OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Each year, OHA and its education partners sponsor a series of Native Hawaiian Scholarship ʻAha that are held across the pae ʻāina. Hundreds flock to the ʻaha that connect Native Hawaiian students with millions of dollars in scholarship money to help pay for college.


Strategic Priority: Ho‘ona‘auao

To maximize choices of life and work, Native Hawaiians will gain knowledge and excel in educational opportunities at all levels.

Why is this important?

Ho‘ona‘auao is a top priority for us. A good education remains the fastest way to a higher standard of living. And the need for better education for many Hawaiians has never been more urgent. As a result, we have sharpened our focus on two things: raising significantly the number of Native Hawaiian students who at least meet achievement standards in middle school as well as high school; and increasing by 12 percent the number of Native Hawaiian students who graduate from post-secondary institutions.

To help us achieve those goals, we have been providing resources for the academic pursuits of Native Hawaiians. For example, we have given more than $3.5 million in scholarship money over the past five years to help Native Hawaiian students pay for college in a time of rising tuition costs. Similarly, we have awarded $7.5 million in grant money since 2010 to the Nā Lei Na‘auao – Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance as its attempts to keep pace with growing enrollment. Such outreach is part of a broader effort to help improve education in the Hawaiian community by renewing our commitment to providing resources that ultimately could help Native Hawaiian students graduate college with marketable skills to land well-paying jobs or continue their education.

What is our aim?

  • Exceed Education Standards
    • Increase the percent of Native Hawaiian students who meet or exceed educational standards and who graduate from post-secondary institutions.By 2018, increase the number of Native Hawaiian students:
      • exceeding READING standards from 55% to 65%
      • exceeding MATH standards from 32% to 45%
      • who earn post-secondary degrees or certificates in the University of Hawaii system by 12%

Our research shows us that:

  • A new report by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) Research Department shares highlights on the Native Hawaiian student population in Hawai‘i’s public school system.
  • At 23.3% of the total enrollment, Native Hawaiian students represented the largest single ethnic population in the UH System in the Fall 2018 semester
  • Although there was a slight decrease in 1.7 percentage points from FY2017, the 2,392 degrees and certificates earned by Native Hawaiians in the UH System in FY2018 equates to a 97.8% cumulative increase in the number of total certificates and degrees earned by Native Hawaiian students over the FY2009 baseline.

In SY2014, the Hawaiʻi Common Core State Standards replaced the Hawai’i Content and Performance Standards III. To align with these new standards, the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment was fully implemented in SY2015. Due to this change, results for SY2009-2013 (SBA), SY2014 (part-HAS, part-SBA “bridge” assessment), and SY2015 – SY2018 cannot be compared.

SY2018 assessment test results show that:

  • 38.0% of Native Hawaiian students were proficient in reading, a 3.8 percentage point increase from last year
  • 26.3% of Native Hawaiian students were proficient in math, a 0.4 percentage point decrease from last year

Community Stories

Strategic priority in action: Ho‘ona‘auao

PAE‘ĀINA — If you were to draw up a list of the top priorities at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, improving education in the Hawaiian community would rank near the top.

Just ask Kapo Cope, who is among the hundreds of students who have received scholarship money that OHA awards every year.

“It has actually helped me a lot to further my education to help my family and my community,” said Cope, who graduated in May 2014 with a degree in communications and Hawaiian Language from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. “Without the OHA scholarship, it would have taken me a lot longer to graduate.”

She is an example of OHA’s efforts to approach with a new sense of urgency its commitment to Hawaiian education, which hinges on two goals: increasing the percentage of Native Hawaiian students who meet or exceed reading and math standards at the middle and high school levels; and boosting the graduation rate at a post-secondary level.

To achieve that, OHA has been working closely with community-based partners like Hawai’i Community Foundation, which every year awards 200 OHA scholarships meant to help reduce the financial burden placed on Native Hawaiian students pursuing a college education.

Another community partner has been the Liko A‘e Native Hawaiian Leadership Program at Maui Community College, where students are using OHA scholarships to develop marketable skills in science, technology, engineering and math as well as social work and Hawaiian language.

Such collaborative efforts reflect OHA’s commitment to helping Native Hawaiian students improve their education.

How We’re Doing

Tracking our progress in real time

The data presented below is a snapshot of how weʻre doing in the strategic priority area of Ho‘ona‘auao and is part of a larger effort to provide transparency and improve accountability. To view the full dashboard, please visit dashboard.hawaii.gov/oha.

Providing Resources

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