Since we launched in 2017, we’ve been incredibly grateful to have partnered with so many incredible students, parents, educators, policymakers, and community partners. Our passion and commitment are as strong as ever, and we can’t wait to dive into the next chapter of our collective work on behalf of kids. 2023 brought policy winsinternational collaboration, and new projects, and 2024 is set up to be even bigger and better. These efforts are contributing to powerful national momentum to increase opportunities for millions of kids.

Policy Change

We are excited to dive into our 7th legislative session as an organization, building on the relationships we’ve built with legislative leaders and the lessons we’ve learned about how to help families engage with policymakers. We’ve worked hard with coalition partners through the interim period between legislative sessions to develop impactful policy proposals that will benefit kids across the entire K-12 spectrum, from early literacy to work-based learning and college affordability. Stay tuned as we roll out some new strategies to make it even easier to have your voice heard!

The education that’s right for you, because every student learns differently.

    • Expand access to quality facilities for charter schools (resolution to be introduced)

Tutoring and care for every student in every community.

    • Require all public elementary schools to conduct universal screening for students grades K-3 to identify those at risk of having dyslexia (HB1657/SB2510)
    • Ensure transparency around teacher use of curricular materials grounded in the science of reading (HB1655/SB2509)

A clear path to the career you choose. It’s about finding your fit and your pathway to a meaningful life.

    • Increase incentives to employers who offer quality work-based learning opportunities (HB1654/SB2975)
    • Ensure FAFSA completion is a core element of the Personal Transition Plan that is required by the Hawaii Department of Education
    • Ensure that all high schools are equipped to provide 12 month counselors with a clearly defined role to support postsecondary access and success (resolution to be introduced)



Hawaii Kids Can Afford College: Leading the college affordability conversation

Last year, we were just kicking off the HawaiiKidsCan Afford College campaign, which seeks to help more of Hawaii’s students access financial aid to achieve their postsecondary dreams. Since then, we’ve started building a coalition of community partners to help families, launched social media PSAs to inform students about the FAFSA, tabled at community events to speak with real students and families, offered free financial aid courses through EVERFI, and are digging into significant policy changes that will help students access millions of dollars in government financial aid. This is a community-wide effort, so we’re looking for volunteers to add capacity to this work!

High-quality tutoring and digital equity support

One of our favorite projects of the last year was Hawaii Tutoring, which provided free access to high quality, intensive virtual tutoring to nearly 60 students across three islands through our amazing partners at Air Tutors. We’re leveling up this year by evolving into Hawaii Tutoring+, which harnesses technology to provide multi-generational support to families free of charge. Through the platform, students can receive high quality virtual tutoring from Air Tutors and caretakers can access digital literacy training and refurbished devices. This program is made possible through a Hawaiian Telcom digital equity grant. Families – sign up for early registration now for our spring cohort!


ʻOhana Pods

Our Lanai parent fellows – Lisa, Charity, and Shelly – have been incredible, setting up the Lanai ʻOhana Connection and planning family and school engagement events and opportunities. After winning a competitive national Cambiar Thrive Grant, we are rolling out the ʻOhana Learning Tool Kit exclusively for Lanai families. This is an exciting free opportunity for families to access adaptive, real-time academic data for their kids, providing an accurate gauge of grade level progress in reading and math that leads to more productive conversations with teachers about supports needed. Lanai families – sign up today!


Youth advocacy is crossing oceans

We were thrilled to host a delegation of youth and educators from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in September. Co-operation Ireland is a respected organization that has helped to cultivate peace and resilience through years of tension and division. To continue strengthening this partnership across the globe, we are planning a trip for select Hawaii youth to Ireland in fall/winter 2024 to meet with schools, policymakers, and community activists. Ideal students are 18-22 years old with a proven track record of advocacy and community organizing. While the formal application process has not opened yet, please let us know if you know someone who would be a good fit.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of our initiatives this year. We’ve already had an exciting start to the year by co-hosting the inaugural Hawaii K-12 Parent and School Expo this past weekend at Windward Mall, which saw nearly 40 schools and education organizations connect with hundreds of local families.

We can’t say enough how much your support means to us. We’ll continue to do our best to earn your trust and partnership, and we don’t take this opportunity lightly. Here’s to another year of fighting for Hawaii kids!


David is the founding executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN. He lives in Honolulu, HI.


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