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Funding proposed for grant program to develop cultural studies materials for Minnesota schools

If you’re looking for academic materials in Minnesota schools representing the state’s Hmong, Karen, Somali, or Oromo communities, you will likely not have luck.

Sponsored by Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura (DFL-Mpls), HF4902 would appropriate $800,000 in fiscal year 2025 from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund for a competitive grant program to develop school district materials for underrepresented communities, not limited to Hmong, Karen, Somali, and Oromo cultures, as well as cultures without a formal writing system.

The House Legacy Finance Committee laid the bill over Wednesday for possible inclusion in larger legislation.

Cristeta Boarini, program director at 826 MSP, passed around a dozen cultural books written by students in the organization’s young authors book program.

Rep. Ethan Cha (DFL-Woodbury) was moved enough by one book passage to read it aloud. The committee chair, Rep. Leon Lillie (DFL-North St. Paul), said he was temporarily distracted from the proceedings by reading from the books.

It is not possible to purchase such materials from a textbook vendor, said Mouakong Vue, ethnic studies program manager for Saint Paul Public Schools, testifying in support of the bill.


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