Monday, October 26, 2009

Asian American & Pacific Islander Leadership Summit A Success

The Lao Assistance Center hosted the Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative Leadership Summit 2009:
Are We Relevant? Making a Case for Our Community with the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans on Saturday, October 23rd at the Lao Assistance Center and the Harrison Neighborhood Association. With over 50 participants throughout the day, it was a great opportunity for the community to connect and learn how to be effective leaders in the community and to make their cases well. Thanks to everyone who came to participate!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

40 Civil Rights and Social Justice Groups Support Net Neutrality

A letter from over 40 groups that represent people of color and low income individuals showing support for net neutrality was recently sent to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, in advance of an upcoming vote to issue proposed net neutrality rules.  The letter is available at 

Lao American rapper Lila T. supports UXO Removal 10/24

Minnesota-based Lao American rapper Lila T. is helping collect signatures for A Peaceful Legacy petition at the "Turn Up The Volume on PEACE," concert that Vigilant Promotions is presenting at the EPIC Live Concert Venue on Saturday, October 24th in Minneapolis, MN. 

This event is filled with Freestyle battles and Bad Boy & Bad Girl battles. You can show support for Lila T. as she performs at this Violence Awareness concert and sign A Peaceful Legacy petition while Lila T. signs her autograph for you. Bring your friends and brush up on your battle skills. You would want to be prepared if and when inspiration strikes. EPIC 110 N. 5th Street, Minneapolis, MN 5540. Saturday, October 24, 2009.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SEACHIP Assistance to Insure Children

From 2009 to 2011, the Lao Assistance Center will be part of a coalition to implement the Southeast Asian Children’s Health Insurance Program (SEACHIP), to enroll low-income, uninsured Southeast Asian children in Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare insurance plans.

The United Cambodian Association of Minnesota, Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women in Minnesota, and Vietnamese Social Services will partner together on this initiative with the Lao Assistance Center.

Recognizing that millions of children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but are therefore needlessly uninsured, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 set aside $100 million for fiscal years 2009-2013 expressly to help find and enroll eligible children. “No child in America should go without decent healthcare,” said Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations, the group within the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services that will administer the grants. “With the funds we are awarding today we hope to reduce the number of children who do.”

If you are interested in getting health insurance for your children, contact Chongchith Saengsudham at or call (612) 375-4967.

American DTV Switch Complete. Still Need Help?

Although the DTV conversion to digital television is now complete, the volunteers of the DTV Assistance Center at the Lao Assistance Center continue to provide support for members of the community to obtain digital converter boxes to receive HDTV. If you have questions, please feel free to call or stop by the Lao Assitance Center offices at 503 Irving Avenue North, Suite 100A in Minneapolis.

A big thank you to everyone who was so supportive of us as we assisted hundreds of families in making the switch. We couldn’t have done it without you! A special thanks to our partners with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and Grassroots Solutions who helped make this possible.

Support Census 2010 Efforts, Help Lao Change Community

Completing the Census helps us see the progress Lao have made in education, business and community and family development. It’s an easy and exciting opportunity to learn more about the changes we’ve seen in the last ten years and to see where we can go in the future.

Minnesota has the third largest population of Lao in America based on the last Census figures. At one point, the Lao were the 6th largest population in Minnesota with nearly 25,000 residents. How has that changed? Let’s find out!

Among the biggest problems we're concerned with this year are apathy, fear and ignorance about what the Census 2010 is and isn't and showing the community how to avoid scams from unscrupulous individuals pretending to be a part of the Census count. Remember! The Census will never ask you for social security numbers or bank account numbers. Information is confidential and anonymous!

If you'd like to get involved in Census 2010 efforts in the Minnesota community contact us at the Lao Assistance Center. Pany Siharath is taking the lead on these efforts at the Lao Assistance Center and you can contact him at or call the Lao Assistance Center at (612) 375-4967.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lao Assistance Center staff presents at 2009 Asian Media Camp

Lao Assistance Center staff member Bryan Thao Worra spoke on October 15th to 28 Asian American youth in Minnesota on his work and life as a writer as part of the 2009 Asian Media Camp organized by Asian Media Access. Thao Worra, along with other mentors from the National Asian American Professionals Association and other community members reflected on the skills they needed to succeed in school and in their jobs.

