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Advancing Justice | Chicago’s research team works to generate the analysis about the constituencies we serve, including Asian American high school students, college students, small business owners, working families, refugees, Asian serving nonprofits, and more, with the goal to inform legislators and decision makers in formation of improved policy.

Read on to learn more about our ongoing research projects, and published reports

Midwest Asian American Research Collaboratory (MAARC)
By Denitsa.marinova - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Denitsa.marinova - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

collaboratory is an inclusive learning environment where action learning and action research meet. It involves the active collaboration of a diversified group of participants that bring in different perspectives on a given issue or topic. In such a space, learning and research is organized around issues rather than disciplines or theory. 

The Midwest Asian American and Pacific Islander Research Collaboratory is an effort of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to convene Midwest-based academic faculty, researchers, and students to encourage inclusion of AAPI communities in current and future research in a range of disciplines to drive policy change in the region. The Collaboratory held its initial meeting at the Asian American Leadership Forum in February, 2016.

Collaboratory participants hail from Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, and Loyola University, with more to come.

A list of Asian American researchers in the Midwest can be found here (list in progress)

Collaboratory participants include Shikha Bista (MSU), Terese Guinsatao Monberg (MSU), Fred Leong (MSU), Angela Ebreo (Michigan), Rooshey Hasnain (UIC), Jeslyn Koovakada (UIC), Karen Su (UIC), Sunny Seto (UIC), Heather Aguilar (UIC), Laura Kina (DePaul), Camilla Fojas (DePaul), Kris Ma (DePaul), Anne Saw (DePaul), OiYan Poon (Loyola), Caleb Kim (Loyola), George Villanueva (Loyola)
Collaboratory participants include Shikha Bista (MSU), Terese Guinsatao Monberg (MSU), Fred Leong (MSU), Angela Ebreo (Michigan), Rooshey Hasnain (UIC), Jeslyn Koovakada (UIC), Karen Su (UIC), Sunny Seto (UIC), Heather Aguilar (UIC), Laura Kina (DePaul), Camilla Fojas (DePaul), Kris Ma (DePaul), Anne Saw (DePaul), OiYan Poon (Loyola), Caleb Kim (Loyola), George Villanueva (Loyola)

Current projects and areas of interest include:

  • Literature review of current Midwest-focused Asian American research
  • Midwest Asian American attitudes towards affirmative action
  • Health disparities in Burmese refugees in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Language accessibility in public services (public benefits, schools, utilities) in Illinois
  • Automatic Voter Registration in Illinois

See below for more on current, ongoing research projects in Illinois. To learn more about the Midwest Asian American Research Collaboratory or to get involved, contact Brandon Lee, Communications and Research Coordinator at

Asian Americans and Higher Education in Illinois and Michigan

higher-edThis project explores the relationship between Asian Americans and the politics and policies of higher education access in Illinois. The project includes two parts:

  1. Asian American perspectives on affirmative action: how Asian Americans’ immigration narratives inform their stance in support of, or in opposition to, affirmative action policy.
  2. Demographic shifts, access, and state funding for higher education in Illinois and Michigan: this project will seek to uncover patterns over time in state funding for public higher education and the correlations between funding and demographic shifts in Illinois and Michigan.

Chinatown Anti-Displacement Community Research Project

chinatown-3-960x600The Greater Chinatown area in Chinatown is rapidly changing because of recent public and private investments. The area is attracting great interest by developers because of its proximity to downtown Chicago, public transit rail stops, and its vibrant ethnic culture. At the same time, community advocates, policymakers, and scholars have pointed to threats of displacement and gentrification that can affect existing communities in lower-income and ethnic neighborhoods targeted for revitalization.

In light of the development and neighborhood transformation of Greater Chinatown, this project seeks to:

  1. Take a proactive and community-based research approach to potential negative threats of neighborhood displacement and gentrification
  2. Catalyze broader community capacity within the Greater Chinatown community’s collective efforts to create livable and healthy communities based on existing community values.

Refugees greatly rely on welfare for survival, especially during the early years of their arrival. This study assesses the effectiveness of Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in the Burmese refugee community in Battle Creek, Michigan. Through this project we seek to:

  1. Understand how Burmese refugees learn about WIC and receive information within the community,
  2. See how Burmese refugees use WIC in their daily lives, and how WIC affects their health outcomes,
  3. Learn the challenges they face when using their benefits, and
  4. Determine how policy can be updated to improve the effectiveness of the program.


Advancing Justice | Chicago will provide funding for an in­-depth literature review of all articles, reports and books that have been published for at least the last 20 years on APAs based in the Midwest.

We seek scholars from the fields of sociology, political science, public policy (health, education, urban planning) or related social science disciplines who are interested in performing an in­depth review of the literature from all of these major fields.

Download the full RFP here, and contact Brandon Lee at with any questions.


Cutting Lifelines: The Impact Of Governor Rauner’s Proposed FY2016 Budget Cuts On The Asian American Community (2015)

Cutting Lifelines: The Impact of Governor Rauner’s Proposed FY2016 Budget Cuts on the Asian American Community (2015)

The Color Of Representation: Local Government In Illinois (2015)

The Color of Representation: Local Government in Illinois (2015)

New Data Concerning Population, Poverty, Civic Engagement, And More, Focusing On Metro Areas In The Midwest Region.

Community of Contrasts: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Midwest (2012)

Voices Of Democracy: Asian Americans And Language Access During The 2012 Elections (2012)

Voices of Democracy: Asian Americans and Language Access During the 2012 Elections (2012)

South Asian Americans In Illinois: Making Data Count (2013)

South Asian Americans in Illinois: Making Data Count (2013)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) partnership

Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that a disproportionate number of Asian American workers suffer fatal occupational injuries, and this in particular affects foreign-born Asian Americans:

  • Of the 775 Asian American workers who died as a result of an injury incurred while on the job from 1999-2003, the majority (640) were foreign born rather than native born (135)
  • The leading cause of death for Asian American workers was an assault or violent act, accounting for over 50% of fatal workplace injuries, with 46% of the fatalities for Asian workers being homicides
  • Asian American workers in retail trade were over four times more likely to be fatally injured on the job in comparison to non-Asians, and foreign-born Asian Americans were particularly at risk, with 68% of all homicides to foreign-born Asian workers occurring in the retail industry
  • Shootings accounted for 80% of workplace homicides for Asian Americans, and a robber was the assailant in 61% of these homicides.  South Asian, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese foreign-born workers are especially at risk for occupational fatalities

In partnership with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Advancing Justice | Chicago assesses current violence prevention practices being used in Asian American retail establishments, and identifies cultural and other barriers to adopting recommendations for preventing workplace violence for foreign-born and native-born Asian Americans.

From this, culturally-competent materials (possibly including posters, flyers, websites, social media, or other communication outlets) on management practices to reduce workplace violence to employees will be tailored specifically for Asian American retail business owners and managers for training their employees, and these products will be disseminated through community partners as well as retail business and trade organizations and chambers of commerce.

For more information on our partnership with NIOSH, contact Bryan Hara at

Critical Mixed Race Studies Association

Advancing Justice | Chicago is now the fiscal sponsor of the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association. For more information on the Association, and to register for their conference coming up February 24-26, 2017 at the University of Southern California, visit the Critical Mixed Race Studies Association website.

Midwest & National Resource Listing

Here are some resources that contain information on the Asian American community. While we do list some national level resources here, our priority is information on Asian Americans in the Midwest.

Midwest resources

National resources

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