen Filipino Fan Dance
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Southeast Asian Lion Dance
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Rocky Rivera
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Mass Bass
 The crowd having fun!

AYPAL youth perform cultural arts action on land of Proposed Hotel to Demand Resources for Asian Pacific Islander Community, Not Low Wage Jobs and Gentrification


AYPAL is continuing the fight against gentrification, this time by escalating our action against the permitting of building a new hotel on an empty lot in Chinatown at 378 11th street, a block away from our programming site. Youth crossed the fence line on April 19th and 21st to perform cultural arts action on the land, bringing into question “how else could this space be used?”. Our communities of Oakland need and deserve resources now, and our city government seems to be more concerned with working with developers with bad track records than paying attention to community. (Note: images purposely do not reveal AYPAL youth faces to prevent criminalization).



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Below is an excerpt of our press release:

Downtown Oakland – At 4:45 PM on Tuesday April 19th and Thursday April 21st, carrying signs that read “Our Oakland, Our Future, Not for Sale!”, twenty-five students from different Oakland high schools crossed the fence into the lot of the proposed Hampton Inn Hotel in Chinatown and performed a cultural arts dance show to protest the building of the new hotel. By reclaiming the space, their youth organization, AYPAL: Building API Community Power, demonstrated an alternative use for the space that provides resources that their community lacks, including after-school programs for “at-risk” youth.

The Oakland Planning Department approved Oak 378 LLC’s application to build a new Hampton Inn on a valuable downtown site – just weeks after the City of Oakland notified Oak 378’s owners of a fine for violating the new minimum wage ordinance at their existing Oakland hotel.

Oak 378 is owned by Sima and Pravin Patel, who also own the Holiday Inn Express on Hegenberger Road. A City report, issued February 3, listed numerous violations of the Oakland minimum wage ordinance at the Holiday Inn Express – including underpaying workers, manipulating time-card records, withholding evidence from City investigators, and reducing workers’ hours in response to passage of the minimum wage law. Penalties included a $5,000 fine and back pay for employees.

Measure FF, passed overwhelmingly by Oakland voters last year, established a $12.25 minimum wage and expressly allowed the City to consider minimum wage law violations when making land use decisions.

The Hampton Inn approval was made with no hearings, public process, or community input – despite protests from Chinatown groups like AYPAL who said the hotel project would worsen inequality and displacement in the neighborhood. The decision to approve the hotel was delegated solely to Planning Director Rachel Flynn, who came under criticism last fall for asserting that there is no affordable housing crisis in Oakland.

“We want more accountability around decision-making. One person, Rachel Flynn, should not be deciding what gets built in our neighborhood. Today’s action is to show that we are still building community, while the City seems to be tearing our community apart with developments like these. The API community is often overlooked, and this space could be used towards resources that underrepresented communities need, rather than building a hotel that was a track record of bad working conditions,” said Joshua Fisher Lee, Director of AYPAL.

For a news update on this project, check the following link:

aypal organizes API mens forum at state building

IMG_4788 2Nkauj Iab Yang, Program Director at Banteay Srei, and Joshua Fisher Lee, AYPAL Project Director, share out findings from a 500 API youth survey conducted by Banteay Srei, AYPAL, and The Spot Youth Center during the API Men’s Forum at the State Building in Oakland on Thursday April 14th.

API Boys and Men Forum Flyer FinalThere has been a lot of movement on work towards improving the lives of Boys and Men of Color (BMoC) since the announcement of the My Brothers Keeper (MBK) initiative by President Obama back in 2014. However, nationally, this work often does not adequately encompass the experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander young men, if at all. At a local level, AYPAL has been representing for the API voice around BMoC issues and the city’s MBK initiative through our participation with the Alliance for BMoC convened by Urban Strategies Council. AYPAL organized a convening along with the Offices of Assembly Members Tony Thurmond, and Rob Bonta, Alameda County Supervisors Keith Carson, and Wilma Chan, and numerous community organizations to inform policy makers, foundation leaders, and community members about the unique issues facing BMoC in our communities. AYPAL alum Sou Saechao, and Spencer Pulu spoke movingly on a panel that took audience members through the migration/immigration, to education, to incarceration, to deportation, to re-entry pipeline moderated by community leader and AYPAL advisory board member Eddy Zheng of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee. Survey data was also presented to emphasize the need for disaggregated data for better understanding the needs of our community, which has become increasingly made visible by Banteay Srei, AYPAL, and The Spot Youth Center staff and youth through presentations of the data to decision makers like these. Special thanks to Mina Sanchez of the Asian Community Collaborative of Alameda County, and to the Oakland Public Education Fund, and The California Endowment, for support of AYPAL’s work with / for API young men.

