During May, we’re celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. In this post, read how we collaborate with local health leaders to advance oral and overall health for Washington’s AAPI populations.

Our state is home to over 1 million people who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander. Though the collective term AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) has grown in popularity, Arcora Foundation recognizes the diverse backgrounds and cultures that make up Washington’s AAPI communities.  

Our 2022–2024 strategic plan focuses our prevention and access work in communities where disparities are significant—specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The latest Washington State Smile Survey shows that while children’s oral health has improved overall, Pacific Islander children face the highest rates of untreated tooth decay among all races. In fact, Pacific Islander children experience tooth decay at rates over 2.5 times higher than their white classmates. 

Everyone deserves good oral health. Through localized partnerships, Arcora Foundation supports health equity in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. 

Local Impact Networks put communities first.

This year’s theme for AAPI Heritage Month is “Advancing Leaders through Collaboration.” Health equity advances with partnerships. It takes collaboration among organizations of all sizes and sectors. Arcora Foundation looks to local leaders to guide community-focused efforts, as these leaders understand the nuances and strengths of their communities best. 

Our Local Impact Networks (LINs) bring committed partners together to improve health equity and local systems of care. The LIN model emphasizes meeting community members where they are—including local libraries and community events—to learn about their experiences and ideas. 

Hear from two of our LIN partners to learn how they are supporting the oral and overall health of AAPI community members. 

Headshot of Dr. Anthony L-T Chen
Photo: Dr. Anthony L-T Chen
Courtesy: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Pierce County

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have enriched our history and culture. However, the diversity between AAPI communities means marked disparities and inequities in medical and dental access and outcomes in those communities. 

“For years, we have partnered with dentists and hygienists to deliver screenings and treatments in school-based programs to ensure children receive early prevention and intervention regardless of income, insurance, race, or ethnicity. Throughout the pandemic and launch of our Local Impact Network, we enlisted multiple partners including Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Korean Women’s Association, and Pacific Islander Community Association of WA to help us reach, learn from, and engage communities.”  

Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH 
Director of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
 

Photo: Betline Akeke, Community Health Worker

Spokane County

“One of the driving forces in supporting CHAS Health’s mission of providing quality healthcare and improving the overall health of the Spokane community is our team of community health workers (CHWs). For example, our Marshallese CHWs play a key role in connecting health/social services to the community, increasing access to oral and other health services. Using shared experiences, language, and cultural understanding, our CHWs offer trustworthy support and reduce barriers to care.

“By offering services such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy, CHWs lay the groundwork and encouragement for increasing access to healthcare and improving the overall health of our communities.”

CHAS Health
Smile Spokane LIN Partner

It takes all of us to advance oral health equity. Learn more about our state’s Local Impact Networks and how you can get involved here.