Asian Women Giving Circle Asian Women Giving Circle


Sip Shop Swap 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                Contact: Hali Lee

From Murals and Graphic Novels to Smartphone Apps: Asian Women Giving Circle
Awards Cultural Strategy Grants to NYC Artists and Community Groups

NEW YORK CITY, NY (July 2014)  A large-scale public mural in Brooklyn’s Chinatown and a graphic novel aimed at educating New York City’s immigrant communities about their civil liberties are among seven artists and community groups receiving grants from the Asian Women Giving Circle this year.

“This year’s grantees represent a vibrant cross-section of Asian American artists and community groups in New York City that are harnessing the power of arts and culture to bear witness to injustice and inspire people to take action in their own lives,” said Hali Lee, founder of the Asian Women Giving Circle. “We are pleased to honor these culture-makers who are challenging the status quo with their own bold visions of a more fair, just and inclusive society.”

The 2014 Asian Women Giving Circle project grantees are:

Documentary Film:  What Happened to Danny?
Created by ManSee Kong  and Third World Newsreel
A $11,000 grant to support the production of “What Happened to Danny?” a documentary by first-time filmmaker ManSee Kong about the life and death of Danny Chen, a U.S. Army Private from Chinatown, NYC whose alleged hazing and ostracism at the hands of his supervisors led to his apparent suicide. The film follows Danny's mother and community organizers as they advocate for justice. This project was funded in 2012 by the AWGC.

Educational Video:  Asian Kids Don't Count
Created by Barbara Lee, Pointmade Films, and the Calhoun School
A $11,000 grant to support “Asian Kids Don't Count,” one of 13 educational videos in a series on racism, aimed at teens that will complement a completed documentary film, “I'm Not Racist... Am I?” The project includes a toolkit for teachers and teens that will explore macro issues of racism such as bigotry and privilege and stereotyping including the model minority myth and derogatory depictions of Asians in the media.

Mural:  We Come from the Future
Created by Vaimoana Niumeitolu and Ping Chong & Company  
A $11,000 grant to fund the creation of a public mural in Sunset Park, home to Brooklyn’s large Asian American community. Led by artist Vaimoana Niumeitolu, the “We Come from the Future” project will work with immigrant women, mothers and grandmothers to depict immigrant women’s daily lives of courage and strength. The project will include mural classes and mentoring for three young women muralists.

Storytelling and Photography:  Shifting the Power of Storytelling into the Hands of Women.   Created by CAAAV (Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence)
A $9,500 grant for the development of “Asian Communities – Shifting the Power of Storytelling into the Hands of Women”, a multi-generational project using storytelling and photography in partnership with the Chinatown Tenants Union and Asian Youth in Action. The project will shed light on issues such as gentrification, rezoning, affordable housing, police violence, and stop and frisk. Artwork will be publicly exhibited and featured in CAAAV advocacy campaigns.

Graphic Novel:  DANGER! Police Involvement in Mass Deportation
Created by the Immigrant Defense Project and the Fund for the City of New York
A $11,000 grant forDANGER! Police Involvement in Mass Deportation,” a graphic novel that aims to help immigrant communities navigate the complex intersections of the criminal justice and immigration systems and rally support for the fight against deportation. The project is a collaboration of the Immigration Defense Project, the Sex Workers Project and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Community Storytelling Project:  Kavad: Mother Tongue
Created by Kundiman, Inc.
A $7,500 grant to support “Kavad: Mother Tongue”, a community storytelling project comprised of interviews, writing workshops, new media and a public reading encompassing the stories of three generations of women, reflecting on the difficulties and triumphs of building new lives in America. Led by Kundiman-affiliated poets, the project includes oral history, an online archive and creative writing workshops at the Chinatown Youth Initiative, South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!) and UniPro (Philipino American Unity for Progress).

Multimedia Project:  Priya’s Shakti
Created by Rattapallax, Inc.
A $9,000 grant to for Priya’s Shakti, an innovative art, cultural and multimedia project, which includes a graphic novel, smartphone apps, and video, designed to draw attention to and activate responses to gender-based violence in India, arising from the 2012 brutal gang rape on a bus in New Delhi. Drawing on Hindu myth and classic Bollywood films, the project reorients traditional Hindu tales with a modern feminist sensibility and features the stories of real-life survivors of sexual assault. The project plans to launch to exhibit at the Mumbai Comic Con and several U.S. cities and develop a teachers’ guide and workshops at City Lore in the East Village, NYC. The project won the 2014 Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund from the Ford Foundation.





