Fab Philanthropists

Eddy Zheng

Founder and President at New Breath Foundation

Photo by Jonathan Shorter.

Driven by his own experiences, Eddy Zheng founded the New Breath Foundation as a driving force to help provide “hope, healing and new beginnings” for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) new immigrants and refugees; people impacted by incarceration and deportation, and survivors of violence. The Oakland-based nonprofit achieves this through targeted a mission-based approach with grant-making, education and advocacy efforts.

What motivates you to pursue this kind of philanthropy? I wanted to create a more equitable and accessible system of funds and other resources for the most marginalized communities of color. New Breath Foundation addresses the inequity of the national distribution of resources towards Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Less than 0.2 percent of philanthropic dollars is given to these communities partly due to the Asian model minority myth that they’re successful. 

You’re an inspiration to so many — who has most inspired you? My mentor and late activist Yuri Kochiyama inspired me because she challenged systemic racism and fought for human rights by building bridges across different communities. Her clarity and humility has been a model for me as I approach my work.

Best advice for someone looking to give back and get involved in their community? Give from a place of listening while building trustful relationships with the community; be mindful of your intentions and actions; and don’t overpromise and underdeliver. 

What impact do you most hope to leave on the world? The world is a better place when I leave compared to when I took my first breath.

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