Stand Up for THE BUG

By Stephanie Yang, HIP Organizer

Stephanie Yang, LBHS Class of 2006

Stephanie Yang, LBHS Class of 2006

Growing up in South Sacramento, vandalism and theft were daily occurrences. Community parks and gardens that I would go to as kids were often vandalized and deteriorated over time because no one ever came to help repair or restore it. The city did not care and sadly neither did our community. In recent years, Luther Burbank High School (LBHS), my alma mater, has started to turns things around. Students and teachers at Luther Burbank came together to build a beautiful urban garden that gave students an opportunity to cultivate their plants and provided a space for social emotional healing. Recently, the Burbank Urban Garden, affectionately referred to as the BUG, has been plagued by a series of thefts and vandalisms that damaged the hard work students and staff put into their urban garden. Whereas before, the community may have turned the other cheek or ignored the issue, I am thrilled to see community members, students, School Board Trustee Vang and LBHS officials come together to rebuild and replace plants and tools that have been stolen. Our communities will not improve unless we take ownership of it. As a LBHS alumni, I am so proud to see the accomplishments of the Burbank Urban Garden and will do my part to stand up for students, urban gardens, and our community. Together with Hmong Innovating Politics, I will be donating to the Burbank Urban Garden and hope you will join me in supporting this important cause.

Rest in Power Neng

By Nancy Xiong, HIP Organizer

I am sadden by the sudden lost of such a passionate and intelligent young person in Neng Thao. I grew up in the Central Valley and having celebrations by the river is nothing new. When temperatures climbed over 100 degrees, the first thing you want to do is take a dip in the water. No one in our family owned a swimming pool and our community didn’t have a public pool so the river was our only option for water recreation. As much as my siblings and I enjoyed the water, we actually didn’t know how to swim and the few that did were self taught novice swimmers. My parents discouraged us from being near the water and warned us of the ‘dragon’ in the rivers and lakes that would take us away from them. Much of their fear stemmed from close relatives losing young children and teenagers as a result of drowning in lakes and rivers. Years later, as an adult, I am still trying to overcome my fear of being in the water.

These tragedies are not separate from the conditions of our neighborhoods and the lived environments our young people endure on a daily basis.

I wish tragedies like Neng’s were isolated but the rise in injuries and fatalities coincides with the rise in temperature. Every summer, we hear of family members or community members who suffer this same tragic fate. More often than not, these individuals come from low income communities of color. This is not a coincidence. Many of the neighborhoods we live in lack safe quality recreational spaces. Our young people do not have the resources to sign up for private swimming lessons.  Access to community pools are often limited because of local budget cuts or located on the “other side” of town inaccessible by public transit. These tragedies are not separate from the conditions of our neighborhoods and the lived environments our young people endure on a daily basis. Moreover, river drownings are entirely preventable but outreach and education are poorly financed and rarely target communities of color. We cannot and should not ignore this reality.

This fall, Neng was suppose to attend UC Berkeley and join the Cal Bears family. He was a youth advocate in Fresno and dedicated his young life to fighting for his community. All the HIP organizers are heartbroken but we can’t imagine the pain his parents and family must be going through. To help cover the cost of Neng Thao’s funeral, HIP will be contributing to the family’s GoFundMe. Please join us in helping lift the burden for his family in this time of need.

Rest in Power, Neng.

How Will Repealing Obamacare Impact Southeast Asian Communities?

Because of Obamacare, more members of our refugee community have health coverage than at any time in the history of being resettled in the United States.
— Cha Vang, HIP, Executive Director

Full Transcript

California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA)

Statement by Cha Vang, Hmong Innovating Politics

Good Afternoon Chairperson Ramakrishnan and Members of the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs. My name is Cha Vang and I am the Executive Director of Hmong Innovating Politics, we are a Sacramento based grassroots organization whose mission is to empower Hmong, Southeast Asian and other historically disenfranchised communities through civic participation, voting, and advocacy.  