IMG_4859Sou and Spencer presenting on the panel about their experiences growing up in Oakland and attending Oakland public schools.


IMG_4811Joshua and Nkauj Iab presenting data collected by Banteay Srei, AYPAL, and The Spot Youth Center to inform the need for action towards increasing resources for the API community.



AYPAL 18th Annual May Arts Festival is Happening Saturday May 14th, In San Antonio Park!



AYPAL’s 18th Annual May Arts Festival is happening in San Antonio Park this year! “Reclaiming Our Roots” May Arts Festival serves as an opportunity for youth of color to share their experiences, resilience, and creativity in celebration with community. In collaboration with Eastside Arts Alliance, we are taking this legacy event to the next level by bringing it directly to our communities who are being targeting by racism, classism, and gentrification. Join us May 14th 11am-4pm at San Antonio Park for food, youth and community performances, and access to resources from allied organizations! Free entry! Donations accepted!




Check out more on KPFA (94.1FM) and KALW (91.7FM) in the links below:



AYPAL and their May Arts Festival



KALW Sights and Sounds: May Arts






AYPAL continues fight against gentrification, sends delegation to Mayor’s office and rallies at City Hall


On Wednesday April 13th, AYPAL led a delegation to the Mayors Office unannounced to deliver our community’s vision for an empty lot in Chinatown on 11th street, a block away from our programming space. The vision was created during our rally in front of the site with hotel workers in February. (Click here for details from that rally)

Four youth leaders entered the Mayors Office to provide testimony against the recently approved permitting of a Hampton Inn at the 11th street site by City Planner Rachel Flynn, the developers of which, are currently under investigation for wage theft. AYPAL youth wanted to share a vision that empowered community, rather than fund a developer with a track record of poverty wage hotels throughout the city. We spoke with Senior Advisor to the Mayor Peggy Moore, and were able to speak with Mayor Schaaf herself briefly following the meeting.

The following day, AYPAL staff marched with UNITE HERE / Local 2850 during a rally for minimum wage for fast food workers, which started at the same 11th street site to connect wage theft, poverty wage developers, and gentrification. AYPAL organizer Vincent Saephan spoke at the rally in support of all communities of color being targeted by unfair working conditions, displacement, and lack of resources.

When we fight, we win! But the fight is not over, please keep following us as this story progresses and we continue to push city decision makers to prioritize people over profits. Check out pictures from the delegation and rally below!


IMG_4568Youth describing our vision at the office of the Mayor!

IMG_4641AYPAL organizer Vincent Saephan speaking in solidarity at the 11th Street site!

IMG_4691The rally at city hall calling for “No poverty wage hotel in Oakland”!





Watch it on TV! Follow the link and click on the first agenda item to stream! KTOP coverage of our presentation HERE

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders face particular challenges when it comes to having our experiences made visible. Together, in partnership with The Spot Youth Center and Banteay Srei, we conducted a culture and climate survey of 500 API identified youth in Oakland in an effort to tell our stories more accurately, and from our own community’s perspective. On March 22nd, youth presented our survey findings and made recommendations to Oakland’s Life Enrichment Committee as invited by District 2 Council Member Abel Guillen. Our goal with this project is to shed light on the issues facing APIs, particularly Southeast Asian youth, who are often systematically left out of the conversation by city-wide data tracking that is not disaggregated by API sub-ethnicity. This is a core institutional issue that prevents all underrepresented communities from being seen and heard! We will continue to push for a response from the City and the Oakland Unified School District, backing statewide action towards improved data collection and reporting, while simultaneously creating space for youth to share their stories and make policy recommendations to decision makers.






AYPAL leads action with local union to fight gentrification!


“This hotel, it represents imperialism. They’re coming to a place that they don’t really know and they’re taking up the resources that this community desperately needs.”

– Jason Le, AYPAL Youth Leader.

While private developers try and tear our communities apart, AYPAL and Unite HERE / Local 2850 are building ours up! That’s exactly what we did last Thursday February 11th at the site of an empty lot in Chinatown proposed to become a Hampton Inn hotel by a poverty wage developer.

Check out photos of speeches from AYPAL youth leaders and Unite HERE members, us playing games with each other, and visioning what OUR community wants to see here instead of a hotel! All photos shot by Melanie Cervantes.

Peep links to other photos, and write-ups on this story in the NEWS below:

Stay tuned for more on how you can join us in the fight for Oakland!













AYPAL writes to the Mayor for our action against gentrification

Check it out!

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AYPAL youth respond to changes happening in Oakland in this powerful photo project. Check out the video below. Special thanks to Stevie Sanchez and Eastside Arts Alliance on this collaboration.