The Partner Track-Order your copy here Helen Wan

Asian Women Giving Circle's Celebration of Activism Through the Arts at MOCA 2013


Total Funds Distributed: $544,500 to fund 64 project grants from 2006 to 2013.
Every donor can vote to decide what projects get funded.

2013 Grantee Projects

Group Photography Exhibit: The Asian Pride Project – Our Portraits, Our Family
Highlighting the diversity of Asian LGBTQ families
Created by Aries Lao and Suma Reddy of the Asian Pride Project

Multi Media Public Art Project: Comfort Women Wanted
Women survivors of Japanese WWII "comfort stations" and the sex trafficking of Asian women today
Created by Chang-Jin Lee

Documentary: Claiming Our Voice
South Asian immigrant domestic workers create a theatrical production that shows
their struggles and survival strategies
Created by Jennifer Samuel and Fine Grain Films

Documentary: License to Pimp
Sex worker exploitation and labor issues
Created by Hima B.

Summer Arts Program – Culture and Arts as Resistance
Program for Cambodian and Southeast Asian youth and elders to share their histories
and build community in the Bronx
Created by Chhaya Chhoum of Mekong

Collaborative Community Art Project – Portraits of New York Chinatown
Gentrification and community change in Chinatown
Created by Tomie Arai and the Museum of Chinese in America

Theater Workshop: Q Up: Out of School Storytelling and Theatre Program
Pan Asian empowerment program for high school and college age girls in Queens, NY
Created by Farah Bala and Nancy Kim of the Rising Circle Theatre Collective

Public Art and Theater Performance: – Freedom. Safety. NOW!
Response to the fatal rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence issues
Created by Jaishri Abichandani, Parijat Desai, and Shruti Parekh of the South Asian Women's Creative Collective

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            Contact: Hali Lee, Hali (at)

The Many Faces of NYC’s Asian America: Asian Women Giving Circle
Awards $71,000 in Arts Grants for Social Change to Artists and Community Groups

NEW YORK CITY, NY (June 20, 2013) – From long-time Chinatown residents to newly arrived Cambodian teenagers in the Bronx, from domestic workers rights to telling the stories of sexually exploited women and girls, the many individual people, social issues and stories that make up New York City’s evolving Asian American community are mirrored by the eight artists and community-based organizations selected for project grants from the Asian Women Giving Circle this year.

“The incredible range of experiences explored in the proposals we received this year – and reflected in our eight grantees –speaks to the vibrancy and diversity of our community here in New York City and the greater Asian diaspora, and the urgency with which artists are working to bring those experiences to the forefront to create political and social change,” said Asian Women Giving Circle Founder Hali Lee.
The 2013 Asian Women Giving Circle project grantees are:

Asian Pride Project  – A $12,000 grant for Our Portraits, Our Family, a group photography exhibit that will feature portraits of individuals and families from the Asian American and Pacific Islander LGBTQ community, which has been historically underrepresented and silenced. The grant will help mount a gallery exhibit showcasing these families.

Chang-Jin Lee – A $15,000 grant for Comfort Women Wanted, a public art project incorporating interviews with survivors of Japanese “comfort stations” where women were imprisoned as sex slaves during World War II and how this is related to the ongoing sexual trafficking of women and girls today. The grant will support installation of ad-like art displays in collaboration with the NYC Department of Transportation’s Urban Art initiative, kiosk phone booth posters at major sites citywide and a panel discussion at Columbia University.

Fine Grain Films – A $5,500 grant to create a website, companion curriculum and score for Claiming Our Voice, a short documentary that follows a group of South Asian female domestic worker immigrants as they create an original theatrical production that shines an intimate light on their struggles and lives in the US.

Hima B. – A $5,000 grant to support a final cut of License to Pimp, a documentary by a first-time filmmaker that documents the lives of three strippers as they struggle within a profession that does not formally recognize their rights as workers. The film casts an unflinching eye on the financial hardships that can lead some strippers to prostitution and explores this new frontier in labor justice.

Mekong – A $15,000 grant for this community-based organization that serves the Southeast Asian community in the Bronx to launch Culture and Arts Resistance, an eight-week intergenerational summer program where young and elder women will work collaboratively on a storytelling and photography project aimed at community building and healing, touching on topics including immigration and political trauma. The project will be exhibited at the Bronx Museum and venues within the Cambodian community.

Museum of the Chinese in the Americas – A $5,000 grant for Portraits of New York Chinatown, a collaborative arts project led by artist Tomie Arai that will incorporate interviews with Chinatown residents on issues including gentrification and an invitation to the public to bring objects from their personal collections. The project culminates in an exhibition in the MOCA galleries in September 2013 that will include portraiture, interview excerpts, photographs and objects.

