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Lunalilo scholars

Philanthropists Lester and Marian Kaneta have pledged $1 million for a challenge grant to help raise funds to sustain the Lunalilo Scholars Program at Kapiʻolani Community College, and double the number of students enrolled in this successful program. Launched in 2012, the Lunalilo Scholars Program at Kapiʻolani Community College serves and supports financially at-risk students.

Lunalilo scholar Awo

Lunalilo scholar Malia Infiel

Kapiʻolani Community College Chancellor Leon Richards said, “Kapiʻolani CC is constantly striving to increase student success, not just in terms of achieving a degree. Students come from all walks of life, with many real challenges they must overcome. We seek creative ways to engage, excite and motivate students to reach for their dreams.”

“That’s where our special donors Marian and Lester Kaneta come in. With their support, we launched a scholarship program unlike any other. Now with their $1 million challenge grant, we can support more students and their families in their efforts to improve their lives,” said Richards.

“It has been incredible to watch the students gain confidence, taking pride in their ability to succeed on and off campus, and truly changing the trajectory of their lives! When they begin to feel hopeful, they begin to realize they can break the poverty cycle and give back to their community,” said Lester and Marian Kaneta. ”The success rates for these students are outstanding. We are excited to see what happens in the next five years as the program grows through expanded private support and accepts more students. We can’t do this alone and need partners!”

Lunalilo scholar success

The Lunalilo scholars achieve greater success when compared to their Kapiʻolani CC peers—the Lunalilo scholars take more credits, have higher grade point averages, are more likely to finish the first year and complete the second year.

The Lunalilo scholar students receive one-year of tuition at Kapiʻolani CC, combined with an intensive support system designed to help students overcome many personal and academic challenges.

“Many students start the program with little more than a strong desire to work hard and get ahead. Some are near the brink of homelessness, or stuck in low paying jobs,” said Lunalilo Scholars Program Director LaVache Scanlan. “We not only give them tuition support, but we then teach them goal setting, budgeting, and financial literacy so they learn critical life skills, and assist them in applying for grants and scholarships that will pay for the remainder of their college degree.”

Get involved

To help the Lunalilo Scholars Program expand to 100 students go to the University of Hawaiʻi Foundation website and donate online.

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