YES Prep Public Schools

Origins of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month 

What first started as APIA Week in 1972 after President Jimmy Carter signed a presidential proclamation, evolved into a month-long celebration by 1992 when congress passed a bill designating the month of May to reflect on the achievements and contributions of the APIA community.  

The month of May is particularly special for the APIA community because it commemorates the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843 and honors the 20,000 Chinese workers who participated in the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. 

Who makes up the APIA community?  

The APIA community is made up of Asian peoples with origins in Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, as well as Pacific Islanders belonging to Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. This classification includes (but is not limited to) Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Guamanian, Fijian and Papua New Guinean people.   

It’s important to understand that not all APIA are the same. The APIA community holds approximately 50 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages. The Asian diaspora across the world represents many different languages, religions, cultures and faiths.   

The Model Minority Myth, despite its seemingly positive connotations, actually harms the APIA community. It overlooks the economic struggles many immigrant Asians and Pacific Islanders encounter, excludes them from conversations about racial discrimination, and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Even seemingly positive stereotypes portraying all Asians as intelligent and prosperous contribute to this damaging narrative.   

2024 annual APIA Summit 

Each year, our APIA Summit provides a safe and welcoming space for our Asian Pacific Islander American students and staff to embrace their unique identities, make meaningful connections and become empowered to lead change in their communities. This year the annual summit will be held on Saturday, May 4, at the Eternal Gandhi Museum of Houston and YES Prep Brays Oaks Secondary. 

Learn about this year’s summit > 

Scholarship opportunities for APIA students 

We have compiled a list of scholarship opportunities specifically for our Asian Pacific Islander American students and alumni. If you have a scholarship opportunity you’d like for us to include in our blog, email us at  

Against the Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship 
Award: $1,500 
Deadline: Friday, May 31 

The Against the Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship provides financial assistance to Asian American high school seniors and college students who have exhibited exemplary leadership, vision and passion that is blazing a trail for others to follow and changing lives in the Asian American community. This year, Against the Grain Productions will award a scholarship in the amount of $1,500.  

Apply and learn more >

#LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship
Award: $1,000 
Deadline: Friday, May 31 

The #LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship was created in honor of Lyly Koenig Mendez who worked in TV and film production and was a skilled graphic and fashion designer. This scholarship provides financial assistance to Asian American college students pursuing a major in fashion and/or graphic design. This year, Against the Grain Productions will award one scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to an eligible high school senior or college student.

Apply and learn more >

Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship
Award: $1,500 - $2,500
Deadline: Friday, May 31
The Thear Sy Suzuki R.I.S.E. Scholarship provides financial assistance to Asian American high school seniors, college, or graduate students who have exhibited an ability to rise above circumstances, demonstrated the ability to lift up others, and shown exemplary servant leadership in the Asian American community and beyond. Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA to apply.

We are proud to serve our Asian Pacific Islander American students and the communities they are from today and every day.  

We hope you will join us in celebrating APIA Month via social media. Follow along by using #YESPrepAPIA. 

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