I want to make a difference in the Hmong community and I know that I am not the only one. Nonprofit programs have played a key role in my life trajectory, by providing mentors, education, extracurricular activities, and opportunities throughout my childhood and young adult life. Fortunately, these opportunities were free thanks to foundation grants, business giving, individual donors and organization partnerships. I believe that contributing to community programs serving the Hmong community may also have a positive effect on others, as they’ve had on me.
I started the Qhia Dab Neeg Film Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota and wanted to bring artists and the Hmong community together to tell our stories. It was during these six years I was leading the film festival that I learned how difficult it was to raise money to provide programming for Hmong storytelling. The annual film festival has persevered every year, and much of it was due to the artists, supporters, volunteers, and audience who believed in its purpose.
Recently, I started working at a philanthropy consulting firm and heard the statistics of Asian poverty rates in the United States, and Hmong listed as the largest Asian group living in poverty. One out of every three Hmong people in the United States is living in poverty. As a young Hmong professional, I feel obligated to do something about it. When I learned about a colleague of mine co-chairing a giving circle, it inspired me to start the Hmong Impact Giving Circle with Cynthia Yongvang from Seattle, Washington. We both recognized the struggles within the Hmong community and want to build a national network of like-minded individuals who can give back.
Through my family background, personal experiences, struggles, and learned skills, I desire to help the Hmong community. Understanding that many of my struggles as a youth and in my community are still issues that exist today, I want to start the Hmong Impact Giving Circle so that more opportunities may be created for the Hmong community.