Nonprofit organizations run by Korean-Americans in Los Angeles now reportedly have a combined annual budget that is five times larger than five years ago.
According to recently released data, Korean Health Education Information & Research (KHEIR), Koreatown Youth & Community Center (KYCC), Korean American Family Services (KFAM), Korean Resource Center (KRC) and Korean American Coalition (KAC) currently had a combined annual budget of $20 million in 2016. The same study in 2011 showed that the five organizations combined for just $11 million.
KHEIR has achieved the largest growth as its budget of $4.1 million in 2011 has now swelled by 140 percent to $9.86 million in 2016. This has been KHEIR’s biggest five-year growing curve as its budget actually decreased by 1 percent between 2001 and 2006 while growing by just 16 percent between 2006 and 2011.
In 2013, KHEIR became the first Korean-American nonprofit to be selected as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The organization expects its annual budget to exceed $10 million in 2017.
KYCC is another organization going through steady growth. Its annual budget of $6.5 million is a 48 percent increase from five years ago. KYCC plans to increase its federal funding to $1 million this year to reach an overall budget of $7.5 million.
With a staff of 100 employees and 25 health and youth programs in six different regions in Southern California, KYCC director Jong-ho Song says the organization will now place a stronger focus on improving the quality of its programs over providing higher quantity.
At KFAM, the growth rate reached 35 percent compared to 2011. KFAM posted an annual budget of $1.65 million last year after years of launching several philanthropic programs, including prevention and treatment for victims of domestic violence in 2013 and finding foster parents for adopted children in 2014. KFAM is now the first Asian-American organization in Southern California to act as a foster parenting agency.
KRC has also doubled its annual budget last year compared to the previous five-year period. Its 2011 budget of approximately $650,000 surpassed the $1 million mark for the first time last year at $1.13 million. One of KRC’s signature efforts in recent years has been its campaign to encourage more Korean-Americans to become voters.
On the contrary, KAC’s growth has stalled substantially. KAC’s 2011 budget of about $410,000 has actually regressed to just $225,000 last year. The constant leadership changes may just be one of the reasons for KAC’s slowing progress. The organization changed its director twice in the last five years.
“It’s true that we made many changes over the last five to six years as we’ve changed directors,” KAC’s current director Joon-young Bang said. “We’re going to actively seek partnerships with other foundations.”
Meanwhile, some critics are doubting the qualitative contribution of rapidly growing nonprofits in Koreatown.
“There are even less social services one can receive from Korean-American nonprofits compared to the past,” said one anonymous source. “Organizations in the past have supported underprivileged people to receive food stamps, but there is little to no one providing same services anymore. The nonprofits should focus more on contributing to the community rather than chasing after raising funds like a business.”
By Soo Yeon Oh