Healthfirst Supports the Hope Against Hate Campaign to Safeguard Asian-American New Yorkers

May 18, 2021

A donation will help the efforts of the Asian American Federation (AAF) to respond to and  stop attacks on vulnerable Asian New Yorkers


NEW YORK, NY, May 18, 2021 – Healthfirst, the largest not-for-profit health insurer* in New York State, is committed to serving its diverse membership and members’ communities through the work it does every day. With the surge in anti-Asian violence in New York City, the company, through its foundation, will support the Hope Against Hate campaign developed by the Asian American Federation (AAF) to help fight the attacks in local communities and bring safety back to the Asian American community in New York.

Anti-Asian violence during COVID-19 has surged exponentially. Nationally, there were 3,800 reports of anti-Asian incidents from March 2020 to February 2021.[1] New York City has tracked an estimated 1,100 incidents, and underreporting[2] makes that likely to be only a tenth of the real figure.

“It is a very difficult time for the Asian American community, which is being subjected to a renewed wave of hate speech and hate crimes that are particularly targeted at elderly and vulnerable people,” said Pat Wang, President and Chief Executive Officer at Healthfirst. “The Asian American Federation’s Hope Against Hate campaign is an important initiative that we are proud to support because it will help ensure that Asian New Yorkers feel safer in their communities and that victims of assault receive the help they need.”

Funding supplied by Healthfirst’s foundation will help to support key components of the Hope Against Hate campaign, including:

  • Centralized reporting, including an in-language reporting tool to connect victims to the services they need
  • Establishing a safety ambassador program that trains volunteers in de-escalation, self-defense, and mental health first aid, and that provides an escort for vulnerable community members when needed, in partnership with Asian and other community-based organizations
  • Creating safe zones in communities throughout NYC at houses of worship and other locations which will display an identifiable poster; staff will be trained to connect to needed services
  • Setting up in-language victim support services such as an assistance fund for victims for assault-related expenses and culturally competent mental health support
  • Provide Upstander, verbal de-escalation and physical self-defense training in multiple languages

Jo-Ann Yoo, the executive director of the Asian American Federation, said, “We are incredibly grateful to receive support from Healthfirst in our fight to ensure safety for all New Yorkers. Our Hope Against Hate campaign aims to end the cycle of horrific attack after horrific attack on the Asian community by taking concrete steps to centralize reporting, create safe zones in our communities to promote a culture of neighborly care, and provide training in de-escalating threatening situations. Because of Healthfirst’s investment in our future, AAF can make sure Asian Americans—doctors and nurses, teachers and small-business owners, grocery workers and food delivery people—all feel safe in the city they call home.”


About the Hope Against Hate Campaign

For the past year, the Asian American Federation has been at the forefront of empowering Asian communities against violent anti-Asian attacks. Between February 2020 and February 2021 there were more than 1,100 attacks on Asian New Yorkers, leaving seniors terrified to leave their homes, and 70% of families deciding to not send their kids back to school. In response to the terrible trauma of the Atlanta killings and the continuing racist violence, AAF launched the Hope Against Hate campaign to bring immediate safety to Asian New Yorkers. The campaign is raising funds to deploy safety ambassadors, establish neighborhood safe zones, develop an app to report incidents, and provide mental health and victim support services in multiple languages.


About the Asian American Federation  

Established in 1989, the Asian American Federation (AAF) is one of the strongest leadership voices advocating for better policies, services, and funding that lead to more justice and opportunity for Asian immigrants, one of New York City’s poorest and most underserved communities. AAF’s mission is to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness, and nonprofit support. In partnership with 70 pan-Asian member and partner organizations, AAF represents the collective interests of 1.3 million Asian New Yorkers. Through its advocacy and programs, AAF ensures that the pan-Asian community remains visible, their needs are addressed, their contributions are valued, and their stories are told.

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[1] Stop AAPI Hate

[2] NYPD

*Based on reported revenue for calendar year 2020.