Sapna NYC Directors Advocate for Budget Equity, Expanded Funding for Community Based Organizations

As New York City legislators work through the budget process for Fiscal Year 2022 (which starts July 1, 2021), Sapna staff is working alongside many other BIPOC-led community based organizations (CBOs) to advocate for funding for our working class immigrant communities of color, whose struggles have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. While we missed the annual rally on the steps of City Hall, we were able to come together in different ways to make our community seen and heard. The month of February was packed with Zoom conferences with City Council Members, Asian Pacific American (APA) coalition calls, City Council Committee Hearings, presentations on the needs of the community, and a Teach-In relaying the stories of how COVID-19 has impacted our communities. 

As part of the 15% and Growing Coalition of over 45 APA organizations across New York City, Sapna continues to advocate for a budget that reflects the more than 1.3 million APAs who live in New York City. Nearly a quarter of APAs live in poverty, the highest of all racial groups in NYC and Asian Americans have the highest rate of linguistic isolation in the city. Despite the fast-growing population and high need in our communities, APA organizations receive less than 1.5% of city discretionary funding. As part of Sapna’s mission, we not only provide direct services to our community, but we also advocate at local, state, and national levels for equity and justice in policy and funding. 

In an Asian American Federation legislative meeting, attended by Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and other policy makers, our executive director, Diya Basu-Sen, spoke on the importance of economic empowerment for immigrant women and the work Sapna is doing to expand economic opportunities for our community. 

“Economic empowerment is essential for our immigrant communities, particularly for our women and improves outcomes for families on all levels, including health outcomes,” said Diya. “Right now on average Bangladeshi women earn 69 cents for every dollar a white man makes. We need accessible workforce development programs so that our immigrant communities can expand the industries and types of jobs they can get to reduce poverty and vulnerability in times of crisis.”

Sapna’s directors also met with City Council Members to advocate for more funding for BIPOC-led CBOs in the areas of digital inclusion and literacy, mental health, food pantries, college and career readiness, health access, and legal services for low-income New Yorkers, among others. Additionally, Sapnatestified at committee hearings on mental health and on language access in New York City’s hospitals, emphasizing the work that CBOs like Sapna are doing in the community and how we are on the frontlines reaching our community members with linguistically accessible and culturally attuned services and programming. During this pandemic, nonprofits all over New York City have stepped up to help fill the gap between community needs and government services.