Recently HAP Academy OIC celebrated the culmination of almost five years of hard work that recently resulted in the approval by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners of $5.5 Million in bonding for the Hmong American Partnership (HAP) to acquire two workforce training facilities. These HAP Academy OIC facilities on Sycamore Street and Plato Boulevard will provide valuable training in healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, and job training for bus drivers and mechanics, driving vital workforce development needed for the community.
This celebration was a chance to honor, thank, and hear from key public officials and community members, without whom this celebration would have never happened. Attendees heard from former Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, Ramsey County Commissioner Mai Chong Xiong, Senator Eric Pratt, and Senator Foung Hawj, among several others.
“I remember when this project was being proposed [early on], and I am excited to be here today,” shared Senator Foung Hawj. He added, “this is about creating jobs for people. We need to continue to invest in our communities and this is the time to improve ourselves and to extend a hand to help others. HAP has made our communities more competitive and ready for 21st century jobs.”
“One of my last official actions at Ramsey County was to approve the $5.5M in state funding to close the financing gap on this project,” shared former Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough. He added, “When we invest in HAP it’s a direct investment in people, because when we invest in individuals, it is truly the community who benefits the most. This is truly a generational investment”.
Commissioner Mai Chong Xiong said, “This project’s end is a beginning for many in our community. Those needing to overcome language barriers, those needing training to become employable. For them, these new facilities are a wonderful asset to access.”
Senator Eric Pratt added, “The first time I toured this facility, [I] saw dirt piles and studs. It was exciting then, but [it’s] even more so now because [we] saw the vision that HAP had from the beginning. It’s been an honor to be part of this effort.”
This was also an opportunity for HAP to share more about its programs and the impact they will continue to have in their community. HAP introduced their new and exciting leadership team in charge of implementing our vision and mission to drive prosperity in Minnesota’s Hmong and New American communities: This included HAP CEO May yer (pronounced “Mine-za”) Thao, CFO Reona Vang and CPO Heather Kamia.
Over the past few decades, HAP has proudly become the largest Hmong-founded, Hmong-led non-profit in the United States. They continue excelling and building upon the great work and impact HAP has been known for in the past.
“This celebration is not just about concrete walls and ceilings – not just about buildings. These facilities symbolize the spaces we create for communities who would not otherwise have an opportunity and/or access to bettering their lives to push them out of poverty and low-income to the middle class and beyond,” shared HAP CEO May yer Thao.
May yer Thao is originally from Saint Paul and came back home last year to lead HAP after living in Wisconsin for more than a decade. Her career spans many years of investment in community and bridge building across multiple sectors. She joined HAP from the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) in Madison, Wisconsin, where she served as Assistant Deputy Director. There, she directed strategic efforts in economic development and affordable housing.
About Hmong American Partnership (HAP)
HAP is a nonprofit organization that works within the social services and community development sectors. HAP addresses the needs of more than 25,000 immigrants and refugees across the Twin Cities. Over the past 15 years, HAP has proudly become the largest Hmong-founded and led nonprofit in the United States. HAP is grateful to the communities it serves and will continue to do the work of empowering New Americans from all walks of life.