Who we are
Who we are
We are Kandelia!
Kandelia, previously known as VFA, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization providing direct programs, opportunities, and tools to address systemic inequities so immigrant and refugee families and communities can thrive without having to compromise values, heritage or ethnicity. Leveraging our convener model and years of experience rooted in the Vietnamese community, we center youth in our work—championing and building them up so they can be their full authentic selves.
Kandelia was born over 40 years ago as the Vietnamese Friendship Association. Our goal was to support Vietnamese refugees moving to Seattle after the Vietnam war as people were seeking to provide opportunities for their families to survive and ultimately succeed. Due to the resilience, support, and success of the Vietnamese community, over the years, we evolved to serve all immigrant and refugee communities looking for the same goals.
The Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA) is now known as Kandelia. Our new name honors our Vietnamese heritage and reflects what our families and students have experienced. Kandelias are a type of mangrove found in Vietnam and many other Asian countries. This mangrove creates seedlings that when ready, drop into the water. Seedlings can be transported great distances and survive in this transient state for up to a year. When it finds its new home, the kandelia will change its shape to plant itself into the mud. Once rooted, it will access nutrients to support its growth. To survive, it can change the density of its roots to adapt to its environment, but if the plant finds that it is not thriving in its location, it actually can uproot itself and float to another environment that it can find success in.
How we make an impact
Reducing the systemic equality gap
Inequity needs to be confronted at both an individual and systemic level. Our direct services address the issue at an individual youth level, our engagement, advocacy and education bridge the divides at a systemic level.
Direct on-site services
We meet the youth where they are by providing in school/on-site youth and family support programs and services that are culturally responsive and holistically enriching.
Youth success and life-readiness
By centering youth we are working at the most effective entry point to building long-term success for immigrant and refugee families and communities. We help them recover, stabilize, and thrive. We support their families and reduce the load they carry as cultural brokers.
A society where all are equal and valued
Participation and contribution to culture and society significantly reduces negative bias for immigrants and refugees. We provide avenues to participation while celebrating culture, heritage and ethnicity, and take steps to support equality in society.
Our landscape view and partnership model enables us to engage and convene strong and stable partner experts to meet youth and family needs in the most efficient and effective way.
Community centered fundraising
We are committed to a community centered, relationship-based fundraising model which amplifies the voices and power of the communities we serve, our supporters, and our neighbors.
40-plus years of experience
Rooted in our work and impact with the Vietnamese community, we now leverage our experience to build up all refugee and immigrant youth, families and communities.
“The most important thing is that they love us like family. It doesn’t matter where we come from or
who we are. They don’t see that. They treat us all incredibly well and they are great, unique people.“