Rising Circle Theatre Collective – A $3,500 grant to support “Q Up,” a free, out-of-school, four-day program that will pair 20-24 Asian American/South Asian high school and college-age young women from Queens, NY, with professional female artists to create and perform their own stories, including at a staged reading at Queens College.

South Asian Women’s Creative Collective – A $10,000 grant for Freedom. Safety. NOW!, a project triggered by the 2012 fatal rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi, incorporates dance, music and art to raise awareness of sexual and gender-based violence and sexual freedom in Asia and in Asian American communities. SAWCC plans to stage performances in coordination with NYU for Gender Violence Awareness Week and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The Asian Women Giving Circle, the first and largest volunteer giving circle in the nation led by Asian American women, funds art projects that contribute to cultural and political change created by Asian American women artists and activists in New York City. Since 2006, the AWGC has raised and distributed nearly $550,000 in funding to arts and social change projects. Fiscally sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women, AWGC is a member of the Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and the National Giving Circle Network. ##


Click HERE to download the press release.

Sip, Shop, Swap 2013

Celebration of Activism thru the Arts - Postoned until Fall 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          Contact: Angie Wang, 917-576-5423

Asian Women Giving Circle Awards $55,000 in Project Grants to NYC Artists
and Social Change Organizations

Grantees Illuminate Experiences of Asian American Women in US and Beyond,
from Comfort Women to Domestic Workers

NEW YORK CITY, NY (June 28, 2012) – A documentary about the community response to the death of Private Danny Chen, an oral history project on the lives of domestic workers and a film featuring Muslim American comics are among the nine recipients of the 2012 Asian Women Giving Circle (“AWGC”) project grants for arts that contribute to cultural and political change.

“This year we received an unprecedented number of applications – 50 percent more than we saw seven years ago when the Asian Women Giving Circle was founded,” said AWGC Founder Hali Lee. “Both the quality and quantity of the work we received speaks volumes about the vitality of arts within New York City’s Asian American community as a force for change.”

The recession has forced many states to slice their arts budgets for the 2012 fiscal year; over the past decade, government funding for the arts has dropped 42 percent nationwide, according to National Assembly of State Arts Agencies data. Funding for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) has been reduced by nearly 30 percent over the past four years, the largest cut to any state agency. 

“When arts funding plummets, artists of color are historically among the hardest hit, which is why the Asian Women Giving Circle is more fiercely committed than ever to do what we can to support the vision of artists and arts organizations that seize the power of the arts for social change,” said Lee. The 2012 AWGC project grantees are:

Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) – The Thumbprint of Mukhtar Mai: A $5,000 project grant to support this chamber opera by composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Susan Yankowitz, inspired by the story of Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who was gang raped as a child and became the first woman in her country’s history to bring her rapists to justice. The opera will premiere in 2013-2014. and

Chang-Jin Lee - Comfort Women Wanted: A $8,500 project grant for visual artist Chang-Jin Lee’s video based on interviews with Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Filipino, and Dutch women survivors of Japanese WWII “comfort stations.” The project aims to connect this historical atrocity to the continuing sexual exploitation and trafficking of Asian women today.

Domestic Worker Oral History Project - Domestic Worker Oral History ProjectA $7,000 project grant to support community activists Dao Tran and Sarah Macaraeg, who are creating the first-ever multimedia collection of oral histories by US domestic workers, many of them Asian women, will be available online and published by the nonprofit Haymarket Books, with royalties going to domestic worker organizations. Home to approximately 200,000 domestic workers, NYC workers will represent the bulk of those interviewed.

Lenora Lee Dance - Rescued Memories: NY Stories: A $5,000 project grant to support an interdisciplinary dance work inspired by stories of women who sought refuge from human trafficking in Lutheran and Presbyterian missions in NY Chinatown in the early 20th century, and  links their experience to their counterparts today. It will premiere at San Francisco’s de Young Museum fall 2013 and the Baryshnikov Arts Center in NY in

ManSee Kong – What Happened to Danny (Working Title): A $10,000 project grant to support director/producer ManSee Kong’s documentary about Private Danny Chen, whose death by gunshot suicide in the wake of brutal hazing by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, drew national attention. Kong, who was granted unprecedented access to Chen’s family, tracks the investigation into Danny’s death and the family and community’s efforts to seek justice.

Moving Earth Productions –Formosa: A $3,000 project grant to support a solo show by poet, playwright, filmmaker, and activist Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai. The piece examines cultural identity, beauty and globalization through the history of Barbie doll manufacturing in Taiwan. Tsai plays four characters: a Spanish explorer in mid-1600s Formosa; a modern-day female hip-hop emcee; a young Chinese adoptee girl; and a Mattel factory worker. The show will premiere March 2013 at NYC’s HERE Arts Center.

