The Hawaiʻi State Legislature approved $455,000 for each of the next two fiscal years for a life-changing workforce education and training program called HINET, which stands for Hawaiʻi Nutrition Employment and Training.
HINET provides students assistance that can total more than $4,700 a year for food, transportation, books and other expenses.
290 University of Hawaiʻi Community College students are currently enrolled in HINET at four campuses. The goal with the added funding is to expand to 1,000 students at all seven UH Community College campuses in a year, helping more students to succeed.
UH President David Lassner said, “We’ve done a great job here at UH in working with the [Hawaiʻi State Department of Human Services] and creating a truly win-win program that helps the students that need us the most, with food, with support, with all of the ancillary things that they need to go to college to get the skills they need to get a great job so they can support themselves and their families for years to come.”
Students enrolled in HINET persist, or return for another year, at a much higher rate (72 percent) than the UH Community Colleges overall rate (51 percent). HINET is also helping Native Hawaiians. About 58 percent of the students enrolled in HINET are Native Hawaiian, much higher than the overall percentage of Native Hawaiians in UH Community Colleges (35 percent).
- Related UH News: High-impact HINET helps hungry students succeed, February 10, 2019
“Having HINET to help me with that food cost, it helped me to be able to continue college. It helped me to buy those textbooks that I needed,” said Windward CC student and HINET recipient Bernadette Rose Garrett.
To qualify for HINET, students must enroll at a UH community college and enroll in a workforce certificate training program or take at least six credits in an approved degree program. They must also qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, and HINET can help with the paperwork.
Why HINET started
HINET began operations in 2015 and was developed by the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services in partnership with Windward Community College to reduce the cost of education for Hawaiʻi’s most vulnerable populations and help them to get good paying jobs.
Students in the HINET program may substitute their education and employment training for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 20-hour weekly work requirement. This allows them to maintain their SNAP benefits while pursuing a college education.
Current and prospective community college students are encouraged to visit the HINET website or go to a HINET office on campus.
Help HINET dollars go farther
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses 50 percent of non-federal funds spent in support of HINET. As more state and philanthropic dollars are invested in HINET, more USDA dollars will flow to HINET, helping to reach more students. Donations to support HINET will be matched by 50 percent and can be made by going online to donate via credit card or call (808) 956-8849 if you wish to make a credit card gift over the phone.
—By Kelli Trifonovitch