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Janis Magin   |   Staff Writer
February 14, 2024
  • Hawaiian hale on campus at WCC

Native Hawaiian Organizations are among the strongest supporters of University of Hawaiʻi programs that benefit Native Hawaiian students and their communities across a broad variety of programs and scholarships at each of the 10 campuses.

More than two dozen Native Hawaiian Organizations have given to UH campuses and programs, with Alakaʻina Foundation and The Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation taking the lead, investing a combined $5 million over the past five years.

These gifts have a direct impact on Native Hawaiian students and are helping to grow a pipeline of Native Hawaiian leaders to address social, economic and cultural issues within their own communities through education at UH’s universities and community colleges.

On Oʻahu, Angilynne Pekelo-Cedillo of Waiʻanae was able to complete her master’s degree in social work at the UH Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health last year with support from The Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation’s Haumana Scholarship. After graduation, she began working for the state Judiciary as a juvenile counselor.

“As a non-traditional Native Hawaiian mother of seven children, returning to school was difficult financially,” she said. “I owe part of my success to people that make up organizations and foundations that invest in people like me.”

On Hawaiʻi Island, Tevita Hala Latu of Hilo is in his second year of studying for a fire science degree at Hawaiʻi Community College with the aid of an Alakaʻina Foundation UH Community College Scholarship. Hala Latu plans to become a firefighter after he graduates and said the scholarship has allowed him to focus on being a full-time student and to pay for books, supplies and materials.

Alakaina Foundation check presentation

Alakaʻina Foundation’s UH Community College Scholarship supports students pursuing degrees or certificates in vocational and technical fields, including the fire science programs at Honolulu Community College and Hawaiʻi Community College.

“I couldn't do it without you,” Hala Latu wrote in a letter of appreciation to Alakaʻina Foundation. “I will prove to you that your investment was well spent. I am currently a 3.8 GPA student and I am motivated to do better. Mahalo, Mahalo, Mahalo for your support!”

Alakaʻina Foundation also supports such programs at Kauaʻi Community College as the Digital Bus Program and scholarships for Kauaʻi CC students transferring to the UH Mānoa College of Engineering, as well as students enrolled in Kaua‘i CC’s Electronics Technology program. It also supported Leeward Community College’s Online Associate in Arts Degree Program with 20 full-tuition scholarships in the 2022-23 school year, allowing working adults to earn a degree with an opportunity to earn their degrees without neglecting their personal responsibilities. Other programs that benefit from Alakaʻina’s gifts include the UH Hilo Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language; Ka Papa Loʻi ʻo Kānewai at the UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge; sustainable food systems scholarship at UH West Oʻahu; the Waianae Moku Summer Bridge at Leeward Community College; and the Ahupuaʻa Scholarship at Windward Community College.

“Our mission is to ensure the young men and women of Hawaiʻi have the skills and competencies they need to be effective leaders in the community,” Alakaʻina Foundation Executive Director Kimo Bacon has said.

Hawaii Pacific Foundation check presentation

The Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation started giving to UH in late 2017 with a gift of $3,000 to purchase bus passes for high school students enrolled in a program at UH West Oʻahu. Since then it has substantially increased its giving with multiple gifts to support the UH Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health, a graduate assistantship and efforts to foster a Native Hawaiian place of learning at UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean & Earth Science Technology, research on Native Hawaiian-English bilingualism in the Linguistics Department at UH Mānoa and various programs at UH West Oʻahu. The foundation’s giving to the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence at UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge included the creation of endowed funds.

Native Hawaiian Organizations are nonprofits that are principally managed by Native Hawaiians and principally serve Native Hawaiian communities. They also have majority ownership in one or more for-profit small businesses that compete for federal contracts under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program. The profits generated by those small businesses are then returned to Native Hawaiian communities through the NHO.

The Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation’s chairman, retired Brig. Gen. Edwin A. “Skip” Vincent, has called it a “symbiotic relationship.”

“Our NHO gives them the attributes and the purpose, and the companies provide us the resources,” he said.

Alakaʻina Foundation and The Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation recently teamed up on a gift to create the Kauka Noa Emmett Auwae Aluli Memorial Scholarship for medical students at JABSOM. The scholarship provides four years of tuition for medical school, with a preference for Native Hawaiian students.


If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.