Building A Non-Profit in 2015 with Korean Quarterly

The beginning of a new year is the time to narrow down your bucket list.  You can take your volunteer hours to turn your hobby into something bigger for your community.  Some people decide to follow their dreams by creating a non-profit instead of a for profit business.  Building a business doesn't have to be driven by the thought of going corporate or creating an international company.  The work and time put into your project is the same.  Instead of looking for a capital sponsor you will be seeking out grants or depend on fundraising.  Turning your idea into a workable platform will take time and effort but you may find a non-profit more rewarding.  Here is one example of a couple, Steve and Martha Vickery, who turned their interest into a local newspaper to support and share information about Korean culture and community.

Interview with Korean Quarterly:  Steve and Martha Vickery creators of a non-profit

Question: Tell us a little bit about Korean Quarterly.  Who are you and how long has your publication running?

Answer: Korean Quarterly published for the first time in fall 1997, but we started thinking about it as much as two years earlier than that. We were members at Korean Presbyterian Church, which has birthed a lot of efforts in the Korean American community. Our publication emerged from the efforts of members at the KPC and adult students at the Korean Association of Minnesota, where we were also students at that time. We wanted a publication that would unite the interests of the local first and second generation Korean American community and the community of Korean adoptees and their families. 

We originally received a small start-up grant from the Presbyterian Church, Self-Development of People program and got advertising support, even advance of our first issue, from many businesses who are still advertising with us. Our first advertiser was Kim’s Oriental Grocery. After he signed on, other businesses followed. 

Question: Why did you decide to create Korean Quarterly?

Answer: Back in the ‘90s, we perceived at least two distinct communities in the Twin Cities area – one comprised of first and second generation Korean Americans and families, and the other, a mix of Korean adoptees, their parents, spouses and children. Beyond that were families with one Korean spouse and half-Korean kids.  All of these demographics have different interests, but all have in common their interest in things Korean. That is the audience we wanted to capture in Korean Quarterly. 

Question: What kinds of things do you feature in your publication?  How are you different from other publications?

Answer: Korean Quarterly is still the nation’s only English language newspaper for the Korean American community. We are different in that, in our publication, the interests of Korean American people are paramount. That is the criteria on which we base all of the possible submissions for our publication. We are all about uniting and supporting the Korean American community with great news, information, opinion and literature and media reviews, and by profiling Korean Americans who are emerging leaders in our community. 

Question: Can you talk about your creative process?  How do you decide what topics to cover?

Answer:  Topics are considered in a variety of ways.  We try to cover a mix of local, regional, national and international issues. We try to cover issues that are important and timely in our own view, irrespective of the topics that are the hot issues of the day in the mainstream. We try to educate and inform about Korea-U.S. relations and other complex policy issues of national and international importance. We try to pay attention to the arts and culture of Korean America.  We try to give new and emerging writers a chance to shine, whether they are native Korean speakers with a story to tell, young artists who want to publish a picture, or young adults aspiring to journalism. We also try to have a mix of news, opinion, feature stories, media and literature review, and other items to achieve a balance of content. 

At some point, we have to decide what stories have the strongest visual images, and how photos will be placed on the cover and elsewhere.  

Beyond the creative process, there is also the technical, intellectual and ethical processes of deciding what to put in and what to leave out, what to emphasize, how to be accurate and check facts, how to responsibly get both sides of the story. We have a corps of copyeditors that go through everything two or three times before we publish.  We also try to have some fun in the process of doing all this. 

Question: How does KQ help and support authors?

Answer: In our creative section, we publish the work of everyday authors, sometimes people who want to tell a story or a poem who have never published anywhere else.  However, we also have an author interview in each issue, of both famous and emerging authors, and many literature reviews not seen in any other publication. We also have resources in our advertising by many book publishers who showcase many new books of interest to Korean Americans, particularly Korean literature in translation.  

Question: Does Korean Quarterly have any exciting events they would like to talk about?

Answer:  Over the past year, we have collaborated in a variety of events.  I was a featured speaker for the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia in a session on Korean Minnesotans (for perhaps the fifth year in a row), where teachers learn how to teach about Asia; we collaborated with AdopSource in its TransRacial Film Festival; and  participated in a fundraiser for Sejong Academy (the new Korean immersion charter school to open in September 2014).  We remained committed to peace and justice causes in 2013, and were the hosts and co-collaborators with the Veterans for Peace organization in an educational and awareness event for the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Korean War, and collaborated again with the Vets for Peace, Women Against Military Madness, and several other Twin Cities peace and justice organizations in November with two showings of the new film Ghosts of Jeju, a documentary about the resistance to the naval base on Jeju Island. 

Thank you Steve and Martha!

Information about Korean Quarterly can be found at Please visit for subscription information or get updates on events in your local community.

~by Mahieu Spaid

Contributing author and artist at Mahieu Studios

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