Bemidji, MN- The Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) awarded a $10,000 grant to the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM) for community engagement work in Warroad. The effort will create a platform for ongoing discussions and community building between Lao community members and organizations in the Warroad area. For example, local agencies may need help explaining hunting and fishing regulations or help with youth interventions; Lao community members hope to connect and share their rich culture with the larger community.

"The schools, law enforcement, human services and elected officials will gain an understanding of Lao culture and find ways to support our Lao community in Warroad," said Sunny Chanthanouvong, LACM executive director. Chanthanouvong has over 20 years of experience working in rural communities where Lao are living and working. LACM will be assisted by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

With the grant, LACM will host discussions and employ a part-time Lao-speaking staff person in the Warroad area. The staff member will help lead the education and outreach efforts to inform Lao community members about their rights and responsibilities as citizens. LACM helps Laotians have a voice in decision-making to get their direct service needs met. The organization serves more than 1,000 Lao community members across the state each year.

"This effort was initiated by Warroad community leaders who want to support the Lao community, which shows that Warroad is ready to create a more open and inclusive environment," said Nate Dorr, NMF program officer for grants. "Hiring a local staff member will help Lao community members organize and connect to Warroad and Roseau County systems. This project is a great example of how the foundation's Community Connections Grant Program can serve as a bridge builder."

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation is a public, charitable foundation serving 12 counties of Northwest Minnesota by investing resources, facilitating collaboration and promoting philanthropy.


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