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From our Members, Staff and Board we wish you love, light and courage to fight for justice in this new year!

"Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and abusive.  Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Struggle is a never ending process.   
Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation."
-  Coretta Scott King
Leading with Love: 20 Years and Beyond!
Reflections From Our Members
Staff Spotlight
Leadership & Organizing Highlights
KGA in the News
I t all started by the trunk of a staff member's car.  Khmer young women gathered to learn about their community's history. These high school students, daughters of refugee survivors, yearned for a safe space to access resources to support themselves and their families.  
Since our humble beginnings in 1997, KGA members and their families' stories have inspired our work.  L ike a lotus, determined to grow through thick mud as it reaches for light, in the midst of resettling in inequity and in the struggle for justice blossomed a movement.   
Photo taken in 2003- founding member now current Associate Director Sophya Chhiv (middle) providing resources for families impacted by deportation. 
For twenty years KGA has invested in the development of Southeast Asian youth to lead, heal and build collective power through organizing our communities to fight for institutional and systemic change!    We have trained over 800 Southeast Asian youth who, through our leadership pipeline, have  sharpened their political analysis and applied their knowledge in various campaigns focused on reproductive justice, positive school climate, health and language access, civic engagement, immigrant refugee rights and equitable budgeting.  Additionally, we have broadened our reach through  school- based clubs, parent engagement activities, and continue to sustain strong leaders who graduated our program through our alumni network.

This year we have engaged over 6,000 registered voters in Long Beach who are ready to take back the vote and who strongly support positive youth development and budget equity.  In 6 months  we collected over 900 surveys and connected with local residents to help shape the demands of  Invest in Youth, our newest campaign with Building Healthy Communities Long Beach Youth Workgroup and Youth Committee.

"If our community had access to more support services, my brother might still be here in the U.S. celebrating the holidays with us," says KGA Alumn, Alisha, who shared her story this past December at Not Home for the Holidays, the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative's forum on deportation and the state of Cambodian American Families in Long Beach.

Together Alisha and her 2 sisters have organized for a school-based wellness center with teen- only hours, protected teen access to confidential reproductive healthcare, secured local living wages, led strongly in the 2010 Census and numerous GOTV efforts, passed Prop. 47 and have continued to fight  to end detainment and deportation in hopes to bring their brother and so many of their community members back home where they belong!

KGA youth leaders at Not Home for the Holidays  community forum.

Youth leader Jocelyn, shared publicly for the first time, the story of how her aunt's arrest and possible detainment caused her aunt to be separated from her family, children, and 10- month old baby.   To the 150 attendees including elected officials present at the  forum, she explained that upon resettling in already impoverished neighborhoods, " Southeast Asian refugee communities became even more vulnerable to poverty, crime, violence, racism, discrimination, over- policing and incarceration rates-higher than any other Asian ethnic group in relation to the size of the Cambodian population."

Like Alisha's brother and Jocelyn's aunt, many 1.5 generation refugee immigrants who arrived as children did not get the opportunities to heal and thrive.  Instead, many faced double- punishment when they were detained, deported, or served final orders for deportation even after they have served their time, further harming our community and loved ones we care so much about. 

Jocelyn, who later shared how much her mother, her aunt's twin, wished she had an organization like KGA growing up exclaimed, "We turn to our families for love and support.  Without our family, we have no history and without our history we lose a part of our identity.  Keeping families together means keeping our families safe and strong.  It makes Long Beach a place of love and empowerment!"   
This year and for generations to come we are deeply committed to lead with values of love so that  together we can win a safe and just world free of oppression for all! 
The Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative is comprised of Cambodian Association of America, Khmer Parent Association, Families in Good Health, United Cambodian Community and Khmer Girls in Action. 

KGA youth organizers Serena, Nikki, Audrey and Adrian attend Free Our Dreams.