Funded by:

Check back on our website for updates on our anti-gentrification work.

Fresh off the Block Photo Project

Greetings AYPAL Fam!!!

AYPAL presents the “FOB:Fresh Off the Block Photo Project”

Please join us on Friday, December 11th at East Side Art Alliance for free food and a youth photo exhibit sharing their experiences growing up in Oakland and the changes in their communities.

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The exhibit will open at 4:00 pm and run until 7:00 pm at

East Side Art Alliance: 2277 International Blvd. Oakland, CA 94606.

We hope to see everyone there to build with us and celebrate the youth’s work on this photo project.


AYPAL Youth performances ranging from cultural dances, spoken word, guerrilla theater, hip hop dance, spoken word, and student created films; along with over 400 community members packed the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on May 21st 2015 to show us that our theme, “Unbreakable Roots: Cultivating Love and Resilience” rings true now more than ever.


AYPAL Youth performing Robam Kuos Angrae, the Khmer Bamboo Stick Dance

Truth delivered through spoken word to a packed house at OACC.

Back stage with the Chinese Fan Dance crew!

Students sharing their resiliency through guerrilla theater.

Rocky Rivera and the audience gettin live!

We were blessed by the wisdom given from our keynote speaker, Movement Generation’s very own Ellen Choy who spoke about the importance of ancestry, and resiliency based organizing. In true AYPAL form, our special guest performer, Rocky Rivera  brought the entire house to their feet and helped to close May Arts with swag.

Thank you for supporting Oakland’s next generation of revolutionary young leaders!


Our 17th Annual May Arts is Just Around the Corner! May 21st!


AYPAL’s 17th Annual May Arts Festival “Unbreakable Roots: Cultivating Love and Resilience” is a little more than a week away.

Please join us next Thursday, May 21st at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center for free food, youth swag, and a youth-centered arts showcase for social, economic, and climate justice.

Doors open at 5:30pm, and the show starts at 6:00pm at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center located at 388 9th St. Suite 290, Oakland, CA 94607. 

Special Guest Performances by:

American Center of Philippine Arts Rondalla


Rocky Rivera

This is a free community event where donations are appreciated: $3 suggested for youth, and $5-$20 suggested for adults. No one will be turned away for not donating.

Thank you to our Co-Sponsors:



The Oakland Fund for Children and Youth

The California Endowment

The Penney Family Fund

The Lakeshore Foundation

The Clorox Foundation

AYPAL Youth Mobilize for Worker Rights from Oakland to Baltimore to Cambodia!

This past Friday, May 1, 2015 a contingent of over 40 AYPAL youth headed to the city across the bay to bring fierce leadership, dynamic energy, and swag alongside those who are fighting for jobs with dignity, safe working conditions, and livable wages for (immigrant/refugee) communities (of color).


Bringing the noise with our very own drum line, our youth made sure to let San Francisco know that AYPAL will also organize in solidarity with workers, black resistance, queer family, immigrant/refugee communities, and all people impacted by power and oppression.


Our contingent brought a taste of Oakland to the Mission neighborhood, where we connected the on-going gentrification impacting both of our cities as manifestations of state violence impacted communities of color that we must resist against in order to keep our communities together!


Aligning ourselves with ongoing struggles for a world where women are free to exercise their agency to live without violence, we aligned ourselves with the #StandWithNanHui Campaign in order to demand that domestic violence survivors, and their children, are not deported or torn apart by the law.


We make movement building and social justice look good!

AYPAL’s 17th Annual May Arts- Save the Date: Thursday, May 21

“Unbreakable Roots: Cultivating Love & Resilience”

For the past 17 years, AYPAL has been committed to building a more socially just world by developing transformative youth power through the arts. 

On Thursday, May 21, we invite you to join the AYPAL family as we celebrate 17 years of arts-activism that have rooted our communities in resilience when faced with cycles of poverty, violence, and oppression. We will also be announcing our new, exciting, youth-driven campaign so you will not want to miss out! 

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Doors open at 5:30pm, and the show starts at 6:00pm at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center located at 388 9th St. Suite 290, Oakland, CA 94607. 

This is a free community event where donations are appreciated: $3 suggested for youth, and $5-$20 suggested for adults. No one will be turned away for not donating.

Cultural performances will include API cultural dances ranging from Cambodian, and Chinese Fan Dance to Filipino Tinikling, spoken word, Theater of the Oppressed, and hip-hop routines all showcasing AYPAL Youth!

Thank you to our Co-Sponsors:



Thank you to our funders: 

The Oakland Fund for Children and Youth

The California Endowment

The Penney Family Fund

The Lakeshore Foundation

The Clorox Foundation