Offered each year by Asian Media Access, the camp uses hands-on media training, teaching Asian American youth and giving them a chance to explore current issues in ways to effectively reach a broad audience. Students are assigned to one of the four training groups - Video Production, Video Editing, Creative Writing and Photography - and receive specialized training in those areas. Students then collaborate with each other in production groups and produce their own short videos, written articles and photographs.

This year's camp was held at Camp Kingswood in woodsy Minnetrista.

"It is our belief that youth should consider their future, by defining both a career goal and the steps necessary to achieve that goal," said Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access. "The mission of Asian Media Access is to connect the disconnected."

Asian Media Access’ team have been working to focus their curriculum on life skills, leadership development, career exploration and education choices, so that our youth will be ready to enter the adult world. Mentor Presentation was a crucial piece of that exploration process.

"I was very happy to speak to the youth, and I hope to see even more young voices participate in the years ahead," Thao Worra said. "I was particularly happy to see the number of Asian American girls represented this year, and look forward to seeing more of these bright voices exploring their potential as participants in our society."

Online Unemployment Resources

One of the important parts of any job search is finding good leads to start with. The Internet has many sites which offer jobs but there are also a few places where better job opportunities get posted very consistently. Some of our favorites include:
Don't be discouraged when looking for work! Be sure to spend time connecting with family and friends during this time, and if you spot jobs which aren't good for you but maybe for others, pass them on. Together, we grow as a community!

Asian American Scholarships

One of the most comprehensive guides for scholarships for Asian American students can be found at: with resources that are current up to 2011. But deadline dates are coming up soon for students and they should start getting ready. If you have students who are interested in applying for scholarships, please contact the Lao Assistance Center at (612) 374-4967 or and we can give you additional tips and ways to write a successful scholarship application.

Deadlines will be coming up soon, so it's best for students to prepare ahead of time. Good academics and community involvement, particularly a demonstration of leadership skills and abilities is an important part of the application. If your youth are interested in finding opportunities to volunteer in the community, feel free to contact us and we'll provide some great ideas!

Legacies of War Petition to Remove UXO from Laos

From our colleagues at Legacies of War:

Laos is the most bombed country in history as a result of U.S. bombings from 1964-1973, leaving close to half of the country contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnances, including 78 million cluster bombs that litter forests, rice fields, villages, school grounds, roads, and other populated areas.

Over 34,000 people have been killed or injured since the bombing ceased, most of whom are children. And now, nearly 40 years after the last bombs were dropped, over 300 new casualties occur each year.

To stop the continued harm and suffering of innocent lives a petition has been started to ask the U.S. government to increase funding for cluster bomb removal in Laos and assist victims and affected families. You can sign the petition today and get involved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


In a ceremony on October 15th at the White House, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders (the Initiative) and in doing so demonstrated a federal level commitment to improving the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) throughout the United States.

The Initiative was first established during the Clinton Administration in 1999 and was initially housed in the Department of Health and Human Services and then later in the Department of Commerce. Under President Obama, the Initiative now officially moves to the Department of Education. As President Obama stated during the signing ceremony earlier today, the mission of the Initiative is to “work with 23 agencies and departments across our government to improve the health, education, and economic status of AAPI communities.” The Initiative and the Commission will be co-chaired by the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and the Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke.

While President Obama talked today about the many strengths of the AAPI communities, he also acknowledged that significant obstacles still face many AAPIs. He discussed health and educational disparities, as well as high poverty rates and language access challenges, all issues that are of importance to Southeast Asian Americans, and issues that the Initiative will work to address.

“SEARAC commends President Obama for reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders. This is an exciting moment and an important indication that the Obama Administration takes the concerns of our diverse AAPI communities seriously. We recognize that the challenges facing many in our communities are great, and the Initiative will need support and active cooperation from all communities around the country. We look forward to our partnership with the Initiative,” states Doua Thor, Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center.

