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  • Ke A'o Mau Students learning from  'Ôlohe Umi Kai. Photo Credit: Theresa Kreif
  • University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Inc. check presentation

Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Inc. donated $110,000 to establish multiple funds at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.

$35,000 for Hawaii Pacific Foundation Haumana Scholarship Endowment

Supports students pursuing a social work degree, to work in Native Hawaiian communities to strengthen social welfare and social justice.

$20,000 for expendable scholarship fund

An additional $20,000 will create the Hawaii Pacific Foundation Haumana Scholarship expendable fund.

$25,000 to establish the Native Hawaiian Community Asset Fund

This fund supports the hiring of a graduate assistant who will conduct community-engaged work with Native Hawaiian organizations that focus on social justice. The assistant will conduct research in areas of including poverty and its impact on Native Hawaiian families; innovative culturally-anchored interventions for Native Hawaiian child and family welfare; and Native Hawaiian health disparities.

$25,000 to establish the Native Hawaiian Network Fund

This fund supports the hiring of a graduate assistant to identify and enhance the network of Native Hawaiian social workers in Hawai‘i, create a medium for news sharing in this network, compile professional information on agency affiliation and work, and identify innovative culturally-anchored interventions with Native Hawaiians.

$5,000 to establish the Place-based Initiative Fund

This fund supports the development and implementation of a Huaka‘i (“journey” or “path taken”) for students that will increase their understanding and work with Native Hawaiian communities. This initiative reinforces service project learning where students learn from a site and also provide a service to the site/community in return. The Huaka‘i will be a place-based assignment in Ke A‘o Mau, a course on Native Hawaiian i‘ke, values and practices. Possible place-based initiatives include: lo‘i kalo (taro field) and loko i‘a (fish ponds).

Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Inc. Board Chairman Edwin A. Vincent said, “The School of Social Work’s vision, competence of its leaders, programs, and impact on the native Hawaiian community, inspires us! The school’s initiative’s unique focus on enduring solutions is courageous, timely, and will have a positive impact on the Native Hawaiian Community for years to come.” Vincent continued, “These initiatives will inspire change from within the community, develop and educate leaders, and connect them with solutions - all with a special attention on Native Hawaiian wisdoms, perspective, and culture. We are privileged that we can be a part of this effort.”

The mission of the Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Inc., a Native Hawaiian Organization, is to empower Native Hawaiian communities by supporting programs that improve access to opportunities for success that principally serve Native Hawaiians. It furthers its purpose by advancing education; primarily through science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education, and preserving cultural values and practices to inspire hope, strengthen families, foster learning, cultivate leadership, and develop stewardship.

Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work Dean Noreen Mokuau said, “We are deeply appreciative of the support from the Hawaii Pacific Foundation, Inc. to partner with us in building a workforce that is community-based and culturally-anchored, with overall responsiveness to the needs of the diverse populations of Hawai‘i, and with unique kuleana (responsibility) to the needs of Native Hawaiians.  We believe that our shared commitment is a reflection of university-community partnerships that are vital to health and resiliency of Hawai‘i.”

For additional background on the challenges many Native Hawaiians experience affecting life expectancy, and the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work’s efforts to address health and social disparities, please see below.


Figure 1. Life Expectancy in Hawai'i

Figure 1. Life Expectancy in Hawai'i

Health disparities for Native Hawaiians are often linked to social determinants such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and geography.  The social challenges that exist include poverty, homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, and lower socioeconomic status.

In order to address health and social disparities among Native Hawaiians and other groups, the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work is committed to several initiatives.  These initiatives are predicated on the cultural strengths and resiliency among Native Hawaiians which can guide principles and practices for population health.

These initiatives include:

  • Providing scholarships for social work students to strengthen social justice in Native Hawaiian communities,
  • Increasing the workforce capacity of social workers who are trained in Native Hawaiian `ike (knowledge), values and practices through curriculum such as Ke A`o Mau,
  • Conducting research in Native Hawaiian communities in priority areas such as poverty, child and family welfare, health, and gerontology
  • Enhancing the network of Native Hawaiian social workers in Hawai'i.

Questions? / More Information

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.

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About the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work: The vision of the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work is achieving social justice and health equity for the people of Hawaiʻi and citizens in a changing world. Through its mission of the Department of Social Work is to provide educational excellence that advances social work with its focus on social justice. The principal responsibility is the generation, transmission, and application of knowledge for the global enterprise with special attention to Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, and Asian populations in our state and region.

The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.

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