Saturday, April 21, 2012
Lue Her, Archibald Bush Leadership Fellow
As part of my Bush fellowship, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with and learn from fellow Hmong-Americans throughout this country. It’s no surprise that the issues that continue to plague Hmong-American communities are diverse and complex. Many are perennial concerns, including how to meet basic needs, address health disparities, provide job skills training, close the achievement gap, manage cultural conflicts, create economic self-sufficiency, define gender roles and more.
Leveraging Current Assets
But few people in the Hmong-American community seem to realize that many of the challenges facing its members could be addressed and greatly advanced if we had our own philanthropic vehicle to leverage financial, intellectual and cultural assets – assets that exist within our community right now.
Unlike preceding generations, young Hmong-Americans today have made enormous strides in acquiring education, participating in the workforce, encouraging entrepreneurship and accumulating wealth. We’ve integrated ourselves into American culture without losing the history, language and structures that have defined our people for centuries.
For many Hmong-Americans the concept of giving back through philanthropic channels remains foreign. But it would be far from the truth to say that benevolence and contributing toward the lives of others are absent in our community. In fact, Hmong-Americans have long participated in a variety of traditions and practices that presume donations of time, effort and money.
The more apparent reason for the Hmong-American community’s lack of participation in organized philanthropy is that they have not been invited to contribute. Philanthropic organizations and their partners have simply not anticipated or planned on Hmong-Americans being willing and able participants in bettering the lives of their people and neighbors.
An Invitation to Give Back
I believe that Hmong-Americans must not wait any longer to be asked to participate in philanthropy for the betterment of our community. That is why I, along with several other young Hmong-American and non-Hmong leaders, am embarking on an endeavor to create a Hmong Community Foundation.
This new philanthropic organization will identify pressing issues of Hmong-American communities near and far and help define methods to remedy them. It will accept responsibility for aligning our community’s resources to address the challenges facing our people. The Hmong Community Foundation will also serve as an ambassador to other new immigrant populations by addressing common issues that require great courage and resources to overcome.
My hope is that the Hmong Community Foundation will help author a new chapter in our community’s story and redefine, once again, a group of refugees from the villages of Laos. Only this time the narrative will revolve around the impact of Hmong philanthropy on the larger world.
To learn more, contact Her at 651.331.9587 or HmongCommunityFoundation@gmail.com.