AAPI Report

Iowa Department of Human Rights is pleased to release the first comprehensive report on the Asian and Pacific Islanders in Iowa.  This report takes a closer look at the rapidly growing AAPI population in the state.  Find the report in the Resources section.

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Office of Asian and Pacific Islanders

What We Do

The Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs:

  • Advocates for Iowans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage
  • Serves the needs of Iowans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage in participating fully in the economic, social and cultural life of the state by coordinating the efforts of other state departments and providing assistance
  • Assists, develops and coordinates other public or private organizations which serve Iowans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage
  • Informs Iowans about programs and agencies operating to assist people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage

The Office works closely with the Commission of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.  


The Iowa Department of Human Rights was created in 1986 as an umbrella agency. Its mission is to ensure basic rights, freedoms, and opportunities for all by empowering underrepresented Iowans and eliminating economic, social, and cultural barriers.

On October 5, 2004, Governor Thomas Vilsack announced appointments to the Commission on the Status of Asian and Pacific Islanders (now the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs) within the Department of Human Rights. The commission was created by Senate File 2188, which Governor Vilsack signed into law on March 31, 2004.

Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Priorities 2016-2017

Please click on the link to find more about the priorities for 2016-2017 API Priorities 2016-17

1. Civic Engagement

The AAPI electorate is growing rapidly both nationally and in Iowa.  Iowa’s Asian population experienced a 49.6% increase from 2000 to 2010, and more recently from 2000 to 2013 Iowa’s Asian population saw a 72.8% increase. Despite growing numbers of the Asian American electorate, significant gaps in citizenship and voter registration for Asian Americans continue to exist.  AAPI’s have also been historically underrepresented in elected office and other government positions.  To improve civic participation from Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the office has the following goals:

· Voter Education—Ensuring all  AAPI’s including newly naturalized people to learn about their new rights as a voter.

Check out some educational materials developed by our office and help distribute within your communities.

Voting in Iowa 101






Webinar with the Secretary of State

· Voter registration—Help more API’s to be registered to vote.

· Develop Civic Leaders through leadership training opportunities; encourage more AAPI’s to be on different boards, commissions and elected office.

2. Youth Engagement 

Engagement with API youths is key to ensure that they get a good start, exposure, learning and leadership opportunities, so they can become better students, community members and future leaders.  API youths, particularly those who are new immigrants and refugees, would benefit highly from targeted outreach and leadership programs.

The Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs will focus on the following youth engagement programs:

· API Youth leadership summit for high school and university level youths

· API youth mentorship for young professionals

· More engagement of API youths in the Civic Engagement initiative

3. Language Access

Communication and language are top barriers for APIs in being able to access government programs navigate the new system in which they live, and fully contribute to the economic and civic development of their new home.  The ability to understand and communicate in English has a significant impact on a new American’s ability to find a job, advance in a career and become civically active in his or her community.

To enhance language access, the Office is:

  • Engaging relevant organizations and communities in discussions about language access issues to provide education and spur action
  • Sharing best practices
  • Improving interpreter resources and the quality of interpreters in the State of Iowa

Please contact us for more information.