Open Hearts, Open Minds: An Accomplishments Report of the Pacific Island Task Force

Following the Tour and Regional Summit, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), which is housed within the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Office of Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, launched the Pacific Island Task Force to better address the unmet needs of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The Task Force comprised of 11 federal agencies that have worked to increase opportunity and access to federal programs for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

The Pacific Island Task Force Accomplishments Report details the successes and future plans of Pacific Island Task Force member agencies.

Specifically, the Task Force focused on the following goals:

  1. Engaging agency officials around the specific needs of Pacific Islanders in order to increase opportunity and access to federal programs, with a specific focus on supporting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the region.
  2. Ensuring the inclusion of the Pacific region in grant programs, where possible.
  3. Developing capacity building and technical assistance support for NGOs in the Pacific region to address specific needs.
  4. Promoting data disaggregation and generation with federal partners to include Pacific Islanders to better measure and increase opportunities and access to federal programs.

Between September 2014 and September 2015, the Task Force and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs met quarterly for one year to institute regional solutions and to continue to engage with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to understand how to improve their quality of life. For example, both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor launched initiatives to make open educational resources (OER), developed with the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) funds, available to any college that requests them. These initiatives have allowed several postsecondary institutions in the U.S. Territories and outlying areas in the Pacific Region to receive free learning materials like course outlines, case studies, and course assignments from a variety of academic disciplines, improving access to different fields of education for students.

Additionally, the Task Force created a one-stop website entitled “Resources for the Pacific Islands” to connect Pacific Island communities to federal resources, such as grants, training, and technical assistance.

The Pacific Island Task Force Accomplishment Report outlines the progress made by federal government agencies to respond to recommendations from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities on topics such as housing, veterans’ issues, economic development, education, and health equity. In addition to outlining accomplishments, the report also summarizes each agency’s ongoing goals. By embedding future efforts within agencies’ 2016-2017 strategic plans for the Initiative, federal agencies are making a commitment to remain invested in Hawaii and the Pacific region in the years ahead to ensure greater transparency and accountability for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Population of focus: Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities

Links to resource:

Date: 2016

Organization: White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders