$4.5 million Kellogg Foundation grant will increase access to Hawaiian Language instruction
ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Inc. has initiated a 4-year project funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation to build Native Hawaiian preschoolers’ school readiness through innovations in academic rigor, teacher development, family resources, and site accreditation.

For 90 years, it was illegal to teach in public school through the medium of Hawaiian language. Legislation passed in 1986 removing that barrier, and in the 25 years that followed, the Hawaiian speaking community has grown from less than 50 under the age of 18, to nearly 5,000. Pūnana Leo preschools are at the base of that system of Hawaiian language schools.

“We are very excited about this wonderful opportunity from Kellogg,” said ʻAha Pūnana Leo president Kauanoe Kamanā. “In order to continue to grow and nurture our young Hawaiian speaking community, we need to ensure that the education being delivered is of the highest quality both in its international academic aspects and in its use of the Hawaiian language and heritage of the Hawaiian language. With this grant, an accreditation process for Hawaiian Language Medium preschools will be developed based in international accreditation principles. Such a Hawaiian language-based accreditation pathway will allow Pūnana Leo preschools to be appropriately accredited and open the opportunity for greater family tuition subsidies through local and state funding that require preschools to be accredited. Expanded qualification of our Pūnana Leo schools for scholarships will then increase community access to our programs.”

As the leading innovator in Hawaiian Medium Education, the ʻAha Pūnana Leo has produced exceptional outcomes for Hawaiian speaking children, including reading skills in advance of peer-level preschools taught through English. For example, children in Pūnana Leo can often sound out Hawaiian words and read short sentences before entering kindergarten.

“This project allows us to take our program to the next level by utilizing broadband communications and online media to strengthen our staff and families. Pūnana Leo teachers and school administration will participate in distance learning Hawaiian language and early childhood education classes taught through Hawaiian. Pūnana Leo families will have resources readily available online to enhance their Hawaiian language learning so that the language can be easily integrated into their homes,“ continued Kamanā.

“The ʻAha Pūnana Leo has done great work in creating environments for rich indigenous language learning—especially in the early years of child development,” DeeJay Mailer, Chief Executive Officer of Kamehameha Schools, one of ʻAha Pūnana Leo’s primary funding partners.  “ʻAha Pūnana Leo schools support families that are using Hawaiian as the home language or have a goal of revitalizing our language.  Research has shown that a strong cultural foundation and family involvement are critical to scholastic and lifelong success in our haumāna.”
The project is funded by a $4,572,370 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. Established in 1930, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa. For further information on the foundation, please visit http://www.wkkf.org

ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Inc. is a nonprofit family-based educational organization administered and operated through the Hawaiian language. The ʻAha Pūnana Leo is widely recognized as being the organization that initiated the Hawaiian language revitalization movement. Committed to providing the community with high quality programs delivered through Hawaiian that align with their vision and mission, ʻAha Pūnana Leo operates 11 preschools on five islands, one infant and toddler program, and co-administers four charter, Hawaiian medium, K-12 sites on four islands.

For more information, please visit http://www.ahapunanaleo.org