The impetus of the Hmong Language and Cultural Enrichment Program (HLCEP), a 6-week intensive program, first came to light when a few Hmong parents in the Madison area networked and discussed their children’s academic skills. Lack of cultural support available at schools and low self-esteem were identified as key barriers to their children’s low academic success. “If our schools do not teach the Hmong history and experience to our students, it our responsibility to do so if we want productive citizens,” said one parent. Another parent added, “Did you know that 93% of our Hmong students in Dane County read below grade level according to the WKCE test?"

Data from the MMSD K-12 shows that our Hmong students are falling far behind in reading and math. In reading, 93% of Hmong students read below grade level. In math, 74% of Hmong students perform math below grade level. HLCEP’s summer program last year, on average, elementary students increased their knowledge of reading and writing in Hmong from 23% on their pretest to 67% on their posttest, an increase of 44%. Middle school students increased their knowledge from 42% on their pretest to 88% on their posttest, an increase of 46%.

Click to see the MMSD K-12 data:

MMSD K-12 Data

The dialogue snowed ball and Hmong parents became aware that their children were not getting enough exposure to the Hmong culture, language, and traditions at home and school. These parents witnessed a fast-pace of assimilation into the American culture. Besides the low academic skills of their children, they fear that, someday, their kids will not know what it's like to be Hmong.

Mai Zong and Peng organized and formalized the parental concerns by bringing parents together. A group of 45 parents, Hmong professionals, and children met in late March 2013 to discuss a community effort. As a result, through the leadership of some parents and Hmong college students from UW-Madison, the Hmong Language and Cultural Enrichment Program (HLCEP), an intensive (8 hours/day) six-week summer program, was born. A total of 31 students registered and 26 successfully completed the first program held on June 24, 2013 to August 2, 2013.

Mission and Values


Developing productive citizens and leaders by understanding their cultural heritage.


Our goals are achievable. In promoting our mission, we strive to create a safe and healthy learning environment for Hmong students to enhance students’ academic skills and prepare them for college. Our goals are the following:

  • Learn their roots (history and refugee experiences).
  • Expose students to their culture and traditions.
  • Learn their native language (written and oral).
  • Expose children to Hmong college students - their role models.
  • Have fun while instilling pride and confidence.


Our values are the fundamental principles we use to achieve our mission of enhancing students’ academic skills by developing strong identities.

  • We believe that children who grow up with a strong identity and confidence will most likely become productive citizens and give back to society.
  • We believe that all children deserve a supportive and positive learning environment where they can learn about their roots—their heritage, culture and refugee experiences in order avoid unnecessary identity crisis in middle and high schools or even in college.
  • We believe children/youth must have a healthy experience growing up in today's society as a Hmong child.
  • We want to assist children/youth’s understanding of both the Hmong and English language—having both languages is a benefit to themselves and to their community.
  • We believe that Hmong college students are influential educators and role models for our children/you.
  • We believe in investing in the fruits of our labor—our children and college students are our future tax payers and community leaders.

Partners and Donors


We are so thankful for having partners who share our mission and gave their all to HLCEP! With you by our side, we can accomplish and achieve our goals.

  1. The Center for Resilient Cities donated their facility, giving our students a place to call home in the summer.
  2. The Badger Rock Middle School loaned us use their classrooms & equipments.
  3. Hmong college students from UW-Madison donated their time to run the program and be positive role models for our students.
  4. Hmong parents volunteered their time to cook Hmong lunches for the students.


HLCEP would not be possible without the support from all donors. Your financial support goes towards the operations of HLCEP -- staff salary, supplies, lunch and snack, field trip transportation, and scholarships. Thank you for your support!

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