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Adult Stability– LACM’s largest program offers financial, employment and housing counseling, tax aid, parenting and advocacy services, assisting almost 600 families annually to increase self-sufficiency. LACM also refers clients with gambling addiction to culturally appropriate service providers.

Lao arrived in the US as refugees from the Laotian Civil War (1954-1975) that killed or displaced over half a million people and left Laos more heavily bombed than all of Europe in WWII.

While Lao have made many gains in rebuilding their lives in the US, research conducted by the Asian American Justice Center in 2006 shows that educationally the Lao community lags behind 7 other Twin City Asian American groups including Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Korean, Asian Indian, Filipino and the Japanese.Compared to all Twin City adults, we are significantly behind, and the gap continues to grow.

Just 17% of Lao adults have a 2-year college degree or better compared to 43% of all Twin City adults. Further, 42% of Lao adults have less than a high school education as compared to just 9% of all Twin City adults. Our significant educational attainment disparities- high school dropouts and lack of college creates long-term and immediate strains on key services and impacts community growth.

The Lao Assistance Center collaborates on other issues with local organizations and coalitions.

These include the Southeast Asian Community Council, APIA Vote, Harrison Neighborhood Association, Hmong American Partnership, Vietnamese Social Services, Pangea World Theater, Intermedia Arts, the Loft Literary Center, Asian Media Access, Mu Performing Arts, Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Hmong Arts Resource Connection, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, Korean Service Center, Project for Pride in Living, the University of Minnesota Urban Research Outreach/Exchange Center, Grassroots Solutions and the Minnesota Historical Society. We recently merged with the Laotian Women’s Association to improve outreach to the community.

At a national level, the Lao Assistance Center is strongly connected to the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), the Center for Lao Studies, Asian Pacific Islanders In Philanthropy and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development.

We work with a network of 30 Lao businesses, 16 churches, 3 temples, and media outlets such as Asian American Press, Asian Pages and Twin Cities Daily Planet.

Through programming and its training, internal and external communications, we encourage all of our stakeholders to engage diverse communities on the history of the Lao in the US and Minnesota and to hold dynamic community dialogues stemming from this expanded knowledge of one another.

Our policies and programs are committed to the presentation of diverse voices reflecting a wide range of experiences and perspectives from men and women, young and old, different faith traditions, the GLBT community, veterans, and social and economic classes.

Often, communities are driven by encouragement to speak with one voice, but the Lao Assistance Center feels diversity of opinions and plurality are also deeply essential elements to community building, and that true, positive dialogue must empower many routes to success.


 

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