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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 26, 2002

Preschool scholarship 'godsend'

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Leona Kalima's 4-year-old grandson is among 198 preschoolers of Hawaiian ancestry statewide benefiting from $1 million in need-based scholarships awarded by the Ke Ali'i Puahi Foundation, a subsidiary of Kamehameha Schools.

The first-time scholarships provide tuition assistance of $500 a month for 10 months at preschools approved by Kamehameha Schools or accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Kalima heard about the keiki scholarship five months ago at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, where she works, and urged her 20-year-old daughter to apply for her son, James. Her daughter was unemployed at the time.

The scholarship has brought stability to their lives, Kalima said.

Her grandson has been attending Kindergarten Children's Aid Association's Muriel Pre-School since Sept. 3, and his mother will perform three hours of volunteer work a month at the school to fulfill a scholarship requirement.

For Kalima, who was struggling to cover tuition at another preschool, the scholarship has been a godsend.

"It was just killing me, because I live paycheck to paycheck," said Kalima, who was paying the $185 difference on James' monthly $565 tuition at Merry-Go-Round Child Care Center, for which the state paid $380. With the scholarship, the difference is $45.

"My grandson loves his new school and is getting ready for kindergarten," Kalima added. "I'm hoping this will stabilize my daughter's situation, too, so she can address her needs in employment training."

The program is a blessing for the Hawaiian community, Kalima added. "It addresses a big need to provide educational opportunities for Hawaiian children that many parents cannot pay for."

Kamehameha Schools CEO Hamilton McCubbin was to speak today at a morning ceremony at Kawaiaha'o Plaza announcing the scholarship program. Other scheduled speakers were Skip Hare, the schools' chief education officer, and Jean Luka, director of financial aid and scholarship services for Ke Ali'i Puahi Foundation.

Reach Rod Ohira at 535-8181 or rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.