What is VCSA's vision?

VCSA is dedicated to developing and building the generations of future leaders for the Vietnamese-American community across the United States, Canada and around the world.

What is VCSA's mission?

Vietnamese Culture and Science Association promotes excellence in education, leadership and skills development through culture and science. Our organization encourages multi-generational and cross-cultural collaborations.   We foster civic participation in the mainstream and Vietnamese America.

Describe briefly VCSA's formation history and track records
VCSA was founded in 1990, initially with 14 members located in Houston, Texas. Within the last 12 years, it has grown into a national organization with more than 400 members. VCSA is based in Houston, Texas with chapters in Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; San Diego, California; and Washington, DC.

What are some recent VCSA accomplishments?
Although VCSA has not obtained any governmental funding, it has managed to establish its first VCSA center in September 2000. The center is located in the heart of the Vietnamese-American community in Houston and vicinity. It was maintained in the last two years with a full year-round schedule of community service activities and programs to serve the Vietnamese community in Houston and vicinity in many different disciplines: social, health awareness, educational, cultural and recreational. All of these programs were run by hundreds of volunteers recruited by VCSA. VCSA is currently establishing another center in the Dallas/Fort Worth area using the same model of operation as in Houston. VCSA is famous for its dedication to volunteerism and the spirit of teamwork. In 2002, it placed second in the nation for the prestigious National Leadership Independent Sector Award. This recognition was due to the extraordinary spirit of volunteerism of VCSA members in the last twelve years.

A quote from Phuong Mai Duong, a CPA working for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Houston, Texas

7 years ago when I first came to the US, I was fascinated about what I saw as volunteerism here. But too busy with school, I could only participate in my University’s volunteer tax filling for low-income people. To be honest, it was not an activity truly motivated by my heart but in the purpose of gaining credit with Beta Alpha Psi fraternity and a way to get to the door of ‘Big Five’ after graduation. The day I received the letter of acknowledgement for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) from City of Seattle - Washington, I read that sentence “Volunteerism is in the heart of America”. That sentence has always been in my mind for the last several years.

In the process of finding something meaningful to do in my life, one day, by chance I have found VCSA. Within 1 hour, I filled out my membership application andcould never imagine how this has changed my life. I have learned several valuable skills to my personal development. But the most important thing is to learn to think about other people!  

I have found an association that has proven itself to be a genuinely caring group of people who devote their time whole-heartedly for good cause. Words can not describe how proud I am to be a little part of it.   I can say now, with much conviction, that “Volunteerism is in the heart of Vietnamese people”!” And you too, you can be a proud part of us. Join us to find a meaningful way to spend your time for good cause and to deliver your “first-class performance” to any project we set our heart to carry out. For our beloved country across the oceans, for our community here, for our proud race of Vietnamese!“

What are the VCSA's regular activities?
Every year, VCSA delivers three major projects:

  • Annual National Youth Leadership Development Camp, “Camp Len Duong.”
  • Annual Youth Excellence Recognition Luncheon program to recognize local Valedictorians and Salutatorians who are Vietnamese-Americans from local high schools.
  • A Poem and Music Recital Program or some Cultural and Performing Arts Event that relates to Vietnamese culture.

Besides these projects, the following programs and activities are held for members and friends as time allows:

  • Monthly Toastmaster (public speaking skill development program)
  • Monthly Book Reading Club
  • Monthly meeting
  • Quarterly Coffee Night (to create the opportunities for members to appreciate Vietnamese music and a social event for members who are music lovers).
  • Quarterly Professional Development workshops (such as Leadership development workshops, Interview and Resume preparation workshops, scientific and technical workshops for web team, etc.)
 For chapters which have a center, we offer the following community service programs to the general public, especially focusing on the low-income families from the Vietnamese community:
  • Free translation service for parents when conferencing with schools. Volunteers arrange this service as needed.
  • Health Awareness and Health Promotion workshops. Topics address common community diseases, preventive care, etc.
  • Financial Educational workshops for professionals and business owners.
  • Tobacco Control Workshops for kids and young adults.
  • After school tutorial programs for students grades 6 - 12.
  • Mentoring program
  • Computer Classes
  • Martial Art Classes
  • Vietnamese Language Classes for young adults.
  • Vietnamese Literature and History Classes.
  • Guitar Classes
These programs are currently delivered by the VCSA center in Houston and also some programs are delivered by the VCSA Chapter in DFW. Other programs may be offered depending on available resources.

What can VCSA do for its members?

Per its mission statement, VCSA places an emphasis on developing youth because youth is a crucial factor in achieving the goal of building a strong Vietnamese-American community. Per VCSA’s Mission Statement, VCSA provides a multi-faceted environment where Vietnamese-American youth can nurture their innovative ideas and skills and exchange them with other members. In order for the youth to be able to take on leadership roles in their community activities, VCSA main focus since its inception is to build leadership skills and transfer of management knowledge to its young members.

