Growing Our Keiki And Community Together

By Dr. Shawn Kanaiaupuni, director of Public Education Support, Kamehameha Schools

All children on the Waianae Coast are supported, succeeding and connected. That’s Kamehameha Schools’ bold vision for supporting the largest concentration of Native Hawaiians in the world, between Kapolei and Kaena Point. The Ka Pua initiative brings forward focused partnerships and new educational innovations that connect learning from infancy through adulthood.

Dr. Shawn Kanaiaupuni

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Dr. Shawn Kanaiaupuni

All of this work is guided by community voices. Most recently, the Ka Pua initiative hosted five community forums, attended by more than 300 Waianae Coast residents. It was very powerful to see community residents from all walks of life at the forums, from youth to kupuna, who shared their mana’o on a wide range of topics, everything from ‘aina and ocean-based learning to early childhood education, literacy, adult education and mentoring. The community conversations will shape a forthcoming education plan and investments in two new community learning centers.

One of Ka Pua’s investments is already yielding results. New Tech Academies were launched at both Nanakuli and Waianae high schools. With the New Tech approach, students learn all the material they would learn in a traditional high school program through working in teams on real-world projects – solving problems and making decisions – rather than just memorizing facts. New Tech, which is only completing its second year of implementation, has increased attendance rates to 98 percent, increased parent satisfaction by 17 percent and decreased the freshman failure rate by 15 percent.

Students on the Waianae Coast want to go to college. In a recent survey, 85 percent of current seniors on the coast indicated they want to go to college, but fewer than 40 percent of high school graduates typically enroll, and even fewer complete. To address this challenge, Ka Pua has helped catalyze the College Success Council, a diverse collaboration of educational partners working together so every child has the choice, vision and support to achieve post-secondary success.

Ka Pua is but one of the many ways Kamehameha Schools works to expand the impact of Pauahi’s legacy to the children, families and communities of the Waianae Coast and across the state.

To learn more about Ka Pua or receive regular email updates, visit