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L-R: Hye Jin Park and Chuan Chinn

Helping underserved students in gifted education and STEM fields, and increasing family engagement is the focus of newly awarded $8 million in grants to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education Center on Disability Studies (CDS) by the U.S. Department of Education. Over the next five years, two faculty members will work with the students and their families to find ways to address their needs.

Learning opportunities for gifted underserved students

CDS Associate Professor Hye Jin Park received $3.5 million for her project, “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and Twice-Exceptional students Achieving and Matriculating in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (CLD TEAMS),” as part of a U.S. Department of Education Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Grant Program.

The goal of CLD TEAMS is to develop new information to identify and provide services to underserved students in gifted education and STEM fields, particularly Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino high school students with or without disabilities who have potential in STEM in Hawaiʻi, American Sāmoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

“This is our third award from the U.S. Department of Education, and we’re very humbled and happy to continue our efforts to broaden the understanding of giftedness and create inclusive, differentiated, and supportive learning opportunities for students who are traditionally underrepresented and underserved in gifted and talented education programs,” said Park.

CLD TEAMS will provide training in the identification and education of gifted students while promoting equity in student access to educational resources and opportunities. The project will also work to improve the mindsets, cultural competence, and attitudes toward STEM learning, leading to an increase in students entering STEM fields and leadership roles. Parents will be invited to join service-learning field trips and seminars to support their child’s learning and engagement.

Family engagement strategies

CDS Associate Specialist Chuan Chinn was awarded $4.6 million for her project, “Hawaiʻi Statewide Family Engagement Center (HFEC),” by the U.S. Department of Education Parent Information and Resource Centers. The purpose of the center is to promote high impact family engagement strategies, programming and policies that build powerful partnerships among family, school and community to enhance child development and student achievement.

Chinn said, “This is the second round of the Statewide Family Engagement Center award. We are excited for the opportunity to continue expanding and strengthening partnerships with our families, schools, and community-based organizations throughout Hawaiʻi to advance family engagement practices, policies and infrastructure.”

HFEC will continue to expand and strengthen Hawaiʻi’s comprehensive and collaborative statewide infrastructure for family engagement; provide family engagement training and technical assistance that builds effective family-school partnerships in a culturally responsive manner; partner with community agencies to ensure equity of access to educational resources and opportunities; and advance systemic change through cross-agency coordination and community engagement.

Both the CLDM TEAMS and HFEC projects are aligned with the 2022 competitive grants for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program, which underscores the current Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to enhance and increase parent and family engagement in local education.

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