The Lunalilo Scholars Program at Kapi‘olani Community College empowers students to succeed where many believed success to be impossible. The one-year bridge program nurtures students from underrepresented communities, building a sense of connectedness — to their campus and to each other — while guiding them past many first-year obstacles.
Among these are the costs of attendance, access to technology and childcare, navigating financial aid processes, career uncertainty, and academic challenges. The program alleviates many difficulties where possible, as with first-year tuition and academic tutoring. For other stressors, it teaches students to advocate for themselves with confidence, so that upon their completing the program, they are ready for the rest of their academic journeys.
Short-term intervention for long-term success
For some, the journey leads to occupational certification, associate’s degrees and employment. Other students head to four-year campuses and graduate school. Lunalilo Scholars continue into their second years of college at a rate higher than the rest of Kapi‘olani CC’s first-year students.
“Students in the Lunalilo Scholars program are the most determined I've seen,” says director LaVache Scanlan. “They persevere through challenges we can't begin to imagine, and Kapi‘olani Community College couldn’t be prouder of them.”
One critical element of the program is the support of peer mentors, former Lunalilo Scholars who continue to apply their skills as they work toward degrees. The mentors offer advice, tutoring, and encouragement while serving as yet another connection between students and their university. Additionally, peer mentors continue their own growth in self-advocacy and community-building.
Your gift transforms families and communities
The Lunalilo Scholars program relies on support from donors who embrace the generational transformation provided by higher education when it is accessible to everyone. In addition to relief for tuition and other costs related to attendance, the program’s expenses include peer mentoring, community-building projects and service projects.
The Kaneta Foundation is the cornerstone donor, helping to establish the program as it proved its merits in the early days. Lester and Marian Kaneta have remained steadfast in their support through ten years for six hundred Lunalilo Scholars. And counting.
A decade of dauntlessness
- 600 students enrolled, ages 19 to 68
- 90% Lunalilo Scholars continue in the second semester, compared to 75% of first-year students not participating in bridge programs in UH community colleges.
- 31% are first-generation college students, compared to 20% of first-year students at UH community colleges.
Community service and recreational activities develop Lunalilo Scholars’ sense of belonging as a component of their long-term success.
Kapilialoha Kidder’s father enrolled as a Lunalilo Scholar after witnessing her success. Now a college grad, she says, “I am beyond grateful he has access to the same resources that helped me succeed in my academic journey.”
Marian and Lester Kaneta are the Lunalilo Scholars program's cornerstone benefactors.