People’s Theatre Project – College Eye D: A $6,000 project grant to support a documentary theater piece led by award-winning playwright, actor, and filmmaker Christine Toy Johnson that addresses issues of identity and depression among Asian Pacific American (APA) and other women of color. The piece will be performed in conjunction with three colleges in the NYC area in 2013. and

The Muslims Are Coming! - The Muslims Are Coming!An $8,000 project grant to support this documentary feature directed and produced by comedian and filmmaker Negin Farsad, which follows a group of Muslim-American comedians as they perform standup shows, street actions, meet locals and explore Islamophobia from big cities to small towns through the lens of comedy. and

Q-Wave - QAPI Collaborative Writing Workshop: A $2,500 project grant to support four writing workshops led by women writers in the fall 2012 led by Q-Wave in collaboration with Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York and the South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association of New York City. The project will culminate in an October 2012 public reading event, exploring issues of ethnicity and sexuality.

The Asian Women Giving Circle, first and largest volunteer giving circle in the nation led by Asian American women, funds art projects that contribute to cultural and political change created by Asian American women artists and activists in New York City. Since 2006, the AWGC has raised and distributed over $430,000 in funding to arts and social change projects. Fiscally sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women, AWGC is a member of the Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and the National Giving Circle Network.


Click HERE to download the press release.

Sip, Shop and Swap!

Brooklyn Shopping Event

Asian Women Giving Circle Grantee Video

Women & Philanthropy

We are thrilled that our new book, "Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World" was released on September 21.  The book surely could not have been written without all of your support and continuing interest.  You all have played such an inspirational role in the writing of our book and we hope you will be thrilled to see what your input has produced.

Dr. Claire Guadiani from NYU wrote us and said, "Huge Bravas at the publication of the book.  I am eager to use it in my classes next year.  Thank you for all your hard work."

How exciting are those wonderful words?  But it was all of you who were our motivation.  Your work and your support mattered enormously to the creation of the book and we could not have done it without you.

Of special importance to us are the words from Debra Mesch, Executive Director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute and Andrea Pactor, Associate Director.  In the Preface to "Women and Philanthropy," they wrote:

"This book should be required reading for everyone who cares about bringing as many individuals and resources as possible to the table to advance the public good, whether they are fundraisers or donors, men or women. The truth, plain and simple, is that stereotypes linger when one uses the words women and philanthropy in the same sentence. This book offers solid evidence that women’s philanthropy is not a trend or a passing fancy, but that it has become, in rich and varied ways, an important component of the philanthropic landscape."

-Sondra Hardy

AWGC participated in the opinion leaders call about the research findings in Women Give 2010.  Your thoughtful comments helped to shape responses to many media inquiries we received.
Press on Women Give 2010:  USA Today

The press release and full report are available at:  

Maria Yoon and Kate Rigg on WNYC TV Channel 25, Asian America (PBS), Dec 6th Watch it here

Article on giving circles posted on So You Want to Start a Giving Circle

AWGC steering committee at MOCA

AWGC grantees
Artists AWGC has supported

Jeanne Chinard has written a wonderful article about AWGC and our MOCA event on her blog


4th Annual Celebration of Activism Thru The Arts

Sip, Swap, Shop



The Asian Women Giving Circle is proud to support The Up Close & Personal series at the South Asian International Film Festival. The Up Close & Personal series will be showing at The Rubin Museum of Art on Saturday, Oct. 25th. The Series Includes:

"A Drop of Life"
"Healthy. Happy. Holi"
"Kerala Brides"
"Holding Fast"

The best way to get a synopsis on the films is to visit

The Living Portrait: 2007 Grantee
It announces the artist reception, the 11 day installation and the panel discussion. Considering that a recent newspaper article stated that 50% of undergraduate women say they have experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence stemming from personal relationships before or during college using the Living Portrait to educate, raise awareness and to offer opportunities for assistance is extremely valuable.

A major goal of the Living Portrait is also to inspire visitors to become involved in the fight against domestic violence. I think this installation at NYU at 5 venues is a great step toward that end.

Thanks for the inspiration and help by the Asian Women Giving Circle.

Larry Lee
Executive Director
New York Asian Women's Center

The Asian Women Giving Circle is proud to support the Asian American International Film Festival. We're sponsoring a panel discussion, "Female Gaze," and 2 docs - Megumi and Flower in the Pocket. Purchase tickets below... for our sponsored films, you can use this discount code "Cointe." For purchases of 10 tickets or more, call 212-327-9385.

