The Center on Disability Studies (CDS), in the UH Mānoa College of Education (COE), was awarded $4.8 million by the U.S. Department of Education Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP) for the 2023–24 school year. Over the next three years, funding totaling more than $15 million will support five CDS projects serving Native Hawaiian students and educators focused on STEM education, post-pandemic impacts, postsecondary education, and employment pathways.
Project Hoʻokuʻi VI: E Hoʻomau, which was awarded $1,116,445, supports Native Hawaiian, at-risk, and gifted and talented students as well as students with disabilities transitioning from high school to college and certification programs. The project aims to increase enrollment in postsecondary degree and certification programs leading to employment in fields where Native Hawaiians are underemployed.
“Last year, we had record number of project participants graduating from high schools statewide who achieved their A.A. degree before they finished high school,” said CDS Associate Specialist Lisa Uyehara who serves as the project’s director. “We hope to double those numbers next year, and this new award allows us to continue to work towards our goal.”
Ulu A‘e Transition 2.0 (UAT2), which received $934,124, seeks to improve the academic and Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) achievement of at-promise Native Hawaiian elementary, middle, and high students and their teachers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic by building the capacity of HIDOE schools and initiatives. Through experiential, culturally-relevant curricula and activities, the project will produce short videos that document the skills and knowledge gained.
Sara Ka‘imipono Banks, UAT2 Director and CDS Junior Specialist, said, “Since the early 1970’s, I have realized that television, and now the Internet and social media, influences how we see ourselves and perceive others. I am passionate about teaching our youth to produce messages or videos that are for the greater good of humanity and to become ethical producers of social media and discerning consumers that question what they watch or read.”
Project Ka Pilina Noʻeau Hoʻomau, under the direction of CDS Associate Specialist Kiriko Takahashi, was awarded $1,078,282. The goal of the project is to improve Native Hawaiian PreK–5th grade students’ math and science outcomes with a special focus on students with disabilities and those at risk, using a holistic, culturally-responsive, integrated STEM out-of-school intervention. The project will enhance reading and literacy components and build lessons to better reach underserved students and students with disabilities.
“This is our fourth iteration that started out based on teacher and community needs,” Takahashi said. “We are thrilled to be able to continue this work that serves students, teachers, parents and the community at large. I am grateful for all of our partners and our team members, including Jerica Manoa who is our Co-PI who started on our project as a graduate student!”
Alanui a Hōkūlani Project, which aims to increase Native Hawaiian youths in postsecondary STEM pathways, received $916,211. Integrating up-to-date technology, the project will provide professional development for educators and training for families and employers; organize community outreach activities; and create a resource center for Native Hawaiian youth.
“This marks the third funding award for Hōkūlani,” said CDS Associate Professor Hye Jin Park who serves as the projectʻs director. “We appreciate the generosity and trust of the Native Hawaiian Education Program. With this grant, we can enhance program delivery efficiency, allowing us to serve more students and better meet their needs.”
Kūlia Support-Mohala Project addresses the needs of at-risk Native Hawaiian youth by intensively supporting them to overcome pandemic-related learning losses and develop the skills and habits needed to achieve success in postsecondary education. The project, under the direction of CDS Assistant Specialist Eric Folk, will receive $834,009 for year one.
“We are thrilled to continue our commitment to support Native Hawaiian students and educators in various critical areas of education and employment pathways,” said CDS Interim Director Lauren Lum Ho.