Bill Gates said that in our 21st-century world—and in the future that stretches out before us—we’ll need leaders: people he defined as “those who empower others.” Today HawaiiKidsCAN was proud to celebrate a true leader in education and innovation, by naming Senator Donovan Dela Cruz our second and final 2018 Legislative Champion award!

It was an honor to deliver the award at Leilehua High School. To commemorate the senator and his work on behalf of our keiki, our team presented a $500 donation to Leilehua. We presented the recognition to Principal Jason Nakamoto of Leilehua High School and Senator Dela Cruz. I was excited to see that students from the school’s Network Engineering class and CyberPatriot club were in attendance, as well as faculty who teach Cyber Security and STEM.

Hunter, a Leilehua sophomore, shared with us how his experiences in Network Engineering class have opened up his interests in learning more about technology. Daniel, also a sophomore, was proud to share that he was able to attend the NSA National CyberPatriot competition last year in Baltimore, Maryland with Leilehua’s CyberPatriot Club. He hopes that their club will return to the competition this year and place in the prestigious top three. Good luck to Daniel and his team!

We recognize that every decision a leader makes costs political capital, and that advocates and policymakers are most effective when working together to advance opportunities for kids.

Senator Dela Cruz advanced opportunities that will give more of our kids an edge in the world of tomorrow. He was the lead Senate sponsor for HB 2607, the computer science bill that we supported together and which is now a law!

That made our ceremony at Leilehua High School even more special. Today’s donation is intended to help the school build its computer science and cyber security education offerings!

“Kids live in a highly digital world, we need to change with the times to allow our students to explore and understand what’s going on. Our goal is turning our library into a 21st-century learning commons, where kids have access to the digital tools highly utilized in our global society,” said Principal Jason Nakamoto.

Here’s what Senator Dela Cruz had to say:

“The successes we had this past session, to ensure that all of our youths have the opportunity to an education, were also due to the active involvement of such programs as HawaiiKidsCAN. Students today are facing a challenging world that requires a more skilled workforce with an education or training into new areas such as cybersecurity and computer science.”

Senator Dela Cruz also demonstrated a commitment to community collaboration, ensuring that his staff was openly collaborating with HawaiiKidsCAN and national partners such as He also supported or championed a number of bills that speak to the mission of HawaiiKidsCAN.

These bills proposed:

  • Increased support for language education at the Hawaii Department of Education

  • Expanded opportunities for students to communicate with government officials

  • Regionally aligning our workforce needs with learning opportunities at school

Thank you, Senator Dela Cruz!

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


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