New Report Highlights Barriers and Opportunities for Colorado’s AANHPI Communities

May 8, 2024 — The Colorado AAPI Circle, in partnership with the Colorado Health Institute, on Wednesday released the findings of a groundbreaking new report that highlights Colorado’s Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. 

The Colorado Lotus Project is a first-of-its-kind effort to elevate the unique voices and experiences of the many different AANHPI people in the state. The report uses novel analysis methods to break apart larger data sources to highlight distinctions and nuances within Colorado’s AANHPI community. It incorporates interviews and storytelling to highlight the diverse experiences of AANHPI Coloradans and provides important calls to action.

Colorado Lotus Project report cover

“For too long, Colorado’s AANHPI community has been viewed as a monolith,” said Jin Tsuchiya, Co-Chair of the Colorado AAPI Circle. “A lack of nuanced data and dangerous stereotypes are masking inequities and hiding critical differences in the health and social needs of these unique groups.”
The umbrella term “AANHPI” encompasses more than 50 distinct ethnic groups. It includes people who speak more than 100 different languages and represents 75 countries across East, Southeast, and South Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

The report shows that while broad statistics describing Asian Americans’ social, economic, and health status often show them doing very well, breaking down the data reveals significant needs. For example, while the percentage of Asian Coloradans living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (21.1%) is lower than the state average (23.8%), it is twice as high for Burmese (52.3%) and Bangladeshi (48.9%) Coloradans. Similarly, while Asians as a group are less likely to report poor mental health (8.2%) than the state average (12.4%), Korean Americans (22.2%) report higher rates of poor mental health.
These data can highlight where and how Colorado policymakers can target policy improvements to help those most in need.

“While the Lotus Project highlights needs and opportunities within the AANHPI community, it also shows incredible strengths and resilience,” said Kristi Keolakai, Co-Chair of the AAPI Circle. “We’re especially proud of the profiles and stories in the report that illuminate the lived experience of AANHPI people in Colorado.”

The report includes specific calls to action for policymakers, service providers, advocates, philanthropies, and community partners. They include:

  • Improve data about AANHPI communities
  • Promote meaningful representation and create belonging
  • Authentically engage and build trust with AANHPI communities
  • Address language and cultural barriers
  • Increase funding for AANHPI communities most in need

The report delves into key issues affecting the lives of AANHPI people in Colorado, including philanthropic support, demographics, education, health, housing, crime and justice, democracy, and income and economic opportunity. It includes quotes and stories based on interviews, focus groups, and an online idea exchange.

“The Lotus Project marks a significant step in efforts to better understand the strengths and needs of AANHPI Coloradans,” said Kimberly Phu, Research and Analysis Manager at the Colorado Health Institute. “Through data and stories, we hope to spark conversations and highlight the diversity and contributions of Colorado’s AANHPI community.”

The full report, fact sheets, and other materials are available at

Contact: Kristi Arellano, Colorado Health Institute


About the Colorado AAPI Circle

The Colorado Asian American and Pacific Islander Circle was founded in late 2021. Our vision is authentic, visible, and interconnected Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi communities. We do this by elevating our many communities and increasing resources, lifting voices, and growing our civic engagement. The Circle connects individuals who donate their money to pooled funds shared with other donors. We decide together which nonprofit organizations or community projects to support. Through the process, donors build strong connections and increase their engagement in the community.

About the Colorado Health Institute

The Colorado Health Institute is a nonprofit, mission-driven public health institute advancing equity and well-being in our communities through deep expertise and implementational know-how. We simplify the complex, provide context, and advance policies that make a difference. CHI’s team of analysts, program managers, data managers, and directors led the research, data disaggregation, focus groups, key informant interviews, project coordination, and development of the Colorado Lotus Project report.