"Through KGA I've become more educated about my community.  I've learned how important our history is.  And, I really value the trainings on our reproductive health.  Being a Khmer woman who knows our rights and options on our reproductive health is empowering!  My world is a lot bigger that what I thought it was before.   KGA has taught me to be vulnerable and that it's okay for me to share things that other people have a hard time talking about.  This was how I was able to make more connections with people outside of my Cambodian community who face similar struggles.  KGA has encouraged me to lead and I have been active in Building Healthy Communities Long Beach Youth Committee and on the YO! Cali (Youth Organizing California) Steering Committee where youth from different communities talk with legislatures on policies that make our future better such as free health care and ending punishment for willful defiance.  I've seen some legislators take time to listen and I've learned that having adult allies are important.   I'm grateful for the opportunities and I hope that all young people have the chance to do great things and be part of making a difference in our community!  - Audrey, leader of KGA's Youth Organizing Long Beach Program.

Mareya and other KGA  leaders served as ambassadors for the I Am Possible  campaign along  with youth across the region advocating for investments in positive youth development."  Visit 

"When I joined KGA, I learned that I could relate to other girls who are understanding and come from similar backgrounds as I do.  There is a high population of Cambodians in Long Beach who came to America as refugees.  KGA allows us to learn about our history and bond as a family.  Without my KGA mentors, I would have taken a very different path.  When I was dealing with my grandma's death, my grades dropped and I was losing friends because I wasn't able to communicate what I was going through.  I'm thankful to have had support and active guidance from KGA staff and members.  I'm gald they believed in me and my future." 
- Mareya, leader of KGA's Khmer Justice Program & Youth Ambassador for  I Am Possible.

Investing in youth builds long- term leadership and brings resources to improve the conditions in our communities.  KGA is proud to spotlight four of our former KGA youth members who have grown in their leadership as organizers and now serve as staff!  
Sophya Chhiv, Associate Director,
KGA Founding Member and Alumn '02
"KGA's dedication to developing the leadership of young Southeast Asian women has been the key to creating social change.  Learning about my community, my people and the issues we faced moved me to step into my power and fight for social justice!  In my new role as associate director, my commitment is to support, love and build with communities impacted by institutional and systemic oppression so that we are empowered to be resilient and rise up!
Amy Horn, Junior Organizer & KGA Alumn '07
"KGA has invested in me by providing the training and space I needed as a young person to overcome inter-generational trauma, to understand the struggle our community experiences and to be politicized to take action.   Resettlement was hard for my family and sharing the space with other Khmer and Southeast Asians was powerful because we learned about ways to break the cycle of trauma and poverty.  As a youth, KGA gave me the opportunity to talk to elected officials about my story and as an adult, KGA has supported me to lead KGA alumni to continue organizing our community in their journey towards adulthood.  This has given me the ability to gain self- love, public speaking skills and most importantly believing in myself!"
Jennefer Heng, Amy Horn and Chrissy Sam at
KGA's Feast of Resistance.
Jennefer Heng, Program Coordinator & KGA Alumn '08
"In this political moment, it's important for SEA women to organize because we do not have the privilege to stand neutral in the face of hatred and violent attacks on our communities. We use the weight and struggles of our ancestors to ground us in love and tenderness.  We lead forward in our commitment to liberation, and we fight with rigor to move, uplift, and heal generations!"
Chrissy Sam,  
Office Administrator  
& KGA Alumn '14
"KGA helped transform me into a leader.  I was able to build my political analysis of issues surrounding me.  KGA invested in me as a youth and and I have gained the skills and experience needed to lead and organize my community.  KGA has continued to believe in my leadership by hiring me as staff while continuing higher education.  I want to return what KGA has given me by creating a safe space that encourages our youth to grow their power and to create the community they want, an experience and opportunity I had when I was a youth leader." 
Staff and members celebrate together after completing the Summer Organizing Institute (SOI).

Programs & Campaigns

In the span of 6 months, Long Beach residents completed over 900 Invest in Youth surveys! Through the teamwork and leadership of KGA youth organizers, alumni, Building Healthy Communities Long Beach Youth Committee, Youth Work Group and volunteers we exceeded our goal!  
Our team led canvassing efforts in 6 out of the 9 city council districts and coordinated  a total of 10 canvassing events, including our 4th Annual Fun House of Horrors which provided edutainment on budget equity.  Results from the survey will inform the demands of our newest campaign, Invest in Youth! 

