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Hmong American nonprofit to bring more resources to St. Paul

May 4, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The largest Hmong American nonprofit in the country is trying to bring job training, youth classrooms, childcare and even assisted living to St. Paul.

The Hmong American Partnership plans to develop the projects at three sites in St. Paul around next year, the Pioneer Press reported. But the nonprofit’s projects depend on a $14 million campaign that’s still less than half-funded.

The campaign was backed last summer by then-Gov. Mark Dayton, who signed a bonding bill that included $5.5 million for the nonprofit’s two workforce centers.

One of the centers will bring workforce training, high school classes and a Montessori pre-kindergarten program under one roof.

The 30,000-square-foot building will be used in part to expand a charter school that already serves a large Hmong population in the city, the Community School of Excellence. The project will develop new high school classes at the school, which the nonprofit oversees. A new ninth grade class will be implemented at the center this September, and a grade level will be added each following year.

Graduates who aren’t interested in college will be welcomed to pursue certifications at the center in information technology, health care, human services, education or engineering and design.

“The training program here would cater to a younger population,” rather than the nonprofit’s traditional target group of adult English language learners, said Bao Vang, the nonprofit’s executive director.

The center’s Montessori program would provide childcare for day and evening classes.

The nonprofit is also pursuing a new transportation training center to offer mechanic instruction in the city.

Vang said unemployment remains high for many communities of color in the Twin Cities, including Southeast Asian immigrants.

The unemployment rate for Hmong Americans is 10%, which is well above the 3.1% rate for Minnesota’s workforce and 3.8% for American workers in general.

The nonprofit’s third site proposal was also recently approved by St. Paul officials. The City Council authorized a development agreement for a 50-unit assisted living facility. The nonprofit is working with investors to develop the site, but it’s unclear what’s next for the project to move forward.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com