Scholarships, Grants Spur Native Hawaiian Education

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Grants for Native Hawaiian programs totaling $69 million have been awarded to seven University of Hawaii campuses.  The money comes from federal Title III funds given by the US Department of Education and will be used to support renovation and individual development awards for the next five years.

The campus receiving the largest grant, $14.2 million, was the University of Hawaii West Oahu, while the Manoa campus received almost $9 million for Native Hawaiian Education Program grants for the next three years.

The Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge received nearly $7 million, reports Lorin Eleni Gill of Pacific Business News. Hawaiinuiakea School will use the funds for classroom and lab renovations, native student learning programs, tutoring resources, leadership development, internship programs, and faculty. Windward Community College will use its $10 million for STEM programs and a Hawaiian language-based child care facility for WCC families.

The University of Hawaii System News reports that Michelle Kam, who is working on early childhood education, would not be able to afford to support her family and go to school. Because of Native Hawaiians scholarships, thousands of students who would otherwise not be able to attend an institution of higher education, have the opportunity to do so.

“In 2008 the Board of Regents embraced the University of Hawai’i’s mission to serve as a model indigenous serving university,” said UH President David Lassner. “These grants individually will advance the priorities on each of our campuses. But across the entire university system, they really represent the opportunity to deliver on that mission and advance our service to Native Hawaiian people, culture and knowledge.”

Not only colleges and community colleges are reaping the benefits of these grants, but other education programs and institutions that serve Native Hawaiians are receiving assistance also, . Twenty million dollars has been set aside by the DOE for non-profits, foundations, and a health organization. The areas of focus include school readiness, STEM education, Native Hawaiian culture, and language and college success, writes Alia Wong of Honolulu’s  Civil Beat.

“Many in our Native Hawaiian communities face unique challenges in gaining a higher education,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in a statement. “We must make sure the federal government continues to do its part to identify and tackle some of the obstacles standing in their way. These investments will go a long way in providing our children with the opportunities to learn in a unique, culturally sensitive way and help them reach their full potential.”

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has also stepped in, launching the THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund to better prepare Hawaii Island students to master STEM subjects and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy. TMT’s founding gift of $1 million marks the beginning of the construction phase of astronomy’s next-generation telescope on Mauna Kea, the world’s most advanced telescope.  TMT’s THINK Fund initiative benefits Hawaii Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million over its existing 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

According to an article in Big Island Now, the University system will be holding free workshops to assist  native students obtain AHA Financial Aid. The workshop is targeted at Native Hawaiians interested in attending college, and are interested in applying for aid, and  learning about scholarship opportunities.

“It’s a coming together of scholarship agencies and organization who believe in the value of college for every person in Hawai’i,” said Judy Oliveira, Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

Bringing opportunities to Native Hawaiians in under-served communities who want to receive a college education has become a statewide initiative, as the University of Hawaii’s ongoing mission is to create opportunities and transform lives.