What We Do

SEARAC was founded in 1979 to facilitate the relocation of Southeast Asian refugees into American society and to foster the development of nonprofit organizations led by and for Southeast Asian Americans. SEARAC has grown into an organization that strengthens the capacity of community-based organizations led by refugees from around the world. We serve as a coalition builder and leader among diverse refugee communities; carry out action-oriented research projects; foster civic engagement among refugees; and represent refugee communities at the national level in Washington, DC and at the state level in California.

We carry out our mission through four core strategic areas:

We carry out much of our Policy and Advocacy work through leadership in coalitions such as Refugee Council USA, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the Campaign for High School Equity, the Diverse Elders Coalition and the Hmong Health Collaborative. SEARAC monitors and disseminates information on programs, policies, and legislation of interest to Southeast Asian Americans in these and other policy areas. SEARAC's policy work is informed through on-going consultation with local community-based partners.

In our Leadership and Organizational Development work, we have grown into an organization able to strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations through leadership development, organizational development, program development, revenue development, and community engagement. The analyses and recommendations from our projects at both the national and local level have helped mainstream and local communities understand the critical role that Southeast Asian American and other ethnic community-based organizations serve.

SEARAC believes that engaging with local communities is a crucial aspect of our work. SEARAC's Community Engagement work is carried out through the various programs and policy/advocacy areas we work in. In addition to engaging local community based organizations on our policy and advocacy work, SEARAC runs several programs that directly involve community based organizations. These programs include the California Policy Engagement project, the Southeast Asian American Action and Visibility in Education (SAVE) program; the Leadership Sustainability Project, the Hmong Health Collaborative, and the Bhutanese/Burmese Capacity Building project. We collaborate with organizations all across the nation. To view a nation-wide map of our partners, go to Highlighting our Local Partners.

SEARAC’s original Research reflects the understanding that Southeast Asian Americans and their communities experience specific strengths and challenges that require special attention when it comes to policy and funding allocation.  This may seem to be self-evident, but Southeast Asian Americans have found that the “model minority myth” – which holds that all Asian Americans exceed educationally, economically, and in others ways – continues to prevent decision makers from seeing the communities clearly.