Summer 2004

The Hawaiian Way Fund – Supporting 2,000 Years of Good Ideas


Date: July 30, 2004

Na Pualei o Likolehua is an award winning halau hula (school of hula) that engages authentic Hawaiian culture and knowledge. Since its inception in 1976, this halau maintains and perpetuates the ethics of hula and the language and values of Hawai`i’s indigenous peoples, valuable links to Hawai`i’s past that are critical to its future.  By training women to become knowledgeable teachers for future generations, Na Pualei o Likolehua ensures traditional practices will endure through time.

Na Pualei o Likolehua and organizations like them are vitally important not just to Native Hawaiians, but to all who love Hawai`i. These special schools and the kumu (teachers) that dedicate their lives to them are the keepers of thousands of years of Native knowledge about an island home in the Pacific.  All that Native Hawaiians are– ancient chants that record their journey from the past into the present; the knowledge of places and best practices both ancient and modern; the perpetuation of language and the ability to carry the Native Hawaiian culture into the future– all hinge on the existence of these special halau. Without them, Hawai`i is merely a tropical location, but with halau, Hawai`i continues to be home to a unique culture and people for all to share and celebrate.

Whether you’re a malihini (visitor) or kama`āina (local) in Hawai`i, you will experience the warmth, kindness and generosity of the people as that is the “Hawaiian way.”  A new fund that celebrates the Hawaiian way by which aloha is shared and honors the indigenous culture of Hawai`i was introduced into the local philanthropic community in December 2003 by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA).

CNHA is a non-profit organization comprised of more than 50 member organizations from around Hawai`i and the nation, all of which work in, or direct their attention to, Native Hawaiian community development initiatives. CNHA’s mission is to serve Native Hawaiian populations through empowerment and informational initiatives. Its core programming consists of successful year-round training and technical assistance to bring resources to Native Hawaiian communities as well as effective informational products that support community development organizations to increase capacity and reach.

Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of the Hawaiian archipelago, known as the state of Hawai`i. They are a member of the Polynesian family of people, with ancestral homelands in Hawai`i for more than 2,000 years. In addition to Native Hawaiians living in Hawai`i, there are more than 160,000 Native Hawaiians living in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska.While this Native community of approximately 240,000 strong and representing 20 percent of the population in Hawai`i faces considerable challenges in the areas of economic opportunity, education, health and housing, Native Hawaiians have made significant strides. However, great disparity continues to exist. In the state of Hawai`i specifically, the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population

  • lags behind the majority Asian population and non-hispanic white population in educational attainment (only 18 percent have an associate’s degree or higher, compared to 35 percent of the total population);
  • have the highest poverty rate level, ten percent above the total state population (21 percent versus the total population being at an 11 percent poverty rate);
  • have a lower per capita income ($14,375, compared to the Asian per capita income ($22,884) or the Non-hispanic whites’ per capita income ($30,199);
  • and experience severe overcrowding in their homes, reflective of larger and extended families or the inability of individual family members to afford to establish their own households (While 32 percent of the NHPI population and 17 percent of the Asian population are overcrowded, only 6 percent of Non-Hispanic White households are classified as overcrowded).

CNHA remains steadfast in its belief that Native Hawaiian communities hold many of the best solutions and ideas to addressing their challenges. The Hawaiian Way Fund represents the support of community solutions that are tied to and celebrate the history, values and knowledge of the indigenous peoples of Hawai`i