Twenty-eight-year-old Michelle Kam is a mother of three and the first in her family to go to college. The Kāneʻohe resident is working toward a degree in early childhood education, thanks to various scholarships for Native Hawaiians.

“I have one left in pre-school and it’s very hard to take care of the pre-school bills and go to school,” said Kam. “But with scholarships like these and grants, it makes it possible.”

Ardis Eschenberg, Windward Community College vice chancellor for academic affairs and Windward student Michelle Kam.

Ardis Eschenberg, Windward Community College vice chancellor for academic affairs and Windward student Michelle Kam.

Kam is just one of thousands of students who will reap the benefits of more than $69 million in grants for Native Hawaiian education recently awarded to the University of Hawai’i. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the money to seven UH campuses to support programs serving Native Hawaiians, from pre-school through college and career training.

The seven campuses—UH West Oʻahu, Leeward Community College, Windward Community College, Honolulu Community College, Kapi’olani Community College, Kaua’i Community College and the UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge—received $60 million in Title III grants for renovation and individual development over the next five years. UH Mānoa programs also received nearly $9 million in Native Hawaiian education program grants over the next three years.

“We are so lucky to be serving our Native Hawaiian student population,” said Ardis Eschenberg, the Windward Community College vice chancellor for academic affairs. “And this money gives us the opportunity as a system to serve them in a better, richer and more substantial way.”

“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 an advance our service to Native Hawaiian people, culture and knowledge.”

Windward Community College plans to use its nearly $10 million in grant money to renovate an existing facility to create a Hawaiian-language-based childcare facility for infants and toddlers of Windward students. The funds will pay for the renovation and staffing of the childcare center. Kam intends to pay it forward and support Windward’s childcare center once she has earned her degree. “I felt amazed. I needed to help, for mothers of the future who would like to come to school.”

Other UH campuses with previously awarded Title III grants

  • UH Hilo has two active five-year grants totaling $2.38 million
  • Hawaiʻi CC has two active five-year grants totaling $6.9 million
  • UH Maui College has one active five-year development grant of $4 million

This Post Has 12 Comments
  1. This is great news. However, looking at Windward Community College, is $10 million for a child care center the best use of these funds? Shouldn’t it be spent for WCC students: scholarships, teachers, research, publishing, etc.? A Hawaiian language based school for small kids is a great idea, but a community college should spend the money on things that better fit its mission, which is to provide higher education. In this case, the funds should go directly to better the higher education opportunities at WCC for Native Hawaiians.

  2. Is there any plans for adding gyms at our community colleges and UH west Oahu campuses to promote health and fitness? I think it would be a great investment.

  3. When you say “title III grants for renovations and individual development within the next five years”, does this mean that persons of Hawaiian ancestry can receive grants to attend college besides the Financial aid that they receive already, and if so does this grant only covers courses that is related to Hawaiian related subjects?

    1. I should have put it in a better way, does this “title III” grant for individuals of Hawaiian ancestry only covers the Hawaiian culture and language or can a person receive grants to pursue his or her dreams that is not of the “Hawaiian culture and language”?

  4. It’s important to stay focussed on native education. In daily life we use so much English that the native language kinda gets to the background. Keep supporting native languages worldwide!

  5. To those who want to attend with hawaiian ancestry, look up Wai’ale’ale Grant: It’s opportunities gives you a full ride and individualized support personnel that help you up to your Associates degree. .
    successfully I’m told offered to major hawaiian islands now. -Although I’m not certain it is offered under the same name: Wai’ale’ale Grant. Developed here on Kauai with an so many amazing staff who I fairly see as often now, I can’t tell who to apply with?
    Possibly, searching it’s history at Kauai Community College, you can find help or how to apply to it: best of luck!

    Directing the program on Kauai the was Kimo Perry and Bevin.

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