♦ To close out campaign victory of Youth at the CORE, which secured a school- based wellness center with teen- only hours at Roosevelt Elementary, KGA also helped to institutionalize Wellness Week at Poly! 

Students participate in an interactive art installment during our 4th Annual Wellness Week at Poly High School.
The 4th Annual Wellness Week, themed "Lead with Love",  offered support for youth who feel unsafe in the current political climate.  Workshops included self defense for women, learning how to respond to ICE raids and helpful resources for students of color.  
While 175 students attended after school wellness workshops, 32 class room presentations informed students of what the clinic offers.  360 students toured the clinic and 54 health organizations tabled at the Friday Health Fair on campus.  With interactive art exhibits and 1,245 signed pledge cards this year's Wellness Week was a huge success!
We acknowledge Ms. Sawyer, Ms. Nguyen, ASB, MEDS Academy and the Children's Clinic for their partnership and support in keeping students' health and wellness a priority!
♦ This year, KGA invested in the leadership development of over 75 youth!  In addition to leadership and organizing trainings, KGA also coordinated Sisterhood, Brotherhood, and Rainbow Circles as well as school- based Khmer Club to build a strong community of support for our young leaders. 
♦ KGA youth participated in the I am Possible campaign where youth from various cities across the region are sharing their stories of why investing in youth development is so important!  Read their stories here. 
♦ Through our LIFE Program, all 14 students successfully graduated high school.  Currently, 10 are attending universities, 3 are attending community college and 1 will be attending a university in the upcoming year.
 KGA youth members participated in Free Our Dreams and urged leaders at our state's capitol to support SB-607- The Keep Kids in School Act to protect K- 12 students from the harmful use of Willful Defiance as a cause for suspensions and expulsions from schools.

Electoral & Civic Engagement
Surveying local residents on budget priorities on a Saturday morning.

♦ 15 KGA alumni returned as paid canvassers who were instrumental in our voter engagement outreach efforts! 
♦ We engaged over 6,000 voters through phone banking and over 200 voters through door- knocking!  Our outreach efforts varied from educating voters on Measure H to help Keep Families Safe and Together to informing them about our city's budget priorities and getting their input on our Invest in Youth campaign.
♦This past summer and fall we connected with over 200 residents through door- knocking, informing them on ways to be involved in shaping an equitable budget for all residents in our city.

♦ Our team registered 13 adults and pre-registered 51 teens who, once they turn 18, will be registered and ready to exercise their power to vote!

Community Events

As part of the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative, we co- hosted Not Home for the Holidays, a community forum on deportation and the state of Cambodian American families in Long Beach.   Attendees learned about data results from the Collaborative's latest Community Needs Assessment and signed petitions to members of Congress to help end deportations and #KeepFamiliesTogether.  
Over 150 community members including elected officials, Congressman Alan Lowethal, Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell, Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Daryl Supernaw and representatives for the offices Senator Ricardo Lara, Dianne Feinstein, Supervisor Janice Hahn were in attendance.   
♦ On Halloween night, over  200 residents attended our 4th Annual Fun House of Horrors to learn more about equitable budget practices and it's impacts on the future or our communities! Of those who attended, 130 completed our  Invest in Youth  Survey!
O ur 20th Anniversary Gala brought together 200 attendees including current KGA leaders, founding members, family and community allies who have supported our work throughout the years!  Attendees enjoyed a program of poetry, dance and music and highlights of the evening included awarding  "The Fierce Sister" to Choeun Sim, Keomoney Norn and Chhaya Choum and "Movement Builder" to Long Beach Rising!

At our 20th Anniversary Gala we recognized Long
Beach Rising with the"Movement Builder" award. 
Choeun Sim, Chhaya Choum and Keomoney Norn received "The Fierce Sister" award.

by Gabriel San Roman
Published in OC Weekly
December 12, 2017
by Michael Garcia
Published in Long Beach Post
December 12, 2017
by Sebastian Echeverry
Published in Signal Tribune
December 14, 2017
by Jenny Gov
Published in The Grunion Gazette
December 19, 2017
by Joy Yanga and Sinara Sagn
Published in Khmer Times
December 22, 2017