The Lao Assistance Center also recognizes the significance of this moment and is pleased that the Obama Administration takes the needs and concerns of the AAPI communities seriously. "We look forward to seeing those interests reflected in emerging policy and opportunities," said Sunny Chanthanouvong, executive director for the Lao Assistance Center.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 24th: Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative Leadership Summit 2009

Asian American & Pacific Islander
Initiative Leadership Summit 2009:
Are We Relevant? Making a Case for Our Community

Free Leadership & Professional Development Training
Leadership Summit 2009 is designed for young professionals, non-profit staff and board leaders interested in honing their leadership skills to be the leaders to transform and lead their organizations or community.

Workshops are lead by professionals with extensive experience in leadership development.

Participants will receive:
-Free Leadership Assessment Test & Feedback to all participants
-Help leaders craft a 30 second leadership statement
-Help leaders craft a 30 second case statement for their community & organizations
-Free staff and board development training

Registration is FREE
RSVP to Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans at 651-757-1740 or

This summit is made possible through funding from Hennepin County, which provides support for the Hennepin County Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative.

9:00 am Leadership Panel
10:00 am Leadership Assessment Survey
11:00 am Leadership Feedback
12:00 pm Industry Specific Discussions
-Private Industry
-Non-Profit Leadership
-Non-Profit Board Development
-Non-Profit Staff Development

This Week At The Lao Assistance Center: 10/12-10/16

This week, the Lao Assistance staff met with the staff of Project for Pride in Living and the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans to discuss issues of unemployment and community access to key job hunting resources.

Our offices were also visited by local political candidates running for several positions including the Parks and Recreation board. Earlier, on October 9th, the Lao Assistance Center was visited by members of the National Gender Equity campaign to discuss our progress in exploring issues of social justice in the community.

We also met with local Latin American community organizers regarding preparations for Census 2010. We're very excited about this important project and we hope all Lao will take part in the Census. We want to know how much our community has changed in 10 years!

We recently completed our quarterly report regarding our Southeast Asian Living Chemically Free program with Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council.

On Saturday, October 17th, Kinnary Pimpadubsee, the Lao Assistance Center Youth Coordinator will be meeting with youth to discuss issues of alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention and work with them to plan a youth forum in December.This will take place at 2PM at the Lao Assistance Center at 503 Irving Ave. N, Minneapolis, MN.

The Lao Assistance Center continues to offer one-on-one, group and family support sessions for individuals who wish to recover from alcoholism, drug use and smoking. If you are interested in these services for yourself or someone you know, call 612-374-4967.

Bounleuth Gowing, our Elder Access specialist, continues her work to assist Lao elders in Minnesota, helping them to participate in our community and to access the services and support they need. A growing concern for her is the number of isolated Lao women who are elders and how their needs can be met so that they can age with dignity. She recently met on October 2nd with Senator Mee Moua and other Minnesota politicians to advocate for changes in state policies for elders that were excluding the voice of immigrants and refugees. She presented a letter to Senator Moua outlining some of the Lao Assistance Center's deep concerns, drawing from both her personal observations as well as trends other communities are identifying.

The Lao Assistance Center continues to offer support for individuals facing issues of unemployment and housing foreclosure and is examining ways to strengthen its connections to agencies working at many different levels on this issue. We are continuing to support the project members of Lao Community Learning Change, an approach to empower at-risk, unemployed Lao men and women to develop key skills to effectively find work and improve conditions for workers in ways that allow them to spend more time with their families and community in order to escape multigenerational cycles of poverty.

The Lao Assistance Center is currently working to raise funds to bring several special projects to the Twin Cities, including classes in traditional Lao dance and music and the acclaimed play, Refugee Nation. The agency hopes to have great news to report to everyone soon.

With the recent snowfall in Minnesota, now is a good time to remind everyone to be careful when traveling and to be prepared in your automobiles as well as at home.