The Nānākuli-Wai‘anae Complex Area is ramping up its college and career readiness supports thanks to a $2.7 million federal GEAR UP partnership grant. The grant establishes a partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oahu (UHWO), GEAR UP match partner Kamehameha Schools, and Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) schools, Waiʻanae Intermediate, Waiʻanae High and Nānākuli High and Intermediate.
"The beauty of GEAR UP is that it requires pilina (strong relations) between K-12 schools, universities, and local organizations to create a vibrant and sustainable learning community that supports the aspirations of all our learners,” said Maenette Benham, chancellor, University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu. “We are committed to working with our partners to graduate 21st Leaders - career creators.”
The goals of the GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant include increasing academic rigor and achievement in Math and Language Arts, college and career readiness activities resulting in increased knowledge and high school completion, and increased postsecondary enrollment without need for remedial courses. The grant will run for seven years and will follow the current seventh grade cohort of students until they graduate and are into their first year of post-secondary education.
“Through this partnership with the Nānākuli-Wai‘anae Complex Area and the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oahu, we were able to create new and innovative programs together,” shared Kalei Ka‘ilihiwa, Regional Director for Kamehameha Schools. “We built strong relationships between our organizations, aligned our resources, and based on the results we were able to realize together under the previous grant, I am thrilled to re-up our commitment to the work under this new grant.”
In 2011, UHWO obtained a GEAR UP grant that was named, “Holomua: GEAR UP on the Leeward Coast.” The results from the grant included:
- A record 20 valedictorians were among the 414 Holomua GEAR UP students who received their diplomas from Waiʻanae High School in May 2017. The students were at the top of their class, with grade point averages pushed above 4.0 by taking college courses.
- Holomua: GEAR UP initiated a partnership between Waiʻanae High School Searider Productions and UHWO's Academy of Creative Media to create a seamless pathway from high school through UHWO and into the workforce. The pathway was implemented in Summer 2017 to increase student success and leverage existing resources to help sustain the early college initiative.
- UHWO conducted summer bridge programs to help ease students into college life for graduates of Nānākuli High and Intermediate School and Waiʻanae High School.
- The Holomua: GEAR UP cohort from Waiʻanae High School and Nānākuli High and Intermediate School had an increase in enrollment to UHWO. The enrollment rate from both high schools doubled in Fall 2017 semester from Fall 2016.
Complex Area Superintendent Ann Mahi looks forward to continuing the partnerships through the grant for the schools in her area, adding, “We are grateful to the University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu and Kamehameha Schools for their continued support and generosity in giving these students opportunities they didn’t think were possible until now. We look forward to continuing the success that we experienced from the first GEAR UP grant in 2011, which contributed to a record number of valedictorians and increased college enrollment.”
For more information about GEAR UP efforts in Hawaiʻi, click here.