NHEP Alkoko grant participants

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) faculty members were recently awarded a total of $18 million in Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP) grants. The eight award recipients are Eōmailani Kukahiko, Lois Yamauchi, Hugh Dunn, Hye-Jin Park, Kiriko Takahashi, Lisa Uyehara, Naomi Rombaoa Tanaka, and Eric Folk.

Guided by NHEP’s purpose to develop and expand innovative education programs to assist Native Hawaiians, the three-year COE programs aim to: increase Native Hawaiian representation in education; provide professional development to educators; mentor underserved secondary students; improve writing proficiencies; support at-risk and gifted/talented students as well as students with disabilities; and address the needs of parents, educators, and students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kukahiko, a specialist in the Department of Curriculum Studies, is the director of Hilinehu: Educational Leadership Advancement (HELA). Over the next three years, HELA will work to increase the number and quality of Native Hawaiian graduate level kumu (teachers) and administrators within the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) and UH system.

“A focus on Native Hawaiian students through culturally-focused, co-curricular support will ensure that our communities of Hawaiians who are already invested in education are supported through advanced degree completion, ready to take advantage of opportunities for educational and career advancement and well-prepared to transform our system of public education,” Kukahiko said.

Kuhikuhina Kaulike: Promoting InstruNHEP Kuhikuhina Kaulike grant participantsctional Conversations for Equitable Participation Among Native Hawaiian Students, under the direction of Educational Psychology Professor Yamauchi, focuses on improving education for Hawaiians in schools disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yamauchi said, “I am thrilled to be able to support the professional learning of teachers of Hawaiian students. There is great learning potential for both students and teachers when we value their knowledge and experiences and listen to what they have to say. I am excited to learn from teachers of Native Hawaiians and their students as we collaborate on improving education in their communities.”

Dunn, Program Director of the Pacific Literacy Consortium (PLC) in the COE Curriculum Research & Development Group, is the director of ʻAha Lamakū ʻOiaʻiʻo-Hoʻoikaika Aʻe (ALO-HA):  A culturally-responsive leadership and academic support system designed to accelerate the learning of and expand opportunities for at-risk Native Hawaiian youth. The program will provide strategic mentoring and academic support to underserved secondary students in four secondary schools in Hawai‘i Island’s Ka‘ū-Kea‘au-Pāhoa Complex Area.

ALO-HA is one of many previously funded projects demonstrating a longstanding and exemplary partnership between PLC and the HIDOE,” Dunn said. “The project represents a broader vision of educational approaches and partnerships with key public and private entities. With a focus on mentoring and career preparation, ALO-HA will enrich students’ educational experiences and accelerate their learning.”

Center on Disability Studies (CDS) Associate Director Park is the director of Project Hōkūlani Hui. The goal of the project is to address the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Native Hawaiian youths’ educational opportunities and to increase the number Native Hawaiian students transitioning into postsecondary STEM fields.

Park stated, “Through this project, we hope to contribute to improving local capacity by creating “hui” (groups) at local Native Hawaiian communities on the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi , Molokaʻi, Maui, and Kauaʻi for Hōkūlani scholars to support Native Hawaiian students to enter into postsecondary STEM fields.”

Kākau mea nui (Writing Matters), under the direction of CDS Interim Director Takahashi, will work with K–8th grade teachers to improve attitudes, knowledge, skills, and approaches to teaching writing through job-embedded professional development activities. The project will evaluate the effectiveness of virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face implementation.

“This is a sequel to the original Kākau Mea Nui project led by Dr. Norma Jean Stodden,” Takahashi explained. “We are excited to continue the work that has supported many teachers and students at Waimānalo Elementary and Intermediate School, and we look forward to expanding the project to other schools across Hawaiʻi.”

Project Hoʻokuʻi V: Kūlia i ka nuʻu is led by CDS Associate Specialist Uyehara and builds upon 12 years of research to support the transition of Native Hawaiian, at-risk, and students with disabilities from secondary education to postsecondary education. In partnership with Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, the current project also focuses on gifted and talented Native Hawaiian students.

Uyehara stated, “We will work to create wrap-around supports for gifted and talented Native Hawaiian students to increase enrollment at UH Mānoa. The project will also continue its original intervention model, college preparation, place-based, socio-emotional, and cultural-based learning foundation, working statewide at HIDOE Public, Charter, and Hawaiian Immersion High Schools.”

CDS Associate Specialist Rombaoa Tanaka is the director of the Hawaiʻi Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP): Spark Aloha. H-PEP’s mission is to innovatively address Native Hawaiian parent, educator, and student needs that have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. H-PEP will provide cohorts and workshops to support adult well-being so they may best support students.

“I am humbled and honored that H-PEP has been funded because it means we can continue our important work in Native Hawaiian educator and parent well-being,” shared Rombaoa Tanaka. “Now more than ever, it is time to focus on highlighting strengths and building protective factors against toxic stress. Taking care of our own mental and emotional health is key to being at our best when serving our keiki.”

Nā Hokua: COVID Relief for Increasing the Postsecondary Success of Native Hawaiian Youth with Culturally Responsive Coaching and Mentoring for STEM Pathways, under the direction of CDS Assistant Specialist Folk, will support at-risk youth to overcome learning losses and meet other pandemic-induced needs to achieve college success.

Folk said, “Our team is thrilled to have this opportunity to build on our existing NHEP program capacity including its many system-wide collaborations and partnerships. We will continue to innovate a sustainable and non-duplicative, culture-based support approach and infrastructure that encourages students to expand their career horizons through coaching and mentoring to achieve successful career outcomes in STEM fields.

COE Grant Support Center Director Valerie Shearer said, “We are so proud of all the faculty and staff that worked so hard to submit these proposals within a very short period of time. The College of Education received eight awards out of thirteen that were awarded to the UH System, which truly shows the dedication, passion, and vision that our colleagues have towards furthering Native Hawaiian education from early childhood all the way through post-secondary education.”

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