In a remarkable showcase of support for Native Hawaiian education, the 2023 Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP) grant competition has reached its pinnacle. This year, the NHEP grant competition, funded through the federal Native Hawaiian Education Act (NHEA), made its mark by awarding 24 programs in September 2023, a total combined funding amount of $33.2 million.
Absolute Priorities for Community
NHEP is more than a grant competition; it’s a powerful instrument for change in the education landscape of Hawaiʻi. Its mission is to support the development of innovative education programs that assist Native Hawaiians while also supplementing and expanding existing programs and authorities in the field of education.
The significance of the 2023 fiscal year lies in its absolute priorities. Unlike in previous years, the 2023 competition incorporates absolute priorities based on the authorized program activities outlined in the Native Hawaiian Education Act, a part of Title VI, Part B of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This innovative approach to grant allocation ensures that resources are strategically directed to address key areas of educational development for Native Hawaiians.
NHEC’s Pioneering Advocacy
A notable development in the 2023 NHEP grant competition is the inclusion of Absolute Priority II, in addition to the authorized program activities. This priority, inspired by Title III of division H of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, serves as a testament to the concerted efforts of the Native Hawaiian Education Council (NHEC) in advocating for Native Hawaiian students’ educational needs.
Absolute Priority II specifically designates funds to be used for renovating or modernizing existing public elementary or secondary schools, as well as structures related to these schools. To qualify for this funding, proposals must demonstrate that the structure in question predominantly serves Native Hawaiian students. This ambitious priority aims to enhance the learning environments of Native Hawaiian students across the state, fostering a brighter future for generations to come.
Mālama Honua PCS Foundation: A Shining Example
As the September 2023 announcement of NHEP awardees by the U.S. Department of Education rolled in, the education community had reason to celebrate. Among the 24 new grantees, the Mālama Honua Public Charter School Foundation stood out for its dedication to the cause. The Foundation received a significant grant of $2 million for Absolute Priority II, which will be used to construct a single classroom “pod” facility and restrooms to support sixth- to eighth-grade students on the main campus.
This funding will not only create state-of-the-art facilities but will also provide Native Hawaiian students with a conducive and inspiring environment for their education. It’s a testament to the impact that advocacy, innovation, and collaborative efforts can have on Native Hawaiian education.
The 2023 NHEP grant competition and its Absolute Priorities represent a significant step forward in the journey to provide equitable and enriching education opportunities for Native Hawaiians. As these programs are set into motion, the future holds promise for the transformation of educational landscapes and the empowerment of generations to come. To learn more about the 2023 NHEP awardees, please visit: https://oese.ed.gov/2023-grant-awards/.