Before I provide updates on the status of Southeast Asian American health outcomes and their access to care, I want to take a moment to express our sincere appreciation for the Commission’s support of disaggregated data for communities previously ignored or left out of government reporting. We applaud you for recognizing the immense diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and for taking a stand against the misinformed, frivolous and ignorant rhetoric used by those who would rather disregard the challenges our communities face.

Without continued advocacy in support of disaggregated data it would be impossible for me to report on the tremendous progress our state has made in increasing health coverage for Southeast Asian Americans through the Affordable Care Act and the decision of our State to expand Medi-Cal coverage. Our progress has been staggering! According to the American Community Survey, among Cambodian Americans in California, the uninsured rates have gone from 21.4% in 2011 to 6.7% in 2015. Among Laotian Americans 19.1% to 9.3%. Among Vietnamese Americans from 15.8% to 5.2% and among Hmong Americans from 18.9% to 7.9%.

While health coverage for Southeast Asian Americans increased significantly in large metropolitan areas like Orange and Los Angeles County, tremendous gains were also made throughout the Central Valley including Merced, Fresno, San Joaquin, and right here in Sacramento County. To be clear, there are still significant opportunities to address health disparities that threaten our community--including increasing access to culturally and linguistically skilled physicians, advancing health education and prevention to curtail chronic diseases, and improving access to mental health care. But I think it is important to point out that because of Obamacare, more members of our refugee community have health coverage than at any time in the history of being resettled in the United States.

Unfortunately, because our communities have benefited so much from the Affordable Care Act--we also have much to lose with its repeal. Under the American Health Care Act, Southeast Asian Americans throughout the state will be uniquely devastated by this policy because of our high levels of income and access inequality. Thousands will lose Medi-Cal coverage as the federal government restricts funding and places more of the fiscal burden on California’s already volatile General Funds. Southeast Asian American small businesses will go back to forsaking coverage for themselves and their employees as tax breaks will evaporate. Thousands will face higher premiums, receive less tax-credits to help pay for insurance, and receive less coverage for what they are paying for. Thousands of people with pre-existing conditions will be at risk of being denied coverage or priced out of so-called “high risk pools.” Family members will risk their own health in delaying seeking care until their health reaches crisis levels. Elders, like my mom, will see the Medi-Cal portion of their Medicare dual-eligibility shrink--forcing higher out of pocket costs and discouraging vulnerable communities from seeking the care that they need. The risk is particularly acute in the Central Valley, home to California’s largest Hmong population, where the Center for American Progress anticipates 210,000 Californians will lose coverage.

During these xenophobic and volatile political times, HIP urges the Commission to play a leading role in preserving and improving health outcomes for the API Community along with All Californians. Specifically, we offer these three recommendations to support our communities:

First, we believe that the commission can play an important role in shaping the narrative around the individuals that will be harmed by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In the last month, HIP partnered with Community for a New Californians to phone bank community members and collected over 150 stories of families who are willing to share their experiences and challenges. Elevating these narratives, talking about the advances we’ve made, telling the stories of our families helps put pressure on all those that voted to take coverage away from our communities.

Our second recommendation is to encourage the commission to engage with young people and create opportunities youth leadership. In California, the median age for Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islanders is considerably lower than the overall Asian American community. There is a new generation of leaders ready to take the mantle in pushing for greater equity and social justice. We say this because we have on the front lines working alongside tremendous youth here in Sacramento who are passionate about improving the conditions for their community.

Finally, since we are at the California Endowment, it would appropriate for this recommendation which is to encourage the commission to #StayLoud for an accurate and properly funded Census. In the past, this commission played a critical role in educating Californians and advocating for a complete and accurate count of our communities. Unlike any other time in recent memory, the Decennial Census is under attack. The 2020 Census must overcome drastic budget cuts, the resignation of the Census Bureau Director and the decision to move the census questionnaire online without adequate resources for outreach and engagement. The commission must take a strong position on the Census by advocating for additional resources at the federal level and on-going community engagement on the state level.

I sincerely thank you for your time and encourage you to follow-up HIP on Facebook and Instagram at @hipsacramento.

