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Hawaiʻi Joins Talent, Innovation, Equity States

June 6, 2022, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated June 5, 1:34 PM
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Nursing graduates at the Kapiʻolani Community College commencement. (Photos courtesy of the University of Hawaiʻi)

Hawaiʻi is exploring new approaches in support of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino learners to build workforce-relevant knowledge and skills, and a foundation on the mainland that has been working with the University of Hawaiʻi for several years is providing funds to help.

Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all, named Hawaiʻi the sixth Talent, Innovation, Equity state, awarding a $575,000 grant to support efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

Graduates at the Kauaʻi Community College commencement.

Hawaiʻi was the first state to set an ambitious goal for educating its residents beyond high school. The state joins Colorado, Tennessee, Oregon, Virginia and Massachusetts in the endeavor.

“As part of an equity-first orientation, Lumina worked with states to identify specific goals for ensuring racial equity, meaning having a college degree or other quality credential beyond a high school diploma can no longer be predicted by a person’s race or ethnicity,” a press release from UH said.

Lumina has supported policy and programmatic work focused on achieving racial equity with UH for several years.

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“In our years of partnership, the Hawaiʻi team demonstrated it is well-equipped to reduce disparities in educational outcomes among Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino students,” Amanda DeLaRosa, a Lumina strategy officer for state policy, said in the press release.

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The university will use its grant to work toward increasing the share of working-age Hawaiʻi residents of specific ethnic populations with college degrees or other credentials during the next four years. Meeting this commitment would result in a post-high school educational attainment rate of 27.8% among Native Hawaiians. This rate would be 27.4% when combined with other Pacific Islanders’ outcomes and 38.7% among Filipino residents.

“We are grateful to Lumina Foundation for this timely and remarkable opportunity to strengthen our work to increase education equity in Hawaiʻi through a greater data-informed focus on populations that have historically been marginalized and boosting the associated educational outcomes,” UH President David Lassner said in the press release. “Lumina’s invitation to the university to lead this work for Hawaiʻi provides even more national affirmation of our efforts on educational attainment and equity, including with other national partners who have recognized our successes.”

Lumina established the Talent, Innovation and Equity Partnership to give states an array of funding, research and related support for achieving targeted improvements in higher education. Hawaiʻi will improve in four areas: educating a higher percentage of the state’s people, creating a learning community among faculty members to support racially and ethnically diverse student groups, developing pathways to success for more students and reviewing state policies to ensure they are designed to support students of color.

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“Lumina Foundation’s support through the TIE collaboration marks a milestone in the state’s educational ecosystem,” Stephen Schatz, Hawaiʻi P-20 Council executive director, said in the press release. “The Hawai‘i P-20 Partnership and the UH system will be able to align our strategic priorities to close the gaps in educational attainment for Native Hawaiians, Pacific islanders and Filipinos and build a strong workforce pipeline to family-sustaining jobs for all of Hawai‘i’s residents.”

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