East Rock Institute Endowment Fund
supporting one of the oldest nonprofit research and cultural organizations dedicated to Korean studies in the U.S.
New Haven is home to many unique cultural institutions.
East Rock Institute (ERI) is one such organization that works to preserve and promote the heritage of Korean culture and identity by providing intercultural experiences. A nonprofit organization located in New Haven, ERI established an organization endowment fund at The Community Foundation in 2006 to provide a permanent source of support for its mission.
ERI is the oldest nonprofit organization in the U.S. devoted to Korean and Korean diaspora cultures, and according to co-founder, chair, and President Emerita of East Rock Institute Dr. Hesung Chun Koh, ERI is an internationally recognized pioneer in the development of innovative educational, scholarly and cultural programs that bring together diverse communities through explorations of Korean culture and identity.
The origins of the Institute date back to 1952 when Dr. Koh and her husband Kwang Lim Koh, Ph.D., S.J.D. started it while living in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Koh family continued the Institute after leaving Cambridge and purchased the building that now houses ERI in New Haven in 1966.
Under Dr. Koh’s leadership, ERI has spearheaded numerous programs to promote cultural understanding between the United States and Korea and beyond. This includes groundbreaking efforts to help young Korean Americans with identity development by organizing and convening nearly 30 annual conferences as well as the founding and editing of the Korean and Korean American Studies Bulletin, the only journal dedicated to the subject of Korean Diasporas that was published between 1984-2007.
Koh, a mother of six who immigrated to the U.S. at 19, has spent a lifetime of being a cultural ambassador through her artistic endeavors and her contributions to her residential and cultural communities. She organized and developed three one-hour educational TV programs on Korean art, Korean art and culture and Korean music in cooperation with CT Public Television (CPTV) and Audio Learning Ltd. London. Behind the walls of the Institute, Dr. Koh continues to carry out research, publications, leadership training, and educational and cultural programs after 24 years of research and teaching at HRAF and at Yale University.
Now in her nineties, Koh is a respected Korean-American female scholar, social activist, author, and community leader. Dr. Koh has published and edited several books on various aspects of Korea and East Asia, including comparative culture, society, women, information systems, leadership and Aging. She has received many awards from both Korea and the U.S., including the renowned Order of Civic Merit medal from the Republic of Korea (2007) and the Outstanding Americans by Choice from the U.S. Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services (2016).
Her current projects entail creating a full catalog of her Korean cultural objects collection, some of which is on display at East Rock Institute, and supporting a documentary project to preserve and commemorate the experience of the Korean-American community in Connecticut.
Gifts to support the East Rock Institute Endowment Fund are welcomed to help ERI continue to bridge cultures and advance the identity and unique contributions of Koreans and Korean Americans.
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