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Paul D.C. Huang

Similar to most Chinese overseas, my family also felt a strong tie to our home province. And so as a result of my father's successful business ventures, he established our family foundation and built hospitals, libraries and schools in Hunan as well as scholarships and research facilities at his college alma mater. Several years ago, he appointed my sister and me to manage our foundation.

Because we were both educated in the U.S. and have made this our home, we had other ideas about the potential for our family's philanthropy. Of course, we continue to honor my father's projects in China, but my sister and I also understand that as Americans, we need to do something for our community here. We began looking at many programs on Asian Americans at colleges around the country, and at community nonprofits doing good work. We learned over time that it isn't easy and that rather than responding to just good ideas or programs, we should try to look deeper at the root causes of the problems.

This is how I now define philanthropy: it's the investment in the quality of life of the community. We need more visible giving from our community and we need leadership in giving. Each of us alone has limited resources and limited impact. That is why collaborative philanthropy is so important.

In the current economic climate, government budgets are being slashed and the foundations are crying poor. Our nonprofits are especially hard pressed to raise funds to help our old people, our troubled youth, and our new immigrants. Look at Chinatown after 9/11! Our family foundation, in our small way, is responding to the call by stepping up our grants in these difficult times, hoping to step back when the economy improves. But our family cannot do it alone. We need to reach out to others in our community to step up as well. Every soapbox chance I get, I tell people about connecting our community resources to our community needs and to increase philanthropy in our community.

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