As part of the investment by the California State Legislature into improving the data available on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities in California, the AAPI Data project at the University of California, Riverside received an allocation to support social science research on the needs of AA and NHPI communities in California. Drawing on this allocation, AAPI Data is pleased to announce the awarding of $1.1 million across 8 teams of academic and community-based researchers based at 5 UC campuses to expand the public policy research knowledge base for these communities. 

The research approaches for these projects include quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Each awardee will be responsible for delivering three products that will present the knowledge and data gained through the conducted research and present concrete policy solutions or recommendations.

“These grants build on AAPI Data’s initial work to expand the data and research capacity on Asian American and NHPI needs and our collaboration with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Health Interview Survey,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, the founder and director of the AAPI Data program and a professor at UCR’s School of Public Policy. “We thank the California State Legislature and the California API Legislative Caucus for their leadership and support to advance data equity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in California.”

The grants are funded from a $10 million allocation to AAPI Data provided by the state Legislature in 2021. These funds were part of the $166.5 million Asian and Pacific Islander Equity Budget approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“The API Equity Budget recognized that California needs to expand its research capacity to study Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander populations to inform effective policies to help our communities,” said Richard Pan, AAPI Data Senior Policy Advisor and Past-Chair of the AAPI Legislative Caucus. “These eight research projects at UC are the beginning steps of this investment to make AA/NHPI populations more visible to policymakers.”

This round of awards was directed toward entities and personnel affiliated with the University of California system. The AAPI Data program is seeking a second round of proposals from a broader range of institutions, including other colleges and universities, research centers, and community-based organizations. For more information about applying for the second round of proposals, please visit for full details. Deadline for submitting proposals is 6 pm Pacific Time on March 7, 2023.

The selected research projects from this round of funding are:

  1. How School Climate Influences the Bullying Experiences of California’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Youth: Long Terms Trends Across AANHPI Ethnic Subgroups
  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Kevin Gee, UC Davis School of Education (in collaboration with Dr. North Cooc, College of Education, University of Texas, Austin) 
  • Description: The project will address two research questions using data from the California Healthy Kids Survey: 1) How do rates of school bullying differ between AANHPI subgroups in California and how have those rates changed over time, especially over the course of the pandemic? 2) How is school climate (e.g., caring relationships with adults at school and school connectedness) associated with the bullying experiences of AANHPI youth in California, overall, and by ethnic subgroups?
  • Quote from the team: “Targeted funding to support policy-relevant research on AA and NHPI communities is extremely rare. We’re extremely grateful for this unprecedented support from UC Riverside AAPI Data and the California State Legislature–it will help us uplift our AA and NHPI youth and allow us to break new ground in developing strategies to prevent hate and bullying against California’s diverse AA and NHPI youth, a group often overlooked in mainstream policy discussions on school bullying,” said Kevin Gee, Professor, School of Education, UC Davis.

2. Addressing Basic Needs Equity Gaps at the University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Principal Investigator: Katie Maynard, Acting Director of Campus Sustainability, UC Santa Barbara
  • Description: UCSB is seeking to conduct research on AANHPI students to better understand barriers to utilization of campus basic needs services, root causes of food and housing insecurity, promising practices to better reach underrepresented AANHPI students through intentional and focused outreach methods, and to develop recommendations to inform campus and the University of California Systemwide policy as well as the legislature. Currently, the state legislature funds the most basic needs funding for the campus. Through this research, we hope to influence future funding cycles and priorities based on the needs of the AANHPI community and ideas from the community needs assessment.
  • Quote from the team: “The AA and NHPI communities represent a diverse set of cultures and socio-economic experiences, and yet very little research has been done to disaggregate the basic needs experiences of the populations included in these groupings,” said Katie Maynard, Acting Director of Campus Sustainability, UC Santa Barbara. “Through our research, we hope to better understand the needs, barriers to access, and opportunities to serve the distinct communities within AA and NHPI communities.”

3. Community Partnerships in Creating the NHPI Health Equity Index

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Ninez Ponce, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
  • Description: This project seeks to address the gap in data for NHPI communities through the construction of a new multidimensional measure, the NHPI Health Equity Index that may better indicate the need of the NHPI population. The project will collaborate with community partners to detect catastrophic and cumulative health risks for NHPI communities that would otherwise be missed by existing health indices.
  • Quote from the team: “Data plays a key role in various federal funding formulas and grantmaking by prioritizing resources as well as informing program development. Some decision-making metrics are also operationalized in a way that reduces the detection of social needs in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. The NHPI Data Policy Lab at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research will work with community partners to develop an NHPI Health Equity Index to understand the role of the social determinants of health — the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age — on health outcomes,” said Ninez A. Ponce, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and co-founder of the NHPI Data Policy Lab. “We are grateful to AAPI Data and the California State Legislature for their support of this important work.”

4. Statewide Behavioral Surveillance on Asian Californians’ Experiences of Violence and Discrimination and Their Impacts on Mental Health

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Anita Raj, UC San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health
  • Description: This project will conduct a community-based participatory research study involving a survey with a statewide sample of Asian Californians to understand their experiences with racial/ethnic discrimination and violence using an intersectional lens. We will assess the prevalence of these concerns and their effects on mental and financial distress, and we will examine the role of social support and welfare protections in attenuating the adverse effects of discrimination and violence against Asian populations in California. We will use these findings to advance our understanding of the unique needs of Asian Californians and support evidence-based policies to improve racial/ethnic equity and health in our state.
  • Quote from the team: “The needs for AAPI communities in California are neither sufficiently understood nor sufficiently addressed,” said Anita Raj, Director of the UC San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health. “We hope our work can support data-driven policy solutions to address the increases in hate crimes and gun violence we have seen in our AAPI communities since the start of the pandemic.”