Hmong Women Empowerment Summit

despite having to overcome cultural and institutional hurdles, hmong women continue to make incredible strides in shaping the industries and communities they are a part of.  while many are reaching new heights and breaking glass ceilings, many barriers persists to equal opportunity, authentic empowerment and self-reliance. 

according to the us census, in the hmong community, women make up 53.6% of millennials and 66.3% of elders 65 and older.  thus, hip is partnering with local organizations to highlight the tremendous achievements of hmong women, to initiate an intergenerational dialogue about the current state of the hmong community and provide a voter empowerment clinic to ensure hmong women of every generation are civilly engaged. 

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meet the speakers

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where: fruit ridge community collaborative (4625 46th street)

when: october 1 @ 2pm (doors open at 1pm)

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hosted by:

hmong innovating politics (hip)

hmong women today

uc davis community campus relations

Governor Brown, it’s your turn! Sign AB 1726 into law.

The fight isn't over yet, we still need Governor Brown to sign the bill. If you would like HIP to send a letter of support (see sample below) on your behalf, please fill out the form.

Dear Governor Brown;

I am writing to sincerely ask you to sign Assembly Bill 1726 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta into law. AB 1726 would shed light on health disparities within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and ensure that our communities receive the services and support they need.

As Governor, you have established a strong precedence of valuing evidence based practices and making sound public policy decisions. In that same spirit, AB 1726 will provide the Department of Public Health with data and wisdom on how to allocate taxpayer dollars  efficiently and effectively to serve communities that need resources the most.

Asian American and Pacific Islanders are made up of more than 50 diverse ethnic groups. When data clumps us all under “Asian,” it can overshadow the specific challenges faced by Southeast Asian American, Pacific Islanders and refugee communities. In California, the economic, health, and educational data of 5 million Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander and families is not accurately collected to reflect their unique challenges. As such, state agencies are not equipped to address the needs of California’s increasingly diverse population.

For example, one of the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) primary program areas focuses on providing comprehensive public health education about chronic diseases like diabetes. This is an important program for all Californians but in particular, AAPI communities as research conducted by the American Diabetes Association has shown that Pacific Islanders, Asian Indians and Filipinos have higher rates of diabetes compared the general population, other races and other Asian subgroups. Unfortunately, the lack of disaggregated data prevents administrators and policy makers from assessing the impact their programs have on communities who suffer from the highest prevalence of diabetes. AB 1726 makes it possible for CDPH to more effectively deploy its resources to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.

Finally, we recognize your stated reservations about further stratifying communities. Unfortunately, stratification is already taking place in the growing health disparities and negative health outcomes that undermine the quality of life for different Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups. Moreover, while we agree with your belief that “focus on just ethnicity may not be enough;” the absence of ethnicity data makes for poor public policy and harms communities who need the most support.

Thank you for your consideration of our communities and I urge you to sign AB 1726.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Dear Governor Brown, Please Support Ethnic Studies (AB 2016)

Dear Governor Brown,

On behalf Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), we join with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, educators, students and community members across the state to urge you to sign AB 2016 into law. Unlike last year’s AB 101, this year’s bill, AB 2016 was developed in coordination with the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and would provide additional information and resources to educators to teach ethnic studies courses to their students.  Specifically, AB 2016 would allow the IQC to develop model curriculum as a guide for school districts and schools that choose to offer an ethnic studies course to reflect the unique experiences of the students in their communities.

California is home to one of the largest Hmong American populations in the United States and largest resettlement of refugees in the world. Unfortunately, the current high school curriculum does not even mention the role Hmong and other Southeast Asians played in aiding the United States Military during the Vietnam War and the Secret Wars in Laos and Cambodia. Moreover, the current curriculum makes no mention about the massive exodus of Hmong, Mien and other Southeast Asian refugees to the United States as a result. In line with your veto message for last year’s AB 101, we made several attempts to provide guidance and feedback to Signing AB 2016 would allow students to learn from a curriculum that reflects their own histories and help them gain a better understanding of about their respective culture in the context of California’s history.

