Welcome to Koreatown Empowerment Center!

Koreatown Empowerment Center is a nonprofit organization (501© 3) formed by the former leaders of Koreatown Multipurpose Senior Center in 2016. The Senior Center presented in Koreatown in Los Angeles for two decades. As a pioneer, the Center carried out historic and fruitful missions that changed the lives of low-income elderly, working families, and gradually the whole community. The Senior Center was dissolved in 2015 to extend its missions with inclusive services and empower the community nationwide.

The vision is to empower community assets for a brighter and healthier Korean American Community by promoting dignity, humanity, and security among the community nationwide. For this, Koreatown Empowerment Center has identified three major challenges hindering the future of the immigrant community. And it plans to implement community-oriented measures empowering bilingual leadership and services.

The Challenges

1. Lack of Community-Oriented Focal Points of Services

Community-oriented services address the diverse and unique needs of a community. The services are designed to meet the community’s immediate needs rather than delivering uniformed programs funded by grants. The community decides the objectives and goals. Many services are defined by missions or funds and often fail to meet the need of the community.

2. Absence of the Spirit of Professional Volunteerism

Korean American immigrants with limited language skills and resources seek alternative service providers, “brokers,” when these nonprofit organizations fail to serve them. During the last decade, most government agencies and public welfare offices have adapted online systems for their services, which has added a heavy burden to low-income immigrant clients and forced them to seek “brokers.” This change has demanded highly trained brokers with language and computer and internet skills, and only a very few bilingual brokers can offer both skills with higher service fees. The poor immigrants have to rely on the brokers for their basic needs.

3. Absence of Bilingual and Bi-cultural Leadership

With an immigration history of longer than 120 years, there has been a shift in the leadership and community. The leadership of most grant-oriented organizations is usually replaced by the second and 1.75 generation, who are more like native Americans and whose Korean language skill is less fluent, and multicultural staff. The demographics of Korean American immigrant community have also shifted. The number of retirees from U.S. workforces, with an annual average of Social Security benefit payments, has largely increased. They demonstrate fluent speaking skills but less confidence in written materials and online activities.  This increase has created a higher demand for bilingual professionals, while this special 1.5 generation has declined as the community ages.

The Current Plans

The plans are designed to bring the community together in harmony and humanity, empower bilingual and bicultural leadership and volunteerism, and build community ownership.

A. Community-Oriented Focal Points

Koreatown Empowerment Center is a community-oriented focal point of service, education, and advocacy on immigration, housing, health, job training, placement, aging in place, and nutrition.

B. Professional Volunteerism

Koreatown Empowerment Center has implemented a volunteer program, Korean American Professional Team in Network (KAPTIN), to create a nationwide service network among Korean American bilingual professionals in various subjects with computer skills.

C. Bilingual and Bi-cultural Leadership

The brighter and healthier Korean American immigrant community demands bilingual and bi-cultural leadership with profession and passion. KTEC focuses on developing leadership for the sustainability of the community.

D. Community Empowerment Fund

Koreatown Empowerment Center plans to launch a community-oriented fund to support low-income families with the immigration application fee. A family of three had been undocumented for more than twelve years only because they couldn’t afford the fee. The fund will also support the dislocated family regardless of their immigration status when they face sudden life events. The community empowerment fund is the work and pure asset of the community.