Our Southeast Asian Community



Southeast Asians (SEA) - specifically Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians and Vietnamese - are among the most economically disadvantaged and struggle from long-term poverty, language and literary issues, and post-traumatic stress disorders associated with their forced migration to the United States. SEA students also experience poverty, cultural tensions, and language barriers which hinder their educational and academic success.  Moreover, the real educational experiences of our Southeast Asian youth are often overshadowed by the aggregated educational attainment data.  

ARISE's work is to respond to the needs of our SEA community and to support and advocate for educational success for all SEA youth. To learn more about ARISE's "Three Reasons for Action" and the needs of our SEA community, explore our Fact Sheet.   


The educational needs of many Southeast Asian American (SEAA) students are often overlooked because of the “model minority myth” – a misconception that all Asian Americans excel academically and face no obstacles. This misconception overshadows the dire needs of individual Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) ethnic groups and further hinders any actions that should be taken to address these disparities.         
     -Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC)

Although an impressive number of Americans whose ancestors are from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam ("Southeast Asian Americans") have achieved tremendous success in education, a disproportionate number have found it difficult to succeed academically. Yet their difficulties are largely invisible to policymakers, who tend to look only to the aggregate data on Asian Americans--data that suggest that, as one large undifferentiated group, Asian Americans are doing quite well. They are considered to be doing so well, in fact, that they are called the "model minority." For example, in 2000, 25.2% of Asian Americans aged 25 and over held bachelor's degrees or higher, compared with 15.5% of Americans overall. In contrast, among the various Southeast Asian American groups, the percentage with bachelor's degrees ranged from 5.9% to 14.8%--proportions that more closely resemble those of African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, than those of Asian Americans in aggregate.    
     -The Future of Children, Princeton-Brookings