OHA awards $1.5 million to charter schools

Students participate in class project at Kanu o ka ʻĀina Learning ʻOhana in Kamuela. Photo: Alice Silbanuz

HONOLULU (August 18, 2014) – Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have awarded a $1.5 million grant to charter schools with a special emphasis on Native Hawaiian language, culture and traditions.

The OHA grant is expected over the next year to help the 17 Hawaiian-focused charter schools, which make up the Nā Lei Na'auao, cover expenses from teaching and feeding students as well as transporting them to school.

The OHA grant to the alliance comes at a time when Hawaiian-focused charter schools are scrambling to keep pace with growing enrollment, which climbed this year to 4,224 students from 4,033 students a year ago.

The grant also reflects a top priority at OHA to increase the achievement levels of Native Hawaiian students. Since 2010, OHA’s Board of Trustees has approved $7.5 million in grant money for Hawaiian-focused charter schools.

“Our support for Hawaiian-focused charter schools is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s future,” said OHA Chairperson Colette Machado. “We are extremely encouraged by the efforts of Hawaiian-focused charter schools.”

Meahilahila Kelling, director of Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau, a kindergarten through 12th-grade charter school in Kaneohe, expects the OHA grant to provide the alliance with a much-needed boost in the 2014-2015 school year.

“We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the OHA trustees and staff,” Kelling said. “OHA's continued investment in the Hawaiian focused public charter schools will help us to further our missions and positively impact Native Hawaiian youth.”