Join a community of passionate leaders who are creating opportunities for kids in Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i is home to a resident population that is one of the most diverse in the world. Native Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Micronesian, Pacific Island immigrants, and mainland white settlers are all represented in the state’s population. While the diverse ethnic mix of people in Hawai‘i creates a cultural melting pot, our host Hawaiian culture underlies all our communities and culture. Hawaiian history is a part of our school curriculum; the Hawaiian flag flies next to our United States flag; and our Hawai‘i anthem is sung proudly along with our national anthem at all major events.
Despite the beauty and vibrant communities on the islands, it is not paradise for everyone. Hawai‘i is largely a middle-class state, with the labor market dominated by the service and hospitality industry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 11 percent of the resident population live in poverty. This includes upwards of 40,000 kids in Hawai‘i or one in eight children, a worsening trend since 2008 when the country was in the midst of the recession.
Hawai‘i public school students’ performance in math and reading has historically trailed the national average, as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress. In 2000 and 2002, only Mississippi and the District of Columbia tested significantly lower than Hawai‘i's average scaled score in fourth grade math and reading. In 2005, just 18 percent of eighth graders in Hawai'i tested as proficient or above in math and 18 percent as proficient in reading. This has improved in recent years with both math and reading proficiency levels for eight graders hovering around 30 percent.
While Hawai‘i still has a long journey to reach the day when all students have access to an excellent education that prepares them to become authentic leaders of our local and global communities, the collective charge to bring about change is stronger than ever. In partnership with schools, communities, and leaders in the public and private sectors, we continue to work each day with hope and optimism for the years ahead.
Hawai‘i students are economically disadvantaged
Teacher vacancies in 2016-2017
Low-income high school students graduated within four years
Four-year public college students were able to graduate within 150 percent of normal time
Office of Hawaiian Education (OHE)
We have proudly partnered with the Office of Hawaiian Education (OHE) to pilot its Nā Hopena A'o (HĀ) framework. Their staff have helped facilitate professional development and service opportunities for our teachers and staff. In turn, our head of program continuum has been able to partner with alumna Paoa Montgomery to assist as HĀ guides during the Social Emotional Learning Summit for West Hawai‘i.
The Kahua Induction Program and Kia'i ‘Āina Kualoloa Program
Since 2014, we have partnered with Kamehameha Schools in West Hawai‘i, specifically with Mahealani Pai and Malia Kipapa. They have helped our teachers deepen or begin to understand themselves in relationship to place, to build relationships, and to orient to community context and culturally responsive pedagogy. They participate in learning protocol, learning from cultural stewards, observation, and reflection, as well as service-learning, and work both at Kahaluu Makai and Maluaka.
In 2017, we were honored to participate in the re-envisioning of the Kia'i ‘Āina Kualoloa program, for kumu (teacher) recruitment and development. In this pilot, cultural practitioners and leaders in the community directly coached a small cohort, comprised primarily of Teach For America alumni from Hawai‘i Island, to approach education from an indigenous lens. The pilot was to be steeped in learning-by-doing and include developing insights and skills in oli (chants), fishing, planting, and the application of powerful ancestral knowledge to modern necessity and innovation.
Our staff have participated on the College Access Committee and played an active role in encouraging our teachers at Wai'anae Intermediate School to participate and recruit students and families to take part in the Pathways to Careers Day college readiness program. Our executive director also serves on the Alignment Advisory Board. Our staff has continued to actively participate in this important community partnership. We continue to promote partnership efforts to our teachers on the Wai'anae Coast to engage students and families, enabling us to connect and collaborate with more partners in the community to better provide all children access to opportunities.