preschool / poi pounding
photo credit: Honolulu Community College
UPDATE: UH News story about July 6, 2023 news conference
September 2023 Report: Strategies for Systems Change: Lessons Learned from the Transforming Early Educator Lead Teacher Preparation Programs Through Multi-Partner Innovation Grant Program. (see ECE3 on p. 9)

The University of Hawaiʻi (UH) College of Education (COE) and State of Hawaiʻi Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL), in partnership with the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, is launching the Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Educator Tuition Stipend Program for students enrolled in generalist Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs within the UH system.

The Graduate ECE Programs in the COE Department of Curriculum Studies (EDCS) is coordinating the systemwide application process. This includes administering awards and coordinating data on the workforce related to the stipends in collaboration with ECE preparation program faculty on seven UH campuses.

The COE project team includes Assistant Specialist Robyn Chun, who is the Graduate ECE Programs Director; Project Manager LaurieAnn Takeno; and Graduate ECE Programs Coordinator Jaime Lum. Together, they will oversee the stipend program application, awarding, and data collection process.

“This is one of many early childhood education workforce development partnerships that the college is engaged in with the EOEL,” Chun said. “This is part of a larger initiative to develop comprehensive systems of workforce financial support for early childhood educators who are frequently amongst the lower paid wage earners and, as a result, find it difficult to pursue an education.”

Unlike other education students, ECE majors do not have a sustained source of publicly funded tuition stipends. In addition to the Hawaiʻi ECE Tuition Stipend Program, the Graduate ECE Programs have also developed a UH System website with content to assist students and practitioners in the ECE workforce at all levels as well as faculty who may be trying to help students find funding specifically targeted for early childhood educators. The content and support tools will also be used by Student Ambassador program faculty and students who are part of a Hawai‘i Early Childhood Educator Excellence and Equity (Hawai‘i ECE3) Project and U.S. Preschool Development Grant.

“We are especially grateful that the Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation provided a $100,000 seed grant to help start up the stipends program in the first year,” Chun added. “That funding was crucial because the legislature authorized the EOEL to administer the Hawai’i Early Childhood Educator Stipend Program in Act 210 of the 2021 legislative session; however, funds were not provided at that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In this legislative session, there is currently $660,000 in the EOEL budget in the Governor’s Budget Bills (HB 300 and SB 354) that will potentially provide a sustained funding source for students enrolled in ECE preparation programs at all levels systemwide. This funding is vital to addressing the early learning workforce crisis in all sectors, including post-COVID workforce child care settings, Native Hawaiian culture-based and Hawaiian Language Medium early learning programs, and in Public PreK expansion proposed in Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke’s Ready Keiki initiative.

“The funding to sustain the Hawaiʻi ECE Stipend Program is not guaranteed,” Chun concluded. “We need to advocate to legislators for this part of the governor’s budget to be funded so that there will be tuition stipend equity for those working in the beginning of the education continuum.”

Eligible students must be enrolled in ECE generalist certificates, degrees, or license programs on one of seven UH system campuses, maintain a C or better in coursework, and work in a position in the early learning system as described in HRS §302L-2 for two years after matriculation.

Stipend Application is now open. Deadlines:

  • Summer 2023 tuition – application due April 15, 2023

  • Fall 2023 tuition – application due July 15, 2023

  • Spring 2024 tuition – application due December 1, 2023

  • Summer 2024 tuition – application due April 15, 2024

Resources / Financial Aid

Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL):

Hawaiʻi ECE Tuition Stipend Program:

Hawaiʻi ECE Tuition Stipend Video:

COE Early Childhood Education (ECE) Funding:

UH System Early Childhood Credential Funding:


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