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The Center on Disability Studies (CDS) in the UH Mānoa College of Education, has been awarded $6.9 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for four of its programs. With focus areas including literacy, math, science, and health, the programs address the needs of Native Hawaiian, Native American, Pacific Island, Hispanic, and other underserved populations in Hawai‛i.

Literacy Through Digital Media K–3 (LDM K–3) will receive $1.7 million over three years from the U.S. Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Program. Under the direction of Sara Banks, LDM K–3 will work to improve the academic outcomes of Native Hawaiian children in Hawai‘i’s elementary schools. Hawai‛i Department of Education (DOE) teachers, Educational Assistants (EAs), and kūpuna will be trained to enhance the language arts experience of K–3 students by integrating culturally relevant technology lessons into instruction. The lessons will incorporate Hawaiian language, culture, history, and values while adhering to reading and writing DOE Common Core State Standards. Three schools in the Windward and Central Districts, as well as the DOE Kūpuna and Kahua Teacher Induction Programs, are committed to participating.

Another U.S. Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Program grant project, Ka Pilina Noʻeau, will receive $1.5 million over three years to enhance and improve the math and science outcomes of Native Hawaiian students. Directed by Kiriko Takahashi and co-directed by Hye Jin Park, the project will develop, implement, and replicate the Math and Science Learning Model (MSL Model). A group of special, gifted, STEM, math, and Native Hawaiian cultural experts will work together to address three priorities – beginning reading and literacy, needs of at-risk children and youth, and use of Native Hawaiian language – with special attention to Native Hawaiian students who are exceptional, or who struggle or excel in math or science.

Project BEAM (Be A Mathematician) will receive $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. The five-year project, also under the leadership of Hye Jin Park and Kiriko Takahashi, will scale up and evaluate a model designed to increase the number of middle school Native Hawaiian, Native American, Pacific Island, and Hispanic students, identified as “mathematically promising.” Researchers in Project BEAM will create a university-based gifted education program for indigenous and Hispanic students in order to sustain the efforts beyond the funding period.

“We are excited about the new projects (Ka Pilina Noʻeau and BEAM) as they both build upon our previous works,” Takahashi said. “We are looking forward to expanding to younger grades and other minority groups.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will award $1.2 million to the Hawai‘i Paraprofessional Training Institute (PTI) over a four-year period. The purpose is to build statewide capacity to train and employ skilled behavioral health paraprofessionals, especially in rural and underserved areas of the State of Hawai‘i. Through Leeward Community College (LCC) and BAYADA Behavioral Health training programs, health and education para-professionals and educators across the state have an opportunity to pursue a Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) credential and/or the Special and Inclusive Education Certificate of Competence (SpEd Cert). Housed at CDS under the direction of Tamara Tom, the PTI is collaborating with LCC and BAYADA Behavioral Health to provide scholarships to eligible individuals who have not attained a bachelor’s degree.

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