Native Hawaiian Education Programs Awarded $8.6 Million


The US Department of Education has awarded a total of $8,610,632 in federal grants to 11 projects in Hawaii to support Native Hawaiian education.

Maui Now reports that the Hawaii Congressional Delegation announced the funding, and each county in Hawaii will have access to the grant money for projects including initiatives to improve academic achievement, strengthen early childhood literacy and readiness programs, assist homeless families, and foster mentorship and academic support programs.

Big Island Now reports that Rep. Tulsi Gubbard (D, 2nd District of Hawaii), a member of the four person congressional delegation, says that the funding to support Native Hawaiian education is an investment in the next generation of Native Hawaiians. She spoke of her recent travels across Hawaii where she visited with Hawaiians who had their lives changed by the Native Hawaiian Education Act’s projects. She believes that the preservation of the rich and unique culture, language, and values of the Native Hawaiian people will be strengthened by the funding.

“By providing support for Native Hawaiian education, we are making an investment in the next generation of Native Hawaiians,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard in a joint press release announcement. “I recently traveled across Hawaʻi and visited with students, parents and teachers whose lives have been impacted greatly by the Native Hawaiian Education Act’s grants and programs.”

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said the money will support the 11 programs and address the needs of Native Hawaiian students through the use of culturally relevant materials and curricula. He added that the people of Hawaii have already seen how a focus on Native Hawaiian education can increase student achievement.

“That’s why I am working to make sure we continue to make investments in Native Hawaiian education programs and give more students a better shot at success,” said Schatz.

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) agreed:

“Native Hawaiian traditions are a core part of our state’s identity and each new generation of students should have the opportunity to learn in a culturally-appropriate way.  This funding ensures that organizations that provide Native Hawaiian focused learning programs have the resources they need to improve achievement of Native Hawaiian students, reach rural communities, and expand Hawaiian language and cultural education.”

The Asian American Press writes that Rep. Mark Takai (D, 1st District of Hawaii) believes the results of the funding will be, in part, that Hawaiian children are prepared to succeed in “today’s competitive environment.” He is anxious for students in under-served communities to be given every opportunity to expand their education opportunities.

“I would like to extend a warm mahalo to the U.S. Department of Education for recognizing the unique challenges that the Native Hawaiian community faces and for taking action to help address this situation.” said Takai.

The Hawaiian delegation has sponsored funding for the Native Hawaiian Education Act (NHEA) annually since 1988. This year, the delegation introduced the Native Hawaiian Education Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 895 and S. 464) to update the program to ensure it continues to support education for Native Hawaiian students. Language to reauthorize the NHEA is included in both H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, and S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, which both reauthorize the larger No Child Left Behind education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Both H.R. 5 and S. 1177 have passed the House and Senate and await reconciliation between the two bills.