Kamehameha Schools (KS) will continue its commitment to the Wai‘anae Coast community by building the Agnes Kalaniho‘okaha Cope Community Learning Center (Cope Center) in Nānākuli.
The Cope Center will serve as a place for gathering and learning with an emphasis on health, education and ‘āina (land). The Wai‘anae Coast Region is home to the third-largest concentration of Native Hawaiians in the state with upwards of 28,000, including nearly 10,000 in Nānākuli alone.
KS is investing $10.9 million for the construction of the learning center at the three-acre site, and will engage the local community in the coming months leading up to the planned groundbreaking in 2019. The Cope Center is slated to open to the public in the summer of 2020 and will feature an innovative design-build planning, permitting and construction process as part of KS’ approach to functioning as a high-performing Native Hawaiian organization.
“Nānākuli is home to a rich learning environment both in and out of school. Kamehameha Schools is committed to doing our part to bring the community’s long-held vision for this site to life,” said KS Wai‘anae Coast Regional Director Kalei Ka‘ilihiwa. “We committed to this project back in 2010 and finally have lift off! We look forward to talking story with the community as our plans progress. We are so grateful for the support of the community to date, and look forward to working closely with residents to bring this center to life.”
To build the center, KS has enlisted the support of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to secure a lease for the site in Nānākuli. Neighboring projects include the newest satellite location for the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and the Nānākuli Commercial Center, a project of the Nānākuli Hawaiian Homestead Community Association. Upon its completion, the Cope Center will become another community hub of learning along with well-known resources already in Nānākuli, such as the Boys & Girls Club, the new Nānākuli Public Library, and both DOE and public charter schools.
The Cope Center will encompass approximately 6,800 square feet with a large multi-purpose room that can divide into three smaller spaces. Covered lānai will allow for hybrid indoor/outdoor gathering areas, and ample outdoor space with minimal landscaping will allow for community māla (gardens) to be incorporated.
The learning center is named for and honors the professional legacy of Dr. Agnes Kalaniho‘okaha Cope, known fondly by many as “Aunty Aggie,” a longtime Nānākuli resident and champion for Native Hawaiian health, education, culture and the arts. Dr. Cope was a founder of community-owned and -driven Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, and also served as Board Chair for both Papa Ola Lōkahi and Ke Ola Mamo.
“Employment trends suggest that health, education and agriculture are emerging industries in West O‘ahu. Our core programming will cater to young adults and offer career development classes as well as learning opportunities in those areas,” said Ka‘ilihiwa. “These programs will give our young people a leading edge in the work place. The Cope Center will provide platforms through which students can realize that post-secondary education is not only attainable, but leads to real career opportunities in communities they live in.”