Throughout all the programs and activities delivered by VCSA, the organization focuses on developing young members’ leadership capability by coaching and mentoring them during the program such as Youth Leadership Development Camp. (All personal leadership development workshops and inter-personal leadership skills development are delivered at Len Duong camp.) VCSA also prepares them for leadership roles and then encourages them to take on the leadership roles when they are ready.  

 VCSA also creates opportunities for all members to network, and grow personally and professionally.

What can VCSA members do for VCSA?

The spirit of volunteerism is the main characteristic that all members of VCSA have demonstrated in the past twelve years. The organization would not have survived and flourished so rapidly without the contribution of thousands of volunteer hours from all of its members. Depending on the skill set of each member, he or she can contribute time or other resources to various projects delivered by VCSA year round. Remote members can contribute articles to the annual Huong Viet magazine and recruit volunteers and participants for the annual Len Duong camp in their community, as well as enlist new members and establish new VCSA chapters. 

What can VCSA do for the Vietnamese American community?

VCSA serves the Vietnamese-American community in the two main areas: Cultural and Scientific (as its name was formed). In other words, VCSA serves the Vietnamese-community with numerous regular community services programs in many different aspects: education, culture, technical and scientific, social and health promotion. It is also very actively involved with many humanitarian efforts in collaboration with other community organizations such as organizing walkathon for the benefit of flood victims in Vietnam.

What can Vietnamese American community do for VCSA?

VCSA receives most of its financial and volunteer support from the Vietnamese-American community at each local city where it has a chapter. For each community project, VCSA collaborates with other community organizations (both mainstream and Asian/Vietnamese) and recruit volunteers to work and deliver the project as planned.

Will VCSA be a mainstream organization? Why and when would it become one? If not, why not?

What is “mainstream”? Since its name is Vietnamese Culture and Science Association, the organization’s main focus is on the Vietnamese-American community at each local city. However, it also accepts membership from other ethnicity as well as from the American community. VCSA’s membership includes all professions, backgrounds and religions, and it is not limited to Vietnamese-Americans. Kevin Southwick is the first non-Vietnamese-descendant member. After graduating from a VCSA-sponsored Vietnamese language class, he has become an active member and a main contributor of the Fund Raising team since 2001.

VCSA Membership Profile

VCSA membership covers a diversity of different Vietnamese-Americans backgrounds, age, religion, and professions. Out of 500 current members, seven (8) have Doctorate of Philosophy Degrees (Ph.D.), 200 have Bachelor Degrees, and 62 have Master Degrees. We have 15 technicians, 10 teachers, 150 students, 18 medical doctors, 8 pharmacists, 65 engineers, 4 attorneys-at-law, 20 accounting professionals and numerous others such as nail salon owners, business owners, entrepreneurs, police officers and private pilots. The youngest member is a 12-year-old daughter of one member of the Executive Board. (She was so inspired by her parents’ involvement with VCSA charitable projects that she insisted on joining although she did not meet the age requirement, 16, so an exception was made.) The oldest member is Mr. Anthony Tan, 81-years-old, who is also an active member of the Vietnamese Senior Citizen Association. His grandson was in the After School Tutorial program and was inspired by VCSA’s volunteer work.

VCSA encourages members to develop their professional competence and leadership skills by participating in various workshops and professional development programs delivered year round. Some popular programs are the monthly Toastmaster Program, Book Reading Club and Financial Educational workshop series.

Describe VCSA's fundrasing/revenue models
  • VCSA’s revenue has been mostly provided by the following sources:
  • Public support through sponsorship and donation through all local community fund raising events such as concerts, Tet festival, fund raising banquets, etc.
  • Financial support from big corporations such as IBM, ExxonMobil, Duke Energy, State Farm Insurance Companies, MetLife Foundation, Shell Oil Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Texas Instruments, etc. These sponsorships were given according to different projects delivered by VCSA throughout the year.

Fees obtained by the public to attend events such as the Spring Concert, Thousand Miles from Home Concert, and many Music and Poem Recital Nights delivered at each local city.

In the near future, VCSA will begin to seek funding from state, local and federal governments to expand services to the national level and to deliver more effectively at the local level. 

VCSA receives a small grant from the Tobacco Free Project of Harris County and has been running a campaign “VCSA Says NO to Tobacco” in the past three years (2002-2005).

Where will VCSA be in the next 5 or 10 years?

VCSA is currently reviewing and modifying its organization structure to accommodate the rapid growth. 

VCSA aims to become recognized nationally by both the mainstream and Vietnamese communities in the U.S. and overseas. It plans to build at least one new chapter every year in the next five years. (Targeted cities include Washington DC, Orlando, Florida, Orange County, California, Seattle, Washington, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and possibly Toronto, Canada).