On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaiʻi signed a memorandum of understanding, formalizing a new partnership called Hui Hoʻopili ʻĀina, a uniting to commit to supporting all that nourishes the mind, body and spirit.
“This represents a commitment between both institutions to advance Native Hawaiian student success, including through post secondary education,” said UH President David Lassner. “To advance our understanding and propagation of ʻIke Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian language, culture, and protection of the environment.”
“You know what is really important for us is this partnership, a partnership with the University of working together towards our common goals,” said Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong. “We have a lot going on with the university but having a purposeful partnership where we are working together for Native Hawaiian student success is critical for us.”
Setting the path forward
The agreement is the result of more than a year of work by representatives of both institutions that began in March 2014. A summit was held four months later in July that covered numerous areas, including early college success, past and current partnerships and common goals. The effort led to pilot initiatives and multiple follow up meetings and discussions.
The day after the signing of the memorandum of agreement, a second summit was held. Attended by more than 75 leaders and representatives from both organizations, their mission was to set the path forward.
“Two powerful organizations like Kamehameha and like the University of , coming together, to put basically the muscle of our organizations and our good thinking around how do we support Native Hawaiian students to go on to post secondary, knowing how crucial that step is to their life long success,” said Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni, executive strategy consultant, Kamehameha Schools.
Six key initiatives
Working groups made up of administrators and faculty from both organizations are now focused on six key initiatives:
- Early college programs like the model that currently exists at Kamehameha Maui, where students earn college credits in high school, is now being developed at Hilo and on Oʻahu.
- A collaboration on Kamehameha’s Mōʻiliʻili redevelopment project focused on designing a culturally rich and educationally and economically viable community at the gateway of the UH Mānoa campus.
- Data sharing that will help develop a greater understanding of student pathways by identifying and eliminating barriers and success gaps.
- Living Learning Labs that will include ʻāina and site-based learning laboratories to encourage and support Native Hawaiian science and Aloha ʻĀina.
- ʻIke Hawaiʻi that will advance and strengthen expectations and the future workforce, increase access and support and achieve normalization of the Hawaiian language.
- Financial Aid and Student Persistence that will ensure wrap-around support for undergraduate students to complete their degree programs in four years.
Said Maenette Benham, dean of UH Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, “What I think that people need to understand is that we do have a diverse group of folks working on important questions, and we hope that within the next year to two years, that we will begin to see results.”