Learning Communities

HEC has formed a collaborative environment where learning communities support the development of local leaders who are connected and committed to their communities.

Ka‘ū Dream

HEC and its partners recognize that a resilient state is built by bolstering one community at a time. The need is most acute in rural communities like the Ka‘ū District, one of the most remote areas in Hawai‘i, with a median income 43% lower than that of the rest of the state.

HEC’s Ka‘ū Dream project involved a plan to revitalize the rural community by creating opportunities in education, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and sustainability. The Global Learning Lab was the model adopted to build resilience by:

  • Develop earning and education spaces for the entire community
  • Creating economic opportunities to keep young talent in the district and honor the region’s cultural heritage
  • Forming agriculture partnerships to encourage agri-preneurship projects and products for the region
  • Building infrastructure, such as reliable high-speed internet service

Ka‘ū high school students who were able to earn college certificates thanks to the Ka‘ū Dream initiative have already begun to transform their lives and contribute to their communities.

Learn more: https://www.kaudream.org/

Hawai‘i Dream

Ka‘ū Dream demonstrated that a multifaceted focus on education, entrepreneurship, and connection to the community, benefits not only students with newfound skills and knowledge, but also fosters community resilience and changes the lives of many people in the process.

Understanding how access to educational and economic support can help to strengthen rural communities, HEC is now engaged in rounding up the resources to replicate the Ka‘ū Dream model to other locations across the state.

Born from the collective buy-in of HEC leaders, ClimbHI Bridge is a comprehensive online tool that makes it easy for educators to connect with businesses through real-world opportunities that can directly benefit students through:

  • Industry-focused classroom support
  • Site visits and other events
  • Career fair and job readiness activities
  • Judging and coaching
  • Advisory boards
  • Guest speaking
  • Internships
  • Jobs
  • Job shadowing
  • Materials and resources
  • Mentorships
  • Project-based learning
  • Scholarships and awards

ClimbHi President Julie Morikawa created this nonprofit organization to educate and inspire high school students about future career paths and the process necessary to achieve their goals.

Since its launch in January 2021, ClimbHI Bridge has reached more than 47,000 students. A total of 3,600 educators from 170 schools (K-Post-Secondary), and 560 businesses have been onboarded … and the numbers continue to grow.

Learn more: https://climbhi.org/

Early childhood learning is vital to the healthy development of all children and their future prospects, and yet 54 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Hawai‘i — approximately 20,000 keiki — are not enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten. Jack Wong of Kamehameha Schools noted at the 2019 Hawai‘i Executive Conference that “if we build preschool seats that the current pace, it will take us 47 years before we can meet the full need.”

In an unprecedented show of unity, dozens of community, business, labor and state representatives introduced a joint package of bills—the 2020 Cost of Living Initiative—that includes wages and tax benefits, affordable housing, and early learning opportunities for keiki. The bill helped to set a common goal of ensuring high-quality preschool for students by 2032. Nonprofits and public leaders across the state continue to refine elements of the strategy, with more assistance from HCF needed to ensure the goal is met.

A group of CEOs and volunteers from the local business community created Movers and Shakas to attract, integrate, and retain professionals (including returning kama‘āina) who could contribute their talents to growing and diversifying the local economy.

In 2022, Movers and Shakas pivoted its focus from remote workers to newly relocated professionals by creating the Hawai‘i Talent Onboarding Program (HITOP). This employer-sponsored program (including 8-weeks of place-based immersion), helps professionals (and their partners) who have recently relocated or returned to Hawai‘i to build relationships, adapt, and contribute to the community.

Through cultural education, community service, and networking, participants develop a sense of belonging and shared stewardship for their new home. Hawai‘i benefits from this “brain gain,” and local employers benefit from higher retention rates.

Learn more: https://www.moversandshakas.org/

TRUE’s mission is to accelerate the adoption of technology in Hawai‘i, enabling the state’s economy to become more diversified and sustainable, and empowering its workforce to earn higher incomes to build assets and achieve a better quality of life.

In 2022, the TRUE initiative launched the TRUE Esports + Tech Lab at Waipahu Public Library, a unique public and private sector collaboration between TRUE, the Hawai‘i State Library System, and the State of Hawai‘i. Hardware and technical assistance were contributed by Pacxa and Central Pacific Bank Foundation.

The Lab supports Hawai‘i’s first community-based, competitive high school esports team with a dedicated coach. As a resource for the community, the Lab is a place where participants can earn a certification in foundational software game development, or simply begin to engage with technology. Content is available free of charge for library members.

TRUE plans to launch additional esports facilities at public libraries across the state, exposing and equipping Hawai‘i residents with knowledge of the technologies of tomorrow, including artificial intelligence, the metaverse, and virtual reality.

Learn more: https://true.hec.org/