Article in AsianWeek
The Asian Women Giving Circle
By: Emily Leach, Mar 23, 2008
New York City women ‘geh-t’ together to give big

The smallest piece of the pie, the least amount of visibility and little financial support are all terms that describe the Asian Pacific Islander nonprofit sector Nonprofit-Banker — but Hali Lee and her organization, the Asian Women Giving Circle, are working to change that...

2nd Annual Donor & Grantee Convening: Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Please join us as we celebrate our 2007 Grantees
The Asian Women Giving Circle invites you to our
2nd Annual Donor & Grantee Convening

Food, Drinks and Presentations of the 2007 AWGC sponsored projects by grantees on
Wednesday, March 5, 2008 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Asian American Writers’ Workshop
16 West 32nd Street, #10A New York NY 10001

Suggested donation $20
Please RSVP to
or call 646-300-6173

AAPIP - Growing Community Philanthropy Video

  • Echoing Green semifinalist
  • 2007 South Asian International Film Festival
    October 3rd - 9th, 2007 in New York City.

    India / SAIFF Premiere / 2007
    Director: Santana Issar
    Duration: 11 mins

    Synopsis: In the piecing together of home videos shot by her parents nearly 2 decades earlier, and through a string of conversations with her father, mother, and sister, a daughter looks to understand the impact of her father's alcoholism on each of their lives: the sister's refusal to include him in her life; the mother's belief that her daughters should reach out to their father despite her own refusal to see him; the father's moment of honest introspection.
    In talking to them, the questions she is struggling with come to the fore: should she stand behind him, drawing only on her memories of what a wonderful father he was? Or should she move on, and build her life without him?

    About the Director: Santana Issar graduated in Economics from Delhi University in 2005. Thereafter she interned briefly with a news channel before coming upon work as an assistant director on a corporate film. The chance to direct Bare - her first film - came along a year later.
    Since Bare’s completion she has worked with a media action group, and is currently completing a research fellowship on animal activism.
    India / New York Premiere / 2007
    Director: Sara Singh
    Producer: Sara Singh
    Written by: Sara Singh

    Synopsis: From the shared, ancient history of the Indus Civilization, the people of the Northwest area of the Subcontinent have connections that go back millennia. In 1947, the partition of this region left a legacy of suspicion and a profound inability to reconcile this political divide. From Kutch to Kashmir and from Karachi to the Khyber Pass, some of the ground realities of the lingering fallout are explored; and also, if reconciliation is possible between two countries with interwoven histories…after 60 years of strained relations and the unresolved crisis in Kashmir. A former terrorist, politicians, royalty, citizens, historians, and others share their insights of the past, present, and future of this volatile, yet emerging, South Asian economic bloc.
    Folk singers recorded live in their surroundings, found footage, verite and conceptual location shooting, contemporary and archival still photography are merged to emphasize the contrasted realities which compose this culturally connected, yet politically disconnected, region.

    About the Director: Sara Singh was born in India and has spent most of her life in the US. She is an artist, writer, photographer, and filmmaker. 'The Sky Below' is her first documentary completed entirely on her own, with no other crew.
  • Asian Women Giving Circle: Reception to Meet the Directors -Sunday, July 22nd, 2007 4pm-6pm
    Spice Restaurant 1411 2nd Ave (between 74th and 75th St.
    RSVP to
  • The Asian Women Giving Circle is proud to co-sponsor three films made by our grantees to be screened at the 2007 Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) The filmmakers and their projects exemplify our Circle’s arts and activism mission in a way that is powerful, creative and moving. Click for details.
  • May 2007 Press Release
  • Friday, March 16, 2007: Grant Applications Deadline 5 p.m., PST
  • June 2007: Notification of Grant Awards
  • Fall 2007: Convening of Awardees and Giving Circle
  • February 1, 2008: Mid-year self-evaluation due to AWGC
  • July 31, 2008: Final Report due to AWGC

2006 Giving Circle

Giving Circle Member Melinda Chu

Giving Circle Members Lisa Philp Shinhee Han and Rini Banerjee

Giving Circle Member Tuhina De OConnor

Lisa Philp Hali Lee and Aiyoung Choi

Videographer Nat Soti capture sand interviews all

Giving Circle members Shinhee Han with AAPIP representatives Bo Thao and Peggy Saika

Facilitator Vera Miao

Asian Women Giving Circle 2007

The Asian Women Giving Circle is a donor advised fund of the Ms. Foundation for Women
12 MetroTech Center, 26th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 phone: 212.742.2300

The Asian Women Giving Circle is a member of the AAPIP National Giving Circle Network.

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