HED: Programs and Services for Native Hawaiians Living on the Continent


If you take a look at a list of scholarships and programs for Native Hawaiians, you’ll find this common qualification: you must be a resident of Hawai‘i. But with 2020 Census data predicted to show there are now more Native Hawaiians living on the continent than in the Hawaiian Islands, it might be time for organizations to take another look at their residency requirements.

That’s something Papa Ola Lōkahi, a nonprofit responsible for addressing Native Hawaiian health and well-being, has begun to think about.

“We’re hopeful that in the 2020 census we can start seeing where some of those pockets of Hawaiians that are beyond California and West Coast areas might be, because then we can start to have further discussions with some of our partner organizations,” says Sheri-Ann Daniels, Executive Director of Papa Ola Lōkahi.

Native Hawaiian residents on the continent are also finding that educational and financial assistance opportunities are lacking, in comparison to what is offered to Hawai‘i residents, and more cultural programs are desired.

“I wish there were scholarship options for Native Hawaiians outside of Hawai‘i, especially for preschool and school-aged kids,” says Mahina Oshie, a Kamehameha Schools graduate who settled in Seattle after attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. “I also wish there were cultural programs in Seattle that were sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, such as summer and weekend camps.”

There is currently no central place to locate all manner of help currently available to Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders living on the continent, but the good news is that there are some scholarship opportunities out there. You just have to search to find them.

For instance, students currently living on the continent are eligible for the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Scholarship Fund, Gates Millennium Scholarship and some of the Pauahi Foundation’s private donor scholarships. Chaminade University offers Native Hawaiian scholarships for students attending their school regardless of residency. Various associations of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, which have 18 locations around the continent, offer educational assistance too.

The Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club offers scholarship and enrichment programs throughout the year for residents of Nevada: a founder’s scholarship, an essay scholarship, a stipend for children who want to attend Kamehameha Schools’ Explorations program in Hawai‘i, and an adult education scholarship.

“If we’re educated, we can provide a more stable basis for our ‘ohana,” says Doreen Hall, Hope Pelekikena Mua of the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club. “So our scholarships are very broad and we tried to hit certain key components: Hawaiian, non-Hawaiian, parents, vocational, sending their kids back home for Explorations. It’s a very thought-out scholarship program that the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club has built over the years.”

More of these types of programs for Native Hawaiians living outside of Hawai‘i would be a welcome change to match the growing population on the continent.