5. Health and Well-being of Filipino American Workers in California

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Cindy Sangalang, UCLA Departments of Social Welfare and Asian American Studies, Luskin School of Public Affairs
  • Description: This project will conduct a mixed-methods analysis of data from the Work and Wellness among Filipino Americans during the COVID-19 Study. The proposed analysis is intended to answer the following questions:
    1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the sources of stress that Filipino American essential and low-wage workers experience at work, with family, and in their community?
    2. How have pandemic-related stressors affected the physical, economic, and social well-being of Filipino American workers? Which subgroups are particularly at risk (e.g. based on gender, age, nativity, occupation/industry)?
    3. What are specific policy and programmatic recommendations to address physical, economic, and social well-being for Filipino American workers?
  • Quote from the team: “Our study on the health and well-being of Filipino American workers in the aftermath of the pandemic (co-led by Filipino Migrant Center), responds to the call for greater disaggregated data among Asian American populations. We hope to identify and address health needs and other challenges often ignored or left unmet when such diverse groups are treated as a monolith. Funding from AAPI Data will help to ensure that our study findings directly inform policy proposals to improve the health, work environments, and community conditions for Filipino Americans and other communities deeply affected by current and future health crises.” said Cindy Sangalang, Assistant Professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

6. Addressing Priority Data and Policy Gaps for LGBTQ+ Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders in California

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Andrew Subica, UC Riverside Department of Social Medicine, Population, and Public Health
  • Description: The objective of this quantitative survey study is to obtain critical first-of-its-kind data regarding the health, mental health, minority stress, and hate/discrimination experiences of LGBTQ+ NH/PI adults in California; an extremely vulnerable but unstudied population that our pilot work has shown experience profound levels of poor health, depression, anxiety, substance use, and high treatment need in the U.S. To conduct this study, we will employ a community-based participatory research approach in which the Team will collaborate with our community partner, UTOPIA, to conduct surveys of 250 LGBTQ+ NH/PI adults in California. This will lead to targeted data to support the development of culturally responsive policy recommendations—as selected and shaped by our NH/PI partners and experts—and high-impact scientific papers regarding LGBTQ+ health.
  • Quote from the team: “LGBTQ+ Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders living in California are a culturally significant but understudied AANHPI community that our earlier pilot work suggests may endure high rates of mental health difficulties, substance use, and health problems,” said Andrew Subica, Associate Professor, UC Riverside Department of Social Medicine, Population, and Public Health. “Partnering with the United Territories of Pacific Islander Alliance (UTOPIA) and Dr. Raynald Samoa at the City of Hope, we are excited to conduct this community-based study to gather novel data on the behavioral and physical health needs of LGBTQ+ NH/PIs in California to inform policy briefs and decision-making for this underdiscussed community.” 

7. Double Jeopardy: Experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment and Anti-Asian Racism Among University of California Students from AANHPI Communities

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Wagman, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences
  • Description: To address the data gaps around the intersecting problems of sexual violence and sexual harassment (SVSH) and anti-Asian racism, the project proposes to build on the “Double Jeopardy” Study to expand social science research and data and increase policy capacity for AA and NHPI communities by assessing experiences of COVID-related SVSH and anti-Asian racism among AANHPI students from the University of California (UC) the world’s leading public research university system. The Double Jeopardy Study was launched in 2021, as a pilot project in response to increased anti-Asian racism and SVSH among students at institutions of higher education (IHE) in the U.S. For the current application, additional research will be conducted within 9 months that will build on the well-established pilot platform, using mixed methods research (including survey data collection, qualitative interviews, and participatory-action photovoice research), a focused scoping review of findings from similar datasets from UC populations and national IHEs, and community engagement.
  • Quote from the team: “We have seen a rise in both discrimination against and mental health struggles among the Asian community on college and university campuses. Our study aims to understand how gender-based discrimination and sexual violence fit into this context, among the lives of Asian International and American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students across the University of California system. Importantly, I co-lead this study with two UCLA pre-doctoral scholars – Eunhee Park and Jianchao Lai – who are seeing these issues, first hand, among their friends and through preliminary research they launched at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jennifer Wagman, Associate Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences.

8. California Nail Salon Industry: Profile and Needs

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center
  • Description: The UCLA Labor Center will work with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and Professor Preeti Sharma of California State University, Long Beach to conduct an in-depth study of the nail salon industry in California. Limited research exists on the experiences and challenges faced by low-wage, Asian immigrant and refugee women workers, particularly labor conditions in nail salons at this pandemic stage. This project will provide an important perspective on the workforce in the personal care industry. We will explore the nail salon sector through robust, mixed methods research that will include 1) a profile of workers and the industry through government data sources, 2) an analysis of policy opportunities and labor practices that can lead to the economic well-being, training, and career mobility of nail salon workers, and 3) focus groups with workers and employers to explore labor issues such as wage violations and pay structure and identify priorities for addressing these issues through policy and organizing efforts.
  • Quote from the team: “Our team is grateful and energized by the support of the AAPI Data project, which will support our research and collaboration with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative to understand and strategize solutions that can lift up the labor standards for this workforce,” said Saba Waheed, Research Director at the UCLA Labor Center.