Developing ethnic studies programs in all public high schools is an integral part of cultivating a classroom environment that is accepting of diverse cultures. It is vital for young people to learn about their history, but also important for them to feel like they can change their communities in positive ways. This bill will help close the achievement gap by reducing student truancy, increasing student enrollment, reduce dropout rates and better prepare Californian youth to be college-prepared and career-ready.

Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP) is a grassroots-organizing group whose mission is to strengthen the political power of Hmong and disenfranchised communities through innovative civic engagement and strategic grassroots mobilization. We envision a Sacramento of empowered communities that thrive in a socially and economically just democracy.

If you have any questions regarding AB 2016 and communities it would affect, please do not hesitate to contact Hmong Innovating Politics at hmonginnovatingpolitics@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully,

Nancy Xiong

Hmong Innovating Politics, Organizer

Southeast Asian Community urges UC Davis Health System to renew the Medi-Cal contract

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 12, 2016 Contact: Nancy Xiong | 209.829.9358

Sacramento, CA – On Friday afternoon, Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP) stood in solidarity with Senator Dr. Richard Pan and local health advocates to urge UC Davis Health System to bring back primary care services for low-income families in Sacramento. By ending their Medi-Cal managed care contracts last year, UC Davis Health System abandoned 3,700 Medi-Cal patients throughout Sacramento County without access to care.  According to the 2015 US Census, 18.1% of Sacramento residents are below the federal poverty line. Sacramento’s most vulnerable communities already face many barriers when it comes to accessing primary care.

As HIP Organizer Cha Vang describes, “The choice to reject Medi-Cal patients is about priorities and values. By sacrificing low-income families and children to achieve short-term fiscal savings, the health system must now deal with a surge of much more expensive urgent and emergency care patients. More importantly, families no longer have access to the basic coverage they need to live healthy lives. As a public institution, we hope UC Davis Health System will re-prioritize local residents and reconsider their decision to end their Medi-Cal contracts.”

UC Davis Health is world renowned for its culturally and linguistically appropriate care. Sadly, its decision to reject Medi-Cal patients leaves those that need culturally and linguistically competent care the most are now longer able to access those services. In particular, Hmong, Mien, Lao and Khmer community members have come to rely on UC Davis Health language services and programs. Thus, HIP urges UC Davis Health System to renew the Medi-Cal contract so families in South Sacramento can receive the care they need.

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Celebrating the WoMentors in Our Lives.

With Women's history month coming to a close, the HIP Organizers wanted to take some time to thank the womentors that helped each us get to where we are today. 

Cha & Youa

Cha & Youa

Youa Yang

(BY: Cha Vang)

Youa Yang is my mom.

I picked my mom as my womentor because she's beautiful, courageous, thoughtful and damn sassy. She raised her kids as a single mother most of my life and she has always put others first. She is my support and strength in everything I do. I am the woman I am today because of this wonderful woman. If I could be half as great of a woman as her, I would be happy.     

The most important lesson I've learned from my mom is that goodness always win in the end.  It doesn't matter how others treat you, you should always treat others with goodness. 

As a woman, it's important to have a womentor who can be that proud woman role model. Someone who can share and empower young girls and women with lived gender experiences. 

Marilyn & Nancy

Marilyn & Nancy

Marilyn Wong

(BY: Nancy Xiong)

Marilyn Wong is the founder and coordinator for the Asian American Pacific Islander Health Research Group (AAPIHRG) that I was a part of at UC Berkeley. 

I choose Marilyn because she understands the importance of mentoring first generation college students. Marilyn is a very resourceful person and always goes above and beyond to help you succeed. She's also the type of person who will open up her home and prepare a warm meal on your worst days. Meeting Marilyn was the tipping point for me to pursue a career in Public Health. It was my first year at Cal and I felt like the classes I took didn't resonate or connect with what I was truly passionate about. She encouraged me to do research in my own community and helped me realize the importance of gathering data especially for a community that didn't have much data to begin with. She really spearheaded this research group and put AAPI health on the map at Cal.

