Ulu Aʻe Transitions

Ulu Aʻe Transitions Logo

Project Dates

2021 – 2024

Funding Source

USDOE Native Hawaiian Education Program


Ulu A‘e Transitionsis a Native Hawaiian Education grant project that will provide engaging strategies proven to improve academic achievement for Native Hawaiian students through experiential, relevant curricula and hands-on video production. Aims include improving the academic and HĀ achievement of at-promise students by focusing on strengthening resilience as a way of supporting successful navigation of students transitioning from Elem to Middle, Middle to High, and beyond. The project is primarily partnering with schools in the Castle Complex of the Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s Windward District.

“This project supports students to strengthen their sense of belonging as they transition from one school to another. A sense of belonging and personal resiliency is essential for the academic achievement, character, physical, and social-emotional well-being of all our students to achieve their fullest potential.”  Sara Ka‘imipono Banks

Castle Complex school based teams will work with project staff to implement activities that use a wide range of proven strategies to support youth including:

  1. Introducing culture-based lessons that have been demonstrated to positively impact students;
  2. Facilitating student engagement and leadership;
  3. Supporting field based experiences;
  4. Integrating technology into courses/classes to improve 21st century skills; and
  5. Building positive relationships and inter-connections among students, families, educators, and schools.

Ulu A‘e Transitions also provides support for the annual E Ola Pono Campaign which challenges students to work together on activities or projects that promote pono as a “Way to Be.” E Ola Pono means to live with respect for and in harmony with everyone and everything around you. The annual Campaign is a cultural response to bullying in schools where student groups are encouraged to actively “Grow Pono” to create a more welcoming and safe environment for everyone at their school.

Student led projects and campaigns have proven to be the most effective and powerful initiatives to reduce harassment and bullying in schools. Addressing this need in a culturally relevant way based on Hawai‘i‘s host culture provides a foundation that can benefit all people who call Hawai‘i home. To live pono is to always strive to do what is right for others and the environment. The E Ola Pono Campaign offers students an opportunity to positively influence peers and promote a safe, respect-filled school environment. The Hawai’i Department of Education, the Hawai’i Association of Charter Schools, the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools, and the Governor have all endorsed the E Ola Pono Campaign.

Principal Investigator



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(808) 956-9039


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Ulu Aʻe Transitions


  • Alu Like, Inc.
  • Foundation 857, Inc. 
  • Elly Tepper – Teacher Mentor/KAHUA Specialist 
  • Dr. Caroline Sakai – Thought Field Therapy