The Lunalilo Scholars Program is more than a financial aid scholarship. It is a transformative opportunity for promising individuals who are financially at-risk. The program offers students the means and personalized support they need to start a new life during their first year of college at Kapi‘olani Community College. Many start the program with little more than a strong desire to work hard and get ahead. Some are near the brink of homelessness, or stuck in low paying jobs without possibilities for career advancement. Once admitted to the program, Lunalilo Scholars gain confidence, peer support, and skills. They begin to see hope, and realize they can take steps to break the poverty cycle, find their purpose, and give back to their community.
The Lunalilo Scholars Program started in 2012 with 21 students. Since then, it has graduated three cohorts, doubled in size, and transformed dozens of lives. Today, more than 50 students are enrolled, and there is a growing waiting list. The Lunalilo Scholars achieve greater success when compared to their Kapi‘olani CC peers: the Lunalilo Scholars take more credits, have higher grade point averages, are more likely to finish the first year and complete the second year.
Lester and Marian Kaneta have pledged $1 million for a challenge grant to help raise funds to sustain the Lunalilo Scholars Program at Kapi‘olani CC, and double the number of students enrolled in this successful program.
Lester and Marian Kaneta started their family foundation in 1999 with a mission “to support children, youth and family ministries that foster the spiritual welfare of the community by giving hope to those in need.” They partnered with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation awarding 600 scholarships valued at nearly $2 million.
In 2012, the Kaneta Foundation launched the Lunalilo Scholars Project in partnership with Kapi‘olani Community College and the University of Hawai’i Foundation to narrow its focus on at-risk youth, who might otherwise face homelessness, no job or career, and a life of hopelessness and despair.
“In our history of donating to a number of outstanding causes, we believe the Lunalilo Scholars Program has proven very successful and extremely rewarding. Meeting the students when they enter the program, following them through the year and witnessing their amazing life transformation is powerful.
We hope that by offering this challenge grant, we will inspire other people and groups to make gifts and have their support matched. Please join us in creating a better Hawai‘i through education,.”
The Lunalilo Scholar students receive one-year of tuition at Kapi‘olani CC, combined with an intensive support system designed to help students overcome many personal and academic challenges. Students participate in a summer bridge program to help them bond with their peer cohort, and prepare for their first year at college. They receive ongoing tutoring, mentorship, financial literacy, skill- building programs, and a range of support throughout their first year.
More promising students can benefit greatly from your generous donation.
$6,000 will fund one student’s participation in the program:
To learn more about the Lunalilo Scholars Program, please contact: