Korean American Community Foundation

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KoreanAmerican Community Foundation

Demographicsof the Koreans and why they exist

Theobjective of this paper is to research and analyze the KoreanAmerican Community subculture. is asubcultural group1of the wider Korean American community in California. Korea Americansform the fifth largest Asian group in America in the few of the largemetropolitan areas of California which havethe highest population of 31%. More Korean Americans are being bornand brought up in America,and as such, they are more flexible and easily understand the conceptof philanthropy more than their parents. Korean American CommunityFoundation has values and norms which are different from those of themajority.Thenumber of Korean Americans in the Bay area of California are on anupward trajectory from what I observed. In the year 2,000, KoreanImmigrants were 1.2M from a total population of 11.9M. Statisticsindicate that California has a total population of 101,123 peoplewith the highest Asian population of 58.4 percent of Asian descent(Fagan). Asians make up 5.6 percent of the entire U.S. population.35.8% of Asian Americans constitute San Francisco`s population whichhas increased from 32.6% as it was a decade ago. The Korean communityliving in the bay area is highly educated and has a high level ofoverall well-being besides high –tech job opportunities. The jobmarket has not yet been exhausted,and there is dire need for skilled workers,and this is a contributing factor to the high rate of AsianImmigration into Bay Area.

Accordingto empiricalevidence2by Koran American Community Foundation(KACF), the majority of Korean American community lives under povertyearning low income and cannot afford medical insurance. Theinitiative of the Foundationwhich wascreatedin 2002 is to assist Korean community via raising funds that can beused to aide Korean families through empowerment and transformingcommunities. The Korean American Community is an agency3thatplays asignificantphilanthropic role and gives back to the society as a core element ofthe foundation. The picture below shows some of the members of KACFin this year.

Thegiving practice of Asian minorities has beenmerely misunderstood.KACFplays various roles in the community such as inter-communitydevelopment by granting and allocating funds in the community. Forexample, in 2005, KACF awarded$33,000 to not- profit organizations as an endeavor towards Inter-Community development. Consequentially, it steers the growth of thesociety. It also encourages a culture of giving and enhancing thestrength of the community and enlightening the community on how to beself –sufficient and securevia leveraging on available resources. An objective of KACF is toimprove the lives of Korean American through the issuance of grantsthus empowering its people economically thereby eliminating poverty.Furthermore, an endeavor to provide employment toimprove the economic status of its people and enable them to have adecent livelihood. Another reason why the group exists is to updatevolunteers of the fundraising events going on and events underway viathe medium such as the newsletter.

Inpartnership with different entities, KACF has made an effort to buildasolid foundationfor the community on-profit and as well as to develop Korean American nonprofitprofessionals. It has developed Capacity Building Consultant Programthat offers materials vital for guiding and training Consultants inaddition to achieving quality performance and sustainability. KACFprovidesstrategies which monitor the progress and development of thefoundation as well as its administration. For example, through NewYork Asian Women’s Center, the institution has partnered with KACFto provide Asian American women with a safe environment and shelterservices. Also, the two social institutions have worked together tocreate public awareness about violence against women and educatedthem about elder abuse. The issuing of grants has made moneyaccessible to the Korean American Community and boosted theirfinancial ability hence developing their financial muscle.

Themove hasbeen successful as a result of financial counselingand debt management services. Also.KACF grants provide support to ESL classes and free meal programs,social welfare services and cultural programs which are relevant toa growth of Korean American families based on the foundation ofChristianity indicated by the picture above. Therefore, KACF hasimproved the lifestyle of the Korean Americans regardless of whetherthey are young or old by investing in financial and changemanagement, leadership and strategic development in addition toplanning and financial management alienating poverty.

