Our Partners

Asian Media Access

"Connecting the Dots to Connect the Disconnected"

What does it mean to "connect the disconnected"? For Asian Media Access (AMA) media education, media advocacy, and information technology are key approaches. The lens of AMA's media work not only ensures greater access to marginalized communities, but goes one step further to encourage individuals to actively engage; to have knowledge of and ownership over a wider variety of media forms in order to impact how media is created, shared and understood by a wider audience.

With a mission of "Connecting the Disconnected", Asian Media Access (AMA) adopts a comprehensive and creative approach to media; incorporating education, advocacy, and community organizing into their media work. Born of a community effort to address the limited Asian American programming on television and to decrease prejudice and bias surrounding the AAPI community, AMA works to promote the use of the media and information technology as an educational and communicative tool, to present AAPI issues and perspectives in the mainstream media, to empower AAPI youth with leadership and media production skills, and to support the AAPI community with equal access to information and services.  Asian Media Access

Because of its design and financial structure, mainstream media often remains inaccessible to a large number of people, especially minorities. In response, AMA strives to find innovative ways of increasing these communities' participation in the media and break down barriers. However, the organization's philosophy reaches beyond simply providing greater access to media, instead exploring ways to harness media forms to promote civic engagement and enrich cultural life. Examples of AMA's efforts include their "East Meets West" cable series, youth workshops and camps, and Asian film festivals. The organization also houses "What About Us", a pan-Asian teen girls' group that learns skills in various forms of media, then uses these forms to educate peers and community about issues such as gender inequality, sexual violence and teen pregnancy. Though such sensitive issues can be treated as taboos in community, AMA is fortified by the belief that democratization of media access is necessary to increase tolerance and understanding among ethnic groups.

As Asian Media Access embarked on their community engagement (CE) process with the National Gender & Equity Campaign, organizational leaders were recognizing the difficulty of integrating their many programs, since each operates separately and is funded from separate sources. Thus, they decided to focus their CE process on the organization's internal decision making, communication, and leadership, both in terms of structure and of process. AMA's intention was to define their structure and process to better support community issues with integrated, synchronized, and sustained approaches that would improve systemic barriers for AAPIs, what they named their evolving "transformational agenda" for both philosophical and organizational level improvement.

Through their dialogues, AMA recognized the power of personal stories of youth and families who are impacted by the organization's work. Leaders also learned the challenge of engaging and retaining talented individuals who can bring experience into AAPI nonprofits. Rather than a sole focus on becoming a large media institution and trying to meet all of the community's needs, AMA began to articulate the importance of its personal impacts and responsive approach, pointing to a new model of work; collective and fluid decision making that is more reflective of cultural practices and norms and that is more comprehensive.

All in all, the community engagement process allowed Asian Media Access to distill how to truly make a difference in the community: positive qualitative change to improve community relations and to reduce information technology illiteracy. And that makes all the difference.

"[AMA] works with kids who want to be something but who've never had the people who believe in them." -Observer of AMA's youth programming