She taught me that social justice intersects with EVERYTHING and that your age doesn't affect your ability to create change. 

As a Hmong American woman, I didn't have professional mentors to look up to. Having someone show interest in your development and career goals was something new to me. I didn't know it was possible to have someone (outside of your family) care enough to want you to succeed. Having a womentor like Marilyn really helped me with my transition into college and helped shaped the impact I wanted to make in my community. For me, it's really about having those opportunities available and they rarely exist for students of color. Marilyn provided me with those opportunities and provided a space where I could flourish and succeed. 

Laura & Lyia

Laura & Lyia

Laura Vu

(BY: Lyia Jalao)

Laura is my partner in crime.

We worked on similar social justice projects in college. She brought me into the Sacramento social justice fold (and HIP). Laura taught me the value of patience and kindness.

Understanding my own feminine perspective and how that informs my political POV.

 

Doua & Jonathan

Doua & Jonathan

Doua Thor

(BY: Jonathan Tran)

Doua Thor, a Hmong daughter of refugee parents who escaped the Secret Wars in Laos, is the Executive Director for President Barack Obama's White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Typing that sentence is pretty surreal but incredibly powerful because Doua has always been a trailblazer--paving the way for others. Doua was my first Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and developed into a very dear friend. I chose Doua as my womentor because she's mentored so many young people and because she carries herself with such compassion and courage.

Back in 2009, Doua took me into the SEARAC family during a dark period of my professional career. She rebuilt my confidence and handed me the reins to the organization's California operations. Doua understood how to develop and grow young people on her team--giving us the room to make our own mistakes and offering us guidance or comfort to get us through uphill battles. She always conducted herself with such warmth and compassion--especially to those who are often overlooked. 

I can be hotheaded sometimes, so I learned so much from Doua's steady demeanor. She gets pissed off just like the rest of us, but she channels her anger with such power and grace--it's inspiring. It's okay to be angry but you better have a damn plan for how you unleash that energy. 

Having strong Southeast Asian American women in our lives is at the core of developing strong Southeast Asian American men. I'm so blessed to have Doua as my womentor. 

Hmong Parents & HIP Organizers Ready to Serve on Local Education Committees

LCAP Advisory Committee Members Phoua Lee (SBA Parent) & Mai Yang Vang (HIP Organizer)

LCAP Advisory Committee Members Phoua Lee (SBA Parent) & Mai Yang Vang (HIP Organizer)

HIP is proud to announce that two local Hmong parents and three HIP organizers will serve on Sacramento City Unified School District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Parent Advisory Committee and English Learner (EL) LCAP Advisory Committee.

The LCAP Parent Advisory Committee and EL Advisory Committee are charged with reviewing the District’s overall vision for students, annual goals and specific actions the District will take to achieve the vision and goal. Susan B. Anthony Elementary parent Phoua Lee was appointed by Boardmember Diana Rodriguez and HIP Organizer Jonathan Tran was appointed by Boardmember Gustavo Arroyo to serve on the LCAP Advisory Committee. HIP Organizers Mai Yang Vang, Laura Vu and parent Leng Cha were each appointed to serve on the EL Advisory Committee—a subcommittee specifically focused on highlighting priorities for English Learners and their families.

Last year, despite being the only Southeast Asian American on the Advisory committee, former HIP Organizer Sue Vang worked with Latino and Hmong English Learner parents to help provide specific recommendations to the Board on how to invest more resources to improve academic achievement for English Learner students.

 

Read last year's LCAP Recommendations

I’ve come to realize through this process is that it is not enough to just to advocate for my own children. By being more involved, parents can help improve conditions for all kids and raise the bar throughout the District.
— Phoua Lee, Susan B. Anthony Parent

This year, HIP Organizers and our Hmong parents hope to build on last year’s work and raise the level of parent engagement on the LCAP throughout the District. As Phoua Lee describes, “As a parent, obviously I want what’s best for my kids. What I’ve come to realize through this process is that it is not enough to just to advocate for my own children. By being more involved, parents can help improve conditions for all kids and raise the bar throughout the District.” HIP Organizer Jonathan Tran adds, “It is a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and lament about disparities in the education system. HIP believes that the community must become active participants in making sure dollars are spent in the classroom to uplift students that need the most support.”

