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First Hmong charter school in Wisconsin works to expand

The Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA), the first Hmong charter school in Wisconsin, has recently launched its foundation, HAPA Foundation, Inc, in Milwaukee.

This foundation serves as a milestone in HAPA’s long-standing efforts to support Milwaukee’s Hmong community.

According to HAPA’s website, the goal of this project is to “enrich the experience of HAPA scholars, families, and staff; nurturing a culture of academic excellence, celebrating Hmong heritage, and building skills for lifelong success through community engagement, ambassadorship, and fundraising.”.

In addition, another goal of HAPA Foundation is to help HAPA solve funding gaps in an effort to further expand opportunities for its students. HAPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chris Her-Xiong, one of the reasons behind the foundation’s creation was out the decision to support the construction of a new 99,000-square foot high school building on its existing campus.

In an interview with BizTimes, Her-Xiong stated that “It started with our decision to build the new building. We wanted to make sure that we could provide support for our scholars. As we look at our population, 84% of our students come from poverty or live below the poverty line…”. In the same interview, Her-Xiong also mentioned that the current funding from Milwaukee Public Schools is insufficient, with the foundation being able to support students and scholars further.

Considering that a majority of HAPA’s students live below the poverty line, attention has been drawn towards building upon extracurricular enrichment activities, such as piano lessons, robotics clubs, boy’s and girl’s tennis, and more, as well as more expensive ventures like wrestling and tennis. Her-Xiong also hopes to raise enough funds in order to give students the chance to experience something new, like camping, while also giving them

Another reason for the foundation was to provide funding for HAPA’s dual enrichment program, which has become more expensive over time, considering that the school pays tuition for its students. Even though the dual enrollment plan is still being worked on, some of HAPA’s students are also taking classes at nearby universities. Her-Xiong told BizTimes “Our main focus with dual enrollment is to help our students graduate high school with enough credits so they only need to spend two years in college, and have half of their tuition paid for,”, as well as ensuring that students earn an associate’s degree to give them a jump start in their college careers.

Her-Xiong believes that investment into the HAPA Foundation is also an investment in Milwaukee itself, as whole 100% of HAPA attendees, 90% of them end up staying in Milwaukee in order to help out their families. With that information in mind, the hope is that HAPA, with support from local business communities, can provide chances where they can learn the skills necessary for them to become leaders in whatever profession they choose.

If you want to support the HAPA Foundation though donations, you can visit this link here. You can also contact HAPA via their email at [email protected] if you want more information.

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