The COVID-19 pandemic did much more than curtail the academic year and graduation celebration for Hawaiʻi’s 2020 high school seniors. In addition to disrupting lives and families’ incomes, many graduates’ plans for college and work were derailed as well.
To help public school students explore and be prepared for career options, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the Hawaiʻi Resilience Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, The Clarence T. C. Ching Foundation, Strada Education Network and the Stupski Foundation together helped fund a new UH and Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education summer onramp initiative called, “Next Steps to Your Future.”
“We are so grateful to the many donors who quickly partnered with us to help our graduating seniors who spent the final quarter of their K–12 careers at home,” said Stephen Schatz, executive director for Hawaiʻi P–20. “Many of the students didn’t have the support they needed to develop plans and take steps towards college, job training programs or employment. Thanks to our partners’ philanthropic investments, we are able to provide free personalized support, and help students gain essential skills and successfully transition to their post-high school plans."
In addition to the personalized supports, almost 1000 students are also participating in free Next Step: Career Exploration UH Community Colleges summer onramp courses. These online courses help students learn about career options and focus on their goals while earning college credits. They will also be eligible to apply for Stronger Together Hawaiʻi Scholarships at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.
“The high school graduating class of 2020 persevered in the face of incredible adversity in their personal lives and education. With this multifaceted Next Step initiative we can help them stay on track,” said UH President David Lassner. “Hawaiʻi needs every one of our young people to be a part of planning for our shared future and how they will each contribute to taking care of their families, their communities and these islands that are our home.”
Bryson Maghinay a Kailua High School graduate, decided to enroll to “keep myself on my toes academically” “It helped ease me into a college environment. So now, when I do actually start community college, I’m more comfortable,” Maghinay said.
“The kind of work that we are doing helps me with college,” said Annicah-Marie Hong, a Pearl City High School graduate. “It’s also helping me to find the kind of person I am, so that I can gear myself towards a career that will be best for me.”
Cathy Ching, trustee of the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation said, “We believe this summer on-ramp initiative will provide the necessary guidance and support for the Class of 2020 high school graduates as they look to their future endeavors.“