A Council’s Commitment to the Power of Community Authority


Just like advocacy, our work for the community never stops.

In December 2021, the Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC) concluded our year-long community work and documentation of priority recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education. This work is both our charge (ESSA, Title VI, Part B, NHEA, Sec. 6204(d)(6)) and our joyful work as a council.

How We Started

We started early in the year with community consultations across all our island communities from Hilo to Hanalei. We work with passionate, trusted, and artful gathers of our community, such as ʻAʻaliʻi Alliance, to create inclusive and intentional spaces for diverse community engagement. We support and lean into the values our council members. They attend every community consultation as a key touchpoint between our work and the community through the guiding values of:

  • Connection. We learn with and within a community, and thus we explore opportunities to identify connections between our individual observations and our collective experiences.
  • Challenges. We hold ourselves accountable to a culture of learning, and critical reflection of our own questions, ideas, and/or biases that can play an important role to test what we know – or don’t know – and help us seek evidence towards deeper understanding together.
  • Contextualization. We see and respond to the world through an ʻŌiwi lens, and thus are both diverse and equal partners with our community in making sense of our work that is appropriate, meaningful, and equitable.

What We’re Learning

With manaʻo and qualitative data provided through 18 community sessions and 118 community members across the paeʻāina, ʻAʻaliʻi Alliance and our council worked to synthesize the data to identify major themes and patterns. These themes were reviewed with current literature in education and community wellbeing, and weighed against criteria from our NHEC needs assessment.

The result was two sets of priority recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education: priority recommendations for funding and priority recommendations for grantee support.

Our full 2021 annual report with priority recommendations will be made available digitally this month on our website at www.nhec.org.

Where We’re Going Next

NHEC, with ʻAʻaliʻi Alliance, has already begun our 2022 community consultation series focused on building stronger communities. Our sessions started in January and we have ample opportunities for the community to engage through March and April.

All our community consultations are free to attend and open to all. To register or find dates for your specific community, please see our events page at www.nhec.org or on our NHEC Facebook page.

We need you, your voice, and your priorities there as equal partners with us in this effort for Native Hawaiian education. Pūpūkahi i holomua!