Like last year, HIP is asking for your help and feedback about what you think the District’s priorities should be. To stay up-to-date about HIP’s on-going parent engagement work, we invite you to join HIP’s Parent Engagement Network.

Both Advisory Committees meet monthly and meetings are open to the public. 

HIP Joins Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality Network

HIP is thrilled to announce that we just joined the Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality network!

AACRE is a network of Asian American social justice groups with shared values that are working to create positive change. AACRE will serve as an incubator for HIP-- making it possible for us build our infrastructure, develop resources and reach a wider audience. HIP becomes AACRE's first network partner outside of the San Francisco area. 

As HIP Organizer Nancy Xiong describes, "Change doesn't simply happen because of good intentions and ceremonial speeches. It takes hard work, infrastructure and resources to empower communities that have been disenfranchised. HIP is ready to take this important step in our maturation as we continue to build capacity and further establish our legitimacy. We wholeheartedly believe in the values AACRE stands for and we can't wait to stand alongside our new coalition partners."

Starting today, HIP will also be able receive direct donations from our supporters as a 501c3 non-profit organization. You can help support HIP by being among the first donate here:

We also join an amazing network of progressive organizations that includes:

  • APEX Express is a weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of the community.  The show is produced by a collective of media makers, djs, and activists and airs on Thursday at 7 p.m. on KPFA 94.1FM.
  • Asian Prisoner Support Committee works with Asian and Pacific Islander prisoners to educate the broader community about the growing number of APIs in the U.S. being imprisoned, detained, and deported.
  • The Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, works to educate, organize, and empower the Bay Area South Asian communities to end violence, oppression, racism and exploitation within and against diverse communities.
  • Asian Pacific Islander Equality – Northern California advocates and organizes for fairness and equality in the Asian and Pacific Islander and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer communities.
  • Chinese for Affirmative Action aims to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. CAA advocates for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial injustice.
  • Hyphen is a news and culture magazine that tells the stories of Asian America, beyond identity, featuring emerging artists, thinkers and doers. By documenting and disseminating these stories, Hyphen contributes to the ever-expanding, multifaceted narrative of Asians in America.
  • Network on Religion and Justice for Asian and Pacific Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People is working to nurture and support efforts toward a fully inclusive Asian Pacific Islander faith community.
  • A national portrait + video project dedicated to the Queer Asian American Women, Trans, and Gender non-conforming communities, the Visibility Project breaks barriers through powerful imagery and storytelling.

HIP would like to express our sincere appreciation for Vincent Pan, Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action for his vision, compassion and leadership. Last but certainly not least, HIP would like to thank John Fong, Monna Wong and the rest of the AACRE Leadership Team for helping us with the logistics of joining the network. 

“Change doesn’t simply happen because of good intentions and ceremonial speeches. It takes hard work, infrastructure and resources to empower communities that have been disenfranchised. HIP is ready to take this important step...”
— Nancy Xiong, HIP Organizer

HIP Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Affirmative Action

Earlier this week, Hmong Innovating Politics joined with over 160 Asian American and Pacific Islander groups in filing an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court in support of the University of Texas' race-conscious admissions policy (Fisher vs. University of Texas II). In the Amicus Brief, advocates argue that institutions of higher education cannot evaluate applicants holistically without consideration of race. HIP has consistently held that race-blind or race-ignorant policies ignore the unique barriers and challenges applicants have had to overcome in order to obtain access to higher education. Moreover, race-ignorant policies mask the significant disparities that exist within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. For example, in Sacramento County, only 16.4% of the Hmong community has a Bachelors Degree or higher, compared to 28% of the total population and 30% of Whites. (Source: United States Census Bureau. 2011-2013 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates)

Here in California, race-ignorant policies like Proposition 209 are correlated with significant drops in admissions of students of color and the stagnation of educational attainment rates for historically undeserved populations. By ruling against the University of Texas's affirmative action policy, the Supreme Court would prohibit the use of ethnicity, effectively masking the Southeast Asian American community's immense diversity and significant educational disparities. 

