Noelle Ito, director of community philanthropy at AAPIP (Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy), was scheduled to receive a White House Champion of Change Award on Friday as part of President Barack Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.

Honorees are selected by the White House Office of Public Engagement, in partnership with AmeriCorp Alumni and the Corporation for National & Community Service. Ito served with the AmeriCorp National Youth Service Project in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of her career in the public interest.

Noelle Ito

Following her service with AmeriCorp, she went on to play key roles in such organizations as Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Little Tokyo Service Center and BronxWorks, along with many volunteer projects.

“This recognition is long overdue and well-deserved,” observed Peggy Saika, president/executive director of San Francisco-based AAPIP. “Noelle’s commitment to the AAPI community coupled with her dedication and resourcefulness are enormous assets for communities across the nation. She is nurturing community-based philanthropy and growing new giving circles. We could not be prouder of her achievements.”

Ito joined AAPIP in May 2011, and now leads the first and only campaign of its kind to develop giving circles in Asian American/Pacific Islander communities throughout the nation. Giving circles are community-based, volunteer-led groups of friends, family and like-minded individuals who pool their money and donations, and together decide how to support issues and organizations in their own communities.

Ito’s efforts with the campaign are already having an impact – there are now 20 AAPI giving circles in 10 cities across the country.

“Giving Circles are a concept that deeply intrigue me as a way to get a new generation of donors involved in democratic philanthropy where we decide where our dollars go,” Ito commented. “Individually, our donations may not seem large enough to make change or even worthwhile, but collectively we can make a greater impact. To receive a donation from within your community can be extremely empowering.”

The award presentation was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House.

For more information about the White House Winning the Future initiative, visit For information on AAPIP, visit

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