Before CBC (now CBCAC) was formed, five different organizations in Chicago’s Chinatown (Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, CASL, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chinese Christian Union Church, Pui Tak Center) came together to work on the community concern of the overly aggressive marketing and ubiquitous presence of casino buses blocking all thoroughfares in the community. By bringing the case to the Mayor and meeting with the Alderman, the coalition was able to reach agreement on regulated pick-up and marketing of the various casinos.
A voter engagement project called the “Asian American Vote 2000” was initiated by the coalition. Six Chicago service organizations (Asian American Institute (now Asian Americans Advancing Justice), Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Chinese American Service League, Chinese American Civic Council, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the Pui Tak Center) were involved. This was the very first time organizations in Chinatown conducted a voter registration drive to empower the community and advance its political rights. 30 volunteers were recruited and trained as official registrants for a successful project.
In order to advocate for a single legislative district at the city, county, state and congressional levels for the Chinese Community, four major service organizations (CASL, Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Chinese American Civic Council and Pui Tak Center) formed CBC (Coalition for a Better Chinatown). That allows CBC to solve more social problems in the future.
CBC conducted an extensive voter engagement project by engaging in voter registration, voter education and poll monitoring. In particular, a candidate forum and ballot press conference were held on March 5th and September 24th, respectively.
CBC joined with ICIRR to push the “New Citizen Voting Action Project 2004” and successfully registered more than 600 new voters. A list of new voters was handed to Congressman in order to show the growing political power among the Chinese community. CBC also worked on helping Cook County Board of Election recruit more bilingual election judges.
CBC participated in Tsunami Relief Fund Drive project and was recognized by U.S. Fund for UNICEF/Midwest Chapter.
CBC organized early voting campaigns for both the March Primary Election and the November General Election by bring busloads of Chinese American voters to the downtown Board of Elections early voting site.
The coalition expanded to include eight major service organizations in Chicago and changed its name to “Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community” (CBCAC) to more accurately reflect the geographical diversity of its member organizations. CBCAC also held its first retreat to set it Mission Statement and Guiding Principles.
CBCAC registered 1600 new voters through a partnership with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights’ (ICIRR) “New Americans Democracy Project” (NADP). CBCAC registered the most new voters among the project’s 20 partnering organizations.
CBCAC organized two town hall meetings (400 community members in June and 300 community members in December) that put forth the community agenda for a new library and field house in Chinatown. 25th Ward Alderman Daniel Solis promised to secure funding for these projects.
Through ICIRR’s NADP, CBCAC registered over 1,000 new voters in the greater Chinatown community. CBCAC organized another candidates’ forum in January 2010 which was the only joint appearance by the candidates. Additionally, through CBCAC’s 2010 Census awareness efforts, the community saw a 10% increase in the mail-in response rate.
For many years, the greater Chinatown community has been divided in numerous legislative districts. Working closely with State Sen. Kwame Raoul and Asian American Institute, CBCAC was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Voting Act of 2011. The legislation protects racial and language minority communities who are too small to be protected by the Federal Voting Right Act. During the ensuing redistricting process, 95% of the Chinese living in the greater Chinatown area were included in Illinois State Senate District #1 and Illinois House of Representative District #2.
CBCAC also helped Chinese students at Kelly High School, which serves nearly 400 Chinese immigrants and American-born Chinese youth to advocate for more Chinese-speaking faculty and staff. CBCAC helped recruit and train the first Chinese parent to be elected to Kelly’s Local School Council (LSC) in 2011.
Through ICIRR’s NADP, CBCAC registered over 1300 new voters in the greater Chinatown community.
In April, CBCAC launched the Chinatown Vision Plan project in cooperation with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Alderman Daniel Solis and other key community stakeholders. During the summer and fall, CBCAC collected input from over 1,000 community members on the Chinatown Vision Plan.
In October, the Ping Tom Park field house was dedicated.
Through ICIRR’s NADP, CBCAC registered 1005 new voters in the greater Chinatown community. Again, CBCAC registered the highest number of new voters among all participating immigrant community organizations.
In December, the Chinatown Vision Plan was presented to the community. The document will help guide CBCAC’s priorities for the future.
CBCAC held non-partisan Candidate Forum for 11st Ward election with Bridgeport Alliance, engaging over 400 people from the community. CBCAC engaged the community through an extensive Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaign for the aldermanic and mayoral races.
Chinatown Vision Plan began its implementation process after the public signing ceremony in May.
CBCAC has developed and demonstrated its own mastery of execution of complicated and sophisticated projects like:
- Helping Chinese students at Kelly High School, which serves nearly 400 Chinese immigrants and American-born Chinese youth, advocate for more Chinese-speaking faculty and staff
- Recruiting and training a Chinese parent who was elected to Kelly’s Local School Council
- Successful advocacy and monitoring of major infrastructure improvements in the community, for example, the CTA red line train entrance at Cermak.
- Organizing a candidates’ forum in January 2010 that was the only joint appearance by the candidates in that particular local Illinois house district primary
- 2010 Census awareness efforts that resulted in a 10% increase in the mail-in response rate
- Organizing parents in local schools to push for progress in getting a new library. Over 1,000 letters were written and 400 turned out for a town hall meeting at which elected officials pledged support for a library and field house
- Successful legislative advocacy including redistricting and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of Illinois 2011 (or Chinatown Bill).
- Successful voter registration campaigns that topped all other immigrant communities and increased the number of Asian American voters in Greater Chinatown neighborhood by 400%
- Successful mobilization of thousands of community residents of all ages to express their opinions and to volunteer on the community’s behalf
- Advocated for a new Chinatown Branch Library of Chicago Public Library, the first creative modern design for CPL, and also carry the function of community center.