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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kamehameha eases financial load

By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer

  • The pilot program provides need-based tuition assistance to kindergartners entering a non-Kamehameha private school.

  • The first phase of the pilot project will be implemented over three years and will contribute $1.2 million in scholarships to about 240 kindergartners per year for three years.

  • Scholarship recipients can renew their scholarship each year, based on financial need and academic progress. Scholarship amounts are capped at $6,000 annually.

  • The next round of scholarship applications will be available in January 2009. For more information, visit www.ksbe.edu/finaid or call 534-8080 or 541-5300.

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    Kamehameha Schools will commit an estimated $47 million over the next 15 years to help send Native Hawaiian students it cannot accommodate on its campuses to more than 60 private schools throughout the Islands, Kamehameha officials said yesterday.

    Under the new Pauahi Keiki Scholars Kindergarten program, 240 students each year for the next three years will receive up to $6,000 annually toward tuition at a participating private school. Students will be able to renew their scholarship each year they are enrolled at a private school.

    That means once all 720 scholarship recipients graduate from high school, Kamehameha will have contributed more than $47 million over 15 years.

    The pilot program will run for three years, with a possibility of expansion or renewal following its completion, said Rod Chamberlain, vice president for campus strategies.

    "In our own (campus) kindergarten programs, we have 1,600 applicants a year for 160 openings. We said, what are we doing to help these families with other choices if they don't make it into our campuses," Chamberlain said.

    Private school officials are welcoming the new collaboration with Kamehameha Schools, which was established by the 1884 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and educates children of Hawaiian ancestry.

    The scholarship program developed out of a five-year-old collaboration between Kamehameha Schools and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. The collaboration sought ways to "broaden access" to private education, Chamberlain said.

    Betty White, headmaster of Sacred Hearts Academy in Kaimuki, said 11 scholarship recipients have been accepted to her school next school year.

    "This is very innovative," White said. "To me, it is a win-win for everybody," she said.

    White said the school has been involved with Kamehameha's Pauahi Keiki Scholarships program, which provides need-based scholarships for 3- and 4-year-olds to attend preschool.

    "Kamehameha does not just shell out the money, but has developed criteria that will keep parents involved in the life of the children and their school," White said.

    The new scholarship is being awarded based on need, and participating private schools are being asked to provide matching financial assistance to families, Chamberlain said.

    The amount of money families can contribute based on income and other financial factors is also being taken into account when deciding how much each student receives.

    Kamehameha officials say the new scholarship is a way to reach more Hawaiian students than are currently served by one of the school's three campuses.

    The trust said in December that it had reached more than 35,000 Native Hawaiian children and families in the 2006-07 fiscal year, up 27 percent from the previous year. Of that, only 5,400 were students who attended one of the Kamehameha campuses.

    The other 30,000 participated in a wide variety of programs ranging from classes for expectant parents to college scholarships funded by Kamehameha Schools.

    Chamberlain said the scholarship is also a way to reach those students with the highest need. Twenty-five of the participating private schools are in rural communities on Maui, the Big Island and Kaua'i with tuitions less than $6,000.

    Priority for scholarships is given to applicants who have financial need and who also live in communities with a predominate Hawaiian population.

    "We're asking, how can we help as many kids as we can right now, as opposed to spending four or five years building significantly large campuses that serve fewer students," he said.

    While the new scholarship is being run as a three-year pilot project, Chamberlain said there is a possibility that the program could be expanded.

    "As we learn lessons, we'll make modifications to improve it," Chamberlain said.

    Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.