Inspiring Students To Reach Their Goals

By Julie Morikawa, founder and CEO, ClimbHI

On April 25, ClimbHI, a local nonprofit (501c3) organization, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, launched LEI, an inaugural workforce development project for 300 high school students from economically disadvantaged areas on Oahu.

Julie Morikawa

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Julie Morikawa

Specifically timed near Lei Day, LEI represented an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration and Inspiration from the student’s perspective. And from the hospitality industry’s perspective, LEI provides an opportunity to Lead, Expose and Inspire Hawaii’s youth. The daylong program began at Hawaii Convention Center. After a morning of leadership, hospitality and cultural training from industry leaders, the students separated to visit 10 different participating hotels. The students then returned to the convention center for a career fair showcasing the many different jobs in the hospitality industry, along with relevant college/university programs.

More than 35 businesses and 60 volunteers participated in the event. To get involved in next year’s LEI, please contact me at More information about LEI can be found at or on Facebook at

ClimbHI seeks to inspire students to finish high school and proceed to post-secondary educations or employment by educating them about future career paths and the process necessary to achieve those goals. ClimbHI’s mission is to provide people education through the exploration of life’s opportunities, and to foster learning by partnering and working with businesses, educational institutions, and other governmental, private, profit, and nonprofit organizations, entities and individuals that promote and further the purposes of the corporation.

As shown in the photo, ClimbHI’s board is comprised of young and passionate leaders in Hawaii: Jennifer Chalaire of John Hancock Financial Network; Rob Bertholf, ClearlyM chief strategist; Lisa Tomihama, First Hawaiian Bank vice president; Julie Morikawa, Expedia Inc. director market management; and Anthony Suetsugu, attorney at Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda.

For more information on ClimbHI, to find out how to get involved or to make a donation, please visit