Center on Disability Studies awarded $1.3 million for Native Hawaiian civic affairs project

Project will help educate Native Hawaiian students in civic affairs to improve school performance and employment opportunities

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Helen Au, (808) 956-4949
College of Education
Posted: Sep 25, 2006

HONOLULU— The Native Hawaiian education grant, "Kīwila Civics Curricula Project," developed by the UH Mānoa College of Education‘s Center on Disability Studies (CDS), has been awarded $1.3 million over three years by the U.S. Department of Education.

Led by David Leake, principal investigator and CDS assistant specialist, the project is one of nearly two dozen Native Hawaiian Education programs on Oʻahu, Maui and the island of Hawaiʻi that have been selected to receive more than $1.6 million to develop, assist and expand innovative programs that provide supplemental services and address the educational needs of Native Hawaiian children and adults.

The Kīwila Project intends to increase the proportion of Native Hawaiian youth and young adults who are knowledgeable about and actively engaged in civic affairs as the basis for improving educational and employment outcomes (kīwila is a Hawaiian word meaning "civic, civil"). The project includes developing and field testing civics curricula for students in grades 4, 8, and 12.

"The curricula will be culturally responsive to the needs of Native Hawaiian students and based on principles of differentiated instruction and universal design for effective use with students of all ability levels and learning styles, with a focus on supporting those who are most at-risk of school failure," said Leake.

The project addresses the following authorized activities: meeting the special needs of Native Hawaiian students with disabilities; developing academic curricula that incorporate Native Hawaiian traditions and culture; and conducting professional development activities to improve the ability of teachers who teach in schools with high concentrations of Native Hawaiian students to meet those students‘ unique needs.

The curricula will be designed for use on a quarterly basis and will eventually be incorporated into regular courses, such as social studies and history.

The three schools that have agreed to serve as initial pilot sites are Keaukaha Elementary School (grade 4), Hilo Intermediate School (grade 8), and Hilo High School (grade 12). Each of these schools has a high percentage of Native Hawaiian students, with 90 percent of the students at Keaukaha Elementary, 45 percent at Hilo Intermediate, and 38 percent at Hilo High being Native Hawaiian or Part-Hawaiian. Additional schools with high concentrations of Native Hawaiian students will be included for field testing as the curricula is developed.

It is estimated that by the end of the three-year project, 720 students will have received civics instruction through the curricula. A research design using "test" and "control" groups of students will help determine whether the new curricula has made an impact.

The project is a partnership effort between curriculum developers and researchers at CDS and mentors and cultural experts with ALU LIKE Inc., a non-profit agency providing social services to Native Hawaiians. The partnership will assure high quality curriculum development, field testing, and dissemination of activities.

About the Center on Disability Studies

The Center on Disability Studies in the College of Education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is a University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents recognized center focused upon development and conduct of interdisciplinary education/training, research/demonstration and evaluation, and university and community service. For more information, visit

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