Data Dialogues with our Kaiapuni Schools


Community is the authority in identifying their priorities in education. This is a philosophy deeply rooted in our annual community engagement sessions across the pae ʻāina to lean in, listen, and learn from community about their educational priorities for funding.

But this year, we’re doing things a bit different. We’re sharing the data we’ve collected from the community over the past three years and asking them to help us ground-truth the data we’re seeing. Why? Because our same philosophy for community also extends to the data about the community: if it’s about them, it should include them.

How we do it

Community data dialogues are interactive participatory events designed to share open data with community in a way that is digestible, prompts deeper conversations about topics of mutual interest, and supports expanding understanding through meaningful feedback. With this in mind, we’ve not only changed our community engagement format to be data-driven dialogues, but also focused in on a specific community priority: ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

Why we do it

The Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC) has a long-standing history of advocating to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to prioritize funding for programs that assert Hawaiian language as a medium of instruction. Data to underline why this is important points to the 2020 Native Hawaiian Education Program grant awardees where 24 programs were awarded, but only four programs indicated Hawaiian language as a medium of instruction. So, to understand this better we are taking our community data dialogues to our kaiapuni communities (kumu, haumāna, ʻohana) across our island home with our partners, ʻAʻaliʻi Alliance.

Where we do it

Sharing open data with community is just one step in our journey together. NHEC must also contextualize data dialogues for accountability as diverse and equal partners with our community to make sense of our work in a way that is appropriate, meaningful and equitable. This means meeting community where they are at and hosting dialogues in spaces that are familiar, accessible, and comfortable.

Enter, Merrie Monarch.

Yes, we did that! Our first community data dialogue was hosted on Moku O Keawe during Mele Manaka at Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo school where over 100 mākua and haumāna engaged with us and shared their feedback.

We understood the assignment that this one-day event in a fair atmosphere would need to look different than our standard sit-down, curated consultations. We designed this data dialogue to be interactive and inclusive. Community were given dot stickers and invited to place their stickers on a poster-sized display of our priority recommendations. The stickers provided an accessible and interactive way for both students and adults alike to indicate their agreement or their push-back on the priorities presented. Conversations were also sparked about standards, data, and learner outcomes.

How to get involved

During May, our community data dialogues continued with our kaiapuni communities on Oʻahu (Pūʻōhala Elementary) and Molokaʻi (Kualapuʻu Charter School). We are still in the process of securing a kaiapuni community group for Lānaʻi. We encourage program staff or ʻohana connected to these kaiapuni communities to please join us in data dialogue events.

For more information about NHEC and our priority recommendation advocacy efforts, please visit us at