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MILWAUKEE, November 21, 2022 – The Hmong American Peace Academy (“HAPA”), one of the city’s highest performing schools, today announced that it has received a donation from noted philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott. The gift is part of her latest effort to support organizations working with underserved communities. The $3 million donation is the school’s largest to date and will help HAPA reach its mission of providing students with rigorous academics, character development and Hmong cultural values as they prepare for future higher education opportunities and careers.
“My heart is filled with tremendous gratitude for our abundant blessings including this most generous gift,” said Chris Her-Xiong, HAPA’s founder and chief executive officer. “What drives us forward is the relentless focus we share in building a community of peace builders and lifelong learners who are transforming lives and leading the way out of poverty into a prosperous life of service. This gift continues the momentum that we have built to grow our reach and impact in the community.”
“All that HAPA has and will achieve is the result of hard work and deliberate planning,” said Jason Handal, chair of the HAPA board of directors. “This incredible gift is both validation of our mission and impact, as well as a catalyst to help more students gain the knowledge and self determination to fully realize the blessings of freedom and prosperity their parents and grandparents fought so hard to achieve.”
HAPA opened its doors in 2004 to local Hmong American children who were struggling to succeed in public schools, and to families who felt that their traditions, language, and values would support a culture of achievement. What modestly began as a K-5 school serving 200 students is today one of Milwaukee’s highest performing schools, serving over 1,800 K4-12 scholars. Data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shows that despite 82 percent of students qualifying as economically disadvantaged, HAPA’s academic performance, when compared to all schools in Wisconsin, exceeds expectations. Of the 65 total members in HAPA’s 2022 senior class, 97 percent are enrolled in post-secondary education, with 14 graduates attending University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, eight attending University of Wisconsin-Madison, and others enrolled at Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, New York University, and Stanford University.