Theterritory of this group and where they arefoundtoday

Mostof the Korean Americans that I had a conversation with, they declineto go back to Korea claiming that they cannot afford to leave. Theyhave joined the older generation living in the Bronx who lives ingovernment-subsidized apartments for the elderly. They feltat home and settled in America according to one MS Lee whom I spoketo in one of the centers which began at a church. Many KoreanAmericans have assembled in different states of U.S and have beenassimilated there which has led to the lack of language skills. Theoutcome has been the lack of support services/access to supportservices due to language barriers. They lead an isolated life wheresocial amenities and necessary social services are lacking and if anythey do not operate in the Korean language. KACF isbasedin San Francisco with an objective of assisting neighbors who arevulnerable and lead deplorable lives. The effort of KACF ininstillingthe Korean culture in the Korean American Community cannot beignored.The foundation extends its function and leadership to New York asthey serve women and children vulnerable to domestic violence, humantrafficking as well as people with disability (Sook). Throughpartnerships and grants, KACF is at the forefront of transforminglives of immigrants, Korean American youth and old age citizensin Staten Island, Bergen County, Bronx and New Jersey who have a lowincome.

Identifyingcharacteristics and social behaviors among the members of KoreanAmerican Community Foundation

KoreanAmericans are a hardworkingand committed people a culture they instill in younger generations asillustrated by the above picture, the old and young generation blendswell. Koreans form part of the most highly educated people in Americadue to the Confucian emphasis they have on learning and education.The majority of the immigrants have the professional background fromtheir home country. However, most cannot fit into the American Systemdue to environmentaldeterminism4emanating from language barrier which has made them opt to conductbusinesses targeting Korean Americans. Exposure to downward mobilitysince immigration has led to mixed signals regarding the KoreanAmericans underlying abilities. Ironically, despite high proficiencyin education, Korean Americans still form part of low –incomepopulation of America. The reason behind this is that Korean Americanpopulation is young and mostly made of immigrants who cannot expressthemselves due to the language barrier.

Notably,giving is a tradition among the Koreans and an integral value of theKorean culture which commands loyalty and obligation to family,ethnic community and societyas a whole.Informal giving focuses on catering for the family first beforeproceeding to the community and society. It is a lifestyle amongthe1st generation Koreans. The generousact of giving ischaracterizedby giving basic needs such as food and shelter to new immigrants inaddition to financial aid. Events such as birth, marriageor deathprompt informal giving which is usually in the form of financialgiving. Social networks are conduits of freegiving and arethe foundation ofKorean American social life. From Korean American churches,immigrants canaccess education, customs,and jobs. Issuing of remittances is not a common practice among theKoreans as compared to other Asian communities living in the U.S.fewer paymentsis done to Korea because what has beenrealizedin U.S remains in America.

Whileeconomic security isjeopardized,the KACF has been able to sustain vulnerable populations to acquireself-sufficiency, have ahealthyfuture and better standards of life. Thishasbeenachievedthrough investing in programs that built and establishedthe economic security of low-income Korean Americans in New York andother prevalent states. KACF prioritizes organizations who are incollaboration with Korean Americans as a target population/ peoplewho are assisted by the program. Moreover, they are in support ofprograms that engage and serve the Korean American community.They have successfully managed to acquire access to affordable andstable housing. In a similar manner, through such projects, trainingand acquisition of skills have been realized in addition to jobopportunities. The foundation`s economic security has beenresourceful with benefits such as financial empowerment and training,public benefit and access to affordable housing something which wouldhave been a dream for many if KACF was not in existence. AsI was doing my study, I noticedthat Christian giving and volunteerism are predominant in the livesof Korean Americans who mostly are Christians. The church has beensupportive in conjunction with KACF in providing immigrants withsocial networking and services in addition to learning English as aforeign language, cultural environment,and linguistics. Korean American churches prioritize serving needsof its people first considering the ones who are needy as theycontribute heftily towards a good cause. The church is activelyparticipating in humanitarian aid effort with a lot of positivityfrom within alsogivingcounts regardingoffering in church programs. Philanthropy is becoming a trend and acommon gesture in churches,but to an extent, it has beenreceivedwith negativity from nonreligiousorganizations that are after Korean –American donors terming themas competitors.

