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home : education : education Monday, November 20, 2017

10/20/2016 3:56:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Unique Collaboration: Hmong College Prep Academy, United Health Group And Vega Productions Work To Increase School Band Instrument Access

By Dave Bonko

A Hmong College Prep Academy sixth grade band member inspects his new saxophone.
United Health Group executives, Vega Productions representatives and Hmong College Prep Academy band teachers, administrators and students gather in the school's band room.
What happens when the unlikely combination of a major health benefits and services corporation, arts based nonprofit and charter schoolwork together to solve an issue? A collaboration featuring United Health Group (UHG) executives, representatives from Vega Productions and Hmong College Prep Academy administrators recently met to answer this question.

As part of a unique executive training and community engagement project, United Health Group, UHG, partnered with key nonprofit organizations across the Twin Cities Metro area. Over 1,200 top UHG execs from around the world took part in the annual experience with the goal of helping area nonprofits. One UHG group met with Vega Productions, a nonprofit whose mission is to support quality music and art education in schools. UHG executives' focus was to brainstorm on how to make Vega's Instruments in the Cloud online donation program sustainable. Hmong College Prep Academy (HCPA) served as the host of the meeting where students and staff addressed the important role music education plays within their curriculum.

"This was a very unique and exciting afternoon," stated school superintendent Dr. Christianna Hang. "It's hard to comprehend how a huge health services company could help two nonprofits. However, I think this session was a win-win for all parties."

UHG executives held listening sessions with Vega where they explored the issues facing the group's Instruments in the Cloud program. The executives then met to brainstorm on proposed solutions. Earlier in the day, UHG presented members of HCPA's newly formed sixth grade band with a number of musical instruments collected from the Instruments in the Cloud program.

"What a great experience," stated HCPA Band Director Roy Pienaar. "We received fifteen instruments at the session, including a marimba! A marimba...that's awesome and two more donations came later in this week. We are so thankful to Vega Productions for their generosity and UGH executives for their insights."

Since working with HCPA, Vega Productions has donated over 70 instruments to the school's band program. "Vega's staff and volunteers are all so proud to support HCPA's band program as it grows," stated Vega Productions Executive Director Caitlin Marlotte. "The enthusiasm of these sixth graders is very inspiring!"

UGH executives were impressed, if not touched, by HCPA's dedication to arts programming.

"It was very powerful witnessing students' reactions upon receiving their instruments," stated one executive. "It was captivating to hear Pao Yang's (the school's Chief Operating Officer) take on how the arts, specifically the formation of a marching band, plays a major role in what he defines as 'The American Dream.' It's an honor to perhaps help him and Hmong College Prep Academy achieve this goal."

One donation recipient summed it up best after receiving his instrument.

"This is just like my birthday."

About Vega Productions: Vega Productions' mission is to advocate for, support and provide children and youth with equal access to quality music and art education. The organization strives to provide resources and programming for schools that have been forced to eliminate or reduce music and art education from their curriculum because of budget cuts. Since forming in 2005, Vega Productions has provided more than 30,000 students with the opportunity to participate in music and art programs across Minnesota. Parties interested in donating an instrument can contact the organization at 612-810-9070 or via e-mail, contact@vegaproductions.org.

About Hmong College Prep Academy: Since its inception, Hmong College Prep Academy has been providing its students with a well-rounded education in an environment that features individualized programs and small class sizes. Located at 1515 Brewster Street near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, HCPA is now accepting K-12 registrations for the 2016-2017 school year. Interested parties can contact HCPA at 651-209-8002 or on the web at hcpak12.org.

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