For more coverage on Fisher v. University of Texas II, check out these links:

We believe that acknowledging and reducing educational disparities created by institutional and historical racism is essential for communities to truly thrive in a socially
and economically just democracy.
— HIP's Amici Curiae Statement on Fisher v. UT

New Maple Community Center Breathes New Life

They tried to bury us.
They didn’t know we were seeds.

By Nancy Xiong, HIP Organizer

Early this month, HIP joined La Familia Counseling Center for the 10th Anniversary of the Sacramento Hispanic/Latino Parade. On a street more known for its traffic, seeing families and children lined up along Franklin Boulevard was a welcomed change. This parade celebrated Sacramento’s deep-rooted Latino heritage and the stubborn resiliency of our South Sacramento community. 

Before the Sacramento City Unified School Board voted to close Maple Elementary and 6 other neighborhood schools in a controversial 4-3 decision, the vibrant campus was full of colorful laughter and supported by passionate parents. For those families, Maple was more than just a school. It was a place where they felt they belonged. It was a place they took ownership of because it represented hope for a better future. I thought to myself during the final tour of Maple Elementary, 'is this really it?' I felt frustrated because this community had endured so much and instead of celebrating Maple's tremendous parent involvement, the District shut the door on this incredible community. I wondered, what can we do to transform this space so that it will continue to meet the needs of our South Sacramento community? 

For two years, this campus sat completely vacant until this past July when La Familia signed a lease to officially take over Maple Elementary.  Maple Elementary is now re-opened as the Maple Neighborhood Center where it will serve as La Familia’s headquarters and resource hub for families.

Our community deserves a place to gather, grow and prosper. As a Mexican proverb states, "They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."

Meadowview Neighborhood Comes Together

In late August, Organizer Mai Yang Vang and other HIP organizers joined with Darryl Lucien and members of the Meadowview Neighborhood Association and Cabrillo Park Neighborhood Association to empower residents to take charge and take ownership of their community.

Here's what Mai had to say about why neighborhood empowerment and walks matters:

"The only way to rebuild & revitalize neighborhoods in our community is through resident-driven solutions. We can't wait for others to come and organize our neighborhood and community for us. Change at the neighborhood level happens when we have empowered families and residents work towards a common goal to improve their community. We are our own inspiration. We are our own community care takers. We can accomplish so much more when we work collectively with our neighbors to envision a stronger community.  I bought a home in this area and I'm not going anywhere. By knocking on doors, getting folks involve and empowering neighbors to take action on issues they care about, we can change South Sacramento, one house and one block at a time."

We are our own inspiration. We are our own community care takers. We can accomplish so much more when we work collectively with our neighbors to envision a stronger community.

8 Interesting Facts about the Aftermath of Sac City's School Closures

1.  4 out of the 7 closed schools have re-opened.

In January 2013, Sacramento City Unified School District and former Superintendent Jonathan Raymond proposed the closure of twelve (12) neighborhood elementary schools. Of those twelve, five (5) were quietly taken off the closure list prior to the final vote on the 'wrong-sizing' proposal. In February 2013, only a month after announcing the proposal, the Board voted to close seven(7) neighborhood schools in a controversial 4-3 decision.

In the two years since the school closures, 4 out of the 7 campuses have re-opened either as a charter school or a community center.

2.  Joseph Bonnheim re-opened as a Community Charter School.

 

The first school site to re-open was Joseph Bonnheim Elementary. Immediately following the closures, parents, teachers and community members came together to save their neighborhood school. To keep their school open, the community needed to come together to establish a community charter school. A small but incredibly passionate coalition of community leaders and parents raised money, passed around petitions and developed an organic proposal to re-open the school as a dependent charter. Finally, in 2014, the New Joseph Bonnheim (NJB) Community Charter opened its doors to a new cohort of students. NJB remains the only public school in Northern California with a special emphasis on agriculture. A week ago, NJB celebrated its second year and we're thrilled to see students back at Bonnheim.

