Project Hoʻokuʻi  will help high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors meet the academic qualifications to participate and succeed in the Running Start and Early Admission college programs. Running Start and Early Admission are statewide partnerships between the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) and the University of Hawaiʻi system that provide an opportunity for academically qualified juniors and seniors to begin their postsecondary education while still in high school.

  • Mentoring

    Mentoring on cultural, academic, and career issues: Cultural mentors will provide support including, career exploration, completion of college and scholarship applications, and financial aid forms.

  • Instruction

    Individualized computer-based accelerated instruction program in reading and math – College tutors will provide support using this program after school, on weekends, and during school hours to assess and support academic gains in reading and math.

  • Tutorial Services

    College tutors will provide tutoring on reading, writing, and math skills, COMPASS placement test (the UH System placement test) preparation, and assist students to access online tutoring services on University of Hawaiʻi (UH) campuses.

  • Financial assistance

    For participants who are qualified and wish to attend early college but do not qualify for any financial assistance, Project Hoʻokuʻi may cover tuition, tutoring, mentoring, books, and transportation.

Project Goal

To increase enrollment of Native Hawaiian students in postsecondary education or in postsecondary education certification (PSEC) programs leading to employment. This will occur through the provision of interventions to help Native Hawaiian high school students enroll in two dual enrollment programs (Running Start and Early Admission) and successfully accumulate college course credits during high school.

Goals illustration


Funding illustration

Project Hoʻokuʻi is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Program, through a competitive grant process. PR/Award #: S362A140067.


The end of the project goal is to create sustainable change and further increase Native Hawaiian student participation in postsecondary education. Part of the sustainable change is to provide opportunities for Native Hawaiian students to gain access to postsecondary education by building their confidence and skill levels. By encouraging and supporting their awareness of the connection between postsecondary education, and their Native Hawaiian culture, traditions, values, and community, Native Hawaiian students will continue to participate in education beyond secondary school. It is the hope of the Project Hoʻokuʻi team that the methods used will be adopted by teachers and counselors to sustain this progress by the end of the grant funding period.

Final Goal Illustration

Collaborating Partners

  • John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence

    The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NHCOE) seeks to improve the health of Native Hawaiians through education, research, and community initiatives that enable Native Hawaiians to successfully pursue careers in medicine and other health professions. NHCOE is part of the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

  • Hawaii Department of Education

    The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) serves the community by developing the academic achievement, character and social-emotional well-being of students to the fullest potential. HIDOE works with partners, families and communities to ensure that all students reach their aspirations. HIDOE cultivates, advances, and draws from Hawaii’s rich traditions and Native Hawaiian host culture.

  • ALU LIKE, Inc.

    ALU LIKE, Inc. is a nonprofit organization for Native Hawaiians. ALU LIKE, Inc. has assisted Native Hawaiians in their efforts to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency for over 30 years. Incorporated in 1975 as a private, non-profit service organization, ALU LIKE, Inc. remains committed to the vision and mission of its founders.

  • University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, Online Learning Academy

    The University of Hawaiʻi’s Online Learning Academy (OLA) provides FREE, one-on-one math and science tutoring, by highly-qualified college tutors, for all Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) students state-wide. Students can log into our online tutoring room Monday through Friday, 9am to 10pm and Sunday, 5pm-10pm for help with classwork and/or homework.

  • Mālama ʻAinā Field Studies

    The Waiʻanae Mālama ʻĀina Field School at Nānākuli is a summer school course based at Nānākuli High & Intermediate School (NHIS) for students entering grades 8 – 10.  The primary goal of the course is to strengthen students’ core skills in science, math, and English/language arts by connecting them to the ‘āina and their culture.

  • GEAR UP Hawaii

    GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, is a federal program funded by the U.S. Department of Education whose mission is to significantly increase the number of low-income middle and high school students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Partner Colleges


University of Hawaii, Maui College (Molokai)

University of Hawaii Maui College Outreach Molokai Education Center


University of Hawaii, Maui College


University of Hawaii Maui College Outreach Lanai Education Center


  • Dr. Kelly Roberts Principal Investigator

    She is a tenured research professor at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, College of Education, Center on Disability Studies and leads Project Hoʻokuʻi. Dr. Roberts has over 20 years of teaching and research experience.

  • Lisa Uyehara Project Coordinator

    She holds a M.A. in political science specializing in indigenous politics and disability rights. She also holds a J.D. and has over 18 years of combined experience teaching in both postsecondary and secondary classrooms.

  • Dr. Hye-Jin Park Internal Evaluator

    She is an associate professor at the Center on Disability Studies. Dr. Park has over ten years’ experience taking the lead on data evaluation and analysis in many projects.

  • Dr. Caryl Hitchock Site Coordinator for the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai

    She has been a long-time resident of Molokai and is an Associate Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.  Dr. Hitchcock is the co-author of ACE Reading for ELL. She holds a M. Phil in Clinical Psychology and a M.Ed in Special Education, as well as a Ph.D. in Exceptionalities from UHM.

  • Maring Gacusana Site Coordinator for the east side of the Island of Hawaii

    Ms. Gacusana holds a M.Ed. and is a former principal. She has numerous years of experience teaching and tutoring students, in addition to functioning as a school administrator.

  • Iwalani McCalla Site Coordinator for the west side of the Island of Hawaii

    She has five years experience as a substitute teacher, part-time teacher and student mentor.  She serves as a substitute teacher for elementary and high school students. Additionally she supports Hawaii Department of Education faculty in mathematics, English, and AVID college preparatory courses. Ms. McCalla is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Contact Us

CDSProject Ho'oku'i — Center for Disability Studies