KACFacts as a center and vitallink between elderlyKoreans who are scattered across the globe and enable them to adaptto the American culture. The organization is an advocate forthe community which fosters excellentcommunity cohesion via participatory granting model. It is a platformthat offers supporters a chance to optimize their talents andgifting. The social behaviors have beeninfluencedby cultural frameworks that affect patterns and the extreme to whichKorean Americans access health information. As a result ofCultural relativism5,the majority are not familiar with American health care system, smallmedicalinsurance cover, social support,and networks forming barriers to health care outcomes. Migrating tothe different state which has different environmental constraint andcultural barrier, impedes and affects immigrant’s health patternsand behaviors. Health disparities have led to high suicide rates,and tocounteract this phenomenon, in my perspective,it is vital to increase awareness and access to health information.Reports indicate that Korean Americans have in the past obtainedlow-quality health care than the natives (Korean American CommunityFoundation).

SocialConsensus6is afundamentalcharacteristic of social networks knows what your counterpart isaware of and the appropriate time to seek help/information frominformants7.Individual social networking is a more adequateand ready means of getting responses from other people in case ofquestions concerning specialized health knowledge from those who havehad similar experiences. The need for one –on –one advice abouthealth issues is a driving factor as to why people seek solutionsfrom others within their social circles where they can talk abouttheir conditions and concern with the health experts who may be outof reach at that particular time. Given that the Korean AmericanImmigrants receive little or no attention at all from healthpersonnel, the use of personal networking comes in handy at such atime as a primary source of vital health information. Personalnetworking provides substantialsupport from family members, relatives,and friends which lead to better health results as a result ofpositive influence. Inevitably, social support networks haveadvantages which if utilized well can facilitate the rightunderstanding of necessary health information. Thisisbecause members of same social network understand each other more dueto similar language and background. Questioners canshare their experiences on complex health issues/ rare healthconditions with people who do not have them for them to have a widerand better perspective concerning the diseases. From my observationas well as research, immigrants have the experienceor senseof belonging when they share information with their colleagues fromKorea as opposed to individuals who are non-Korean. It has beenconfirmedthrough KACF that shared information is reliable and accurate becausesocial network members share similar lifestyles and health beliefs.The application of social support network has hadthe upper handdue to the existence of different health care system, ease of usingKorean language, shared experience and a basis of a sense ofbelonging.

Inconclusion, the cultural background of Korean Americans encouragesfriendship,and I found it to be the essentialaspect of helpingsocial support for the immigrants. Also,family and Korean churches form the basis of well-established socialnetworking as many Korean immigrants convert to Christianity. Thechurch is a prominent avenue of providing information, assistance andmeeting point of different diverse communities as they adjust to newenvironment and the new culture. The Korean-American community hasincorporated their preciouscultural values from the mother country to their host nationmaintaining their values. It is of the essence to have more diverseand proper channels of communication that deliver information innative language thus reach larger masses of Korean Immigrantpopulation that is swelling each and every day. In my opinion, theKACF needs to develop relevant programs which are culturallysensitive to disseminate information that is necessary for accessingsupport and health care information.


Fagan,Kevin. AsianPopulation swells in Bay Area, state, nation.22 Mar 2012. article. 15 Oct 2016.

KoreanAmerican Community Foundation. KoreanAmerican Community Foundation of San Francisco.2014. Article. 16 Oct 2016.

Sook,Lee Eun. &quotPolitical awakening of Korean Americans.&quot Sook,Lee Eun. Thepolitical awakening of Korean Americans.Chicago: Centennial Publication, 2005. 337-350. Book.

1 Sub- group culture: a sect of a group that has beliefs and behaviors that differ from the major group

2 Empirical evidence-data acquired through observation/ experimentation

3 Agency-fiduciary relationship between two parties where one is the principal

4 Environmental determinism-situation whereby physical environment interferes with social and cultural development

5 Cultural relativism-perspective of viewing all cultures as equal in regard to morality

6 Social consensus- the aspect of political/ economic system being reasonable enough to inhibit social changes within a social institution

7 Informant- a person who gives information

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