3.  La Familia finds new home at Maple Elementary.

 

For over 40 years, La Familia Counseling Center has been a fixture in the South Sacramento community and a hub for Sacramento's Latino community. In recent years, the expanding number of staff and the growing need for services among Sacramento's diverse populations made LFCC's location on Fruitridge Road feel a bit cramped. In July 2015, LFCC confirmed a lease for Maple Elementary School to convert it into their new headquarters. By moving their main office to Maple Elementary, LFCC is better situated to expand its world-class services to the Maple and South Sacramento community.

4.  Washington Elementary re-opens in Midtown.

 

The only closed school outside of South Sacramento was Midtown's Washington Elementary. During public testimony to oppose the school closures, one Washington Elementary parent remarked, "it doesn't make sense to close a school in a community that is growing tremendously. More and more families are moving into the area and we will need a neighborhood school to call our own." As it turns, she was right. With the population in Midtown exploding and new developments being built throughout the Downtown area, the need to re-open Washington became apparent when neighboring schools became overcrowded. With the help of Board Member Jay Hansen (who originally voted to close Washington) and Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen (no relation), Washington Elementary will re-open in 2016 as a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) school.

5.  Community Collaborative adopts Fruit Ridge Campus.

 

One of the most beautiful locations in all of Sacramento, the Fruit Ridge Community Garden was at risk of being closed following the closure of Fruit Ridge Elementary. Thankfully, in July 2015, the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative took over the campus and re-opened it as a community center to provide a range of community services including health and wellness, yoga, meditation, cooking classes and daytime activities for adults and seniors. According to their Facebook page, organizations have begun moving in and FRCC will open its doors sometime in Fall 2015.

6.  Three schools remain closed.

 

C.P. Huntington - A suggestion to re-open C.P. Huntington as a Camellia Waldorf Charter school was discussed; but as of September 2015, no formal proposal is in place.

C.B. Wire - The District converted the campus of C.B. Wire into a kitchen and food warehouse. No plans have been proposed to re-open the campus.

Mark Hopkins Elementary remains shuttered without any proposals to re-open the campus. HIP conducted a community survey to document the needs of the Mark Hopkins and Meadowview community. It can be found here: Mark Hopkins/Meadowview Community Survey Results. 

7.  Hundreds of students left SCUSD after closures and never came back. District LOST millions of dollars as a result.

 

When it was initially proposed, the District claimed that their closure plan would save $1.1 million (less than 1% of the total budget). This figure never materialized as more than 400 displaced elementary students left and never came back to the District that rushed to close their neighborhood school. (Source: SCUSD Planning Department. SCUSD Analysis of Students Gained and Lost Between 2012/13 and 2013/14). To make matters worse, the vast majority of displaced students were low-income, English-learners--a group that double qualifies under the State's new funding formula for education funding. Instead of saving money, the decision to close seven neighborhood schools ended up costing the District millions in new LCFF education funding. Closing neighborhood schools did little to stabilize the District's budget and exacerbated its declining enrollment.

8.  How are the students doing now? No one really knows.

 

Much has changed since the vote in February 2013, including the appointment of a new superintendent, two new school board members and multiple senior staff transitions at the District level. Lost in the midst of all these changes is the status of the students who were kicked out of the neighborhood schools. How are they doing? How have they adapted to their new school? Are they getting the support they need to succeed? In the aftermath of the closures, SCUSD failed establish an accountability system that tracked students to ensure they receive the additional support they had been promised. 98.7% of the students that were displaced by the closures were students from low-income families and 2 out of every 5 students displaced was in English-Language Development. Multiple studies have shown that these students are most at-risk of falling behind in the event of a school closure.

To learn more about the school closures in SCUSD, check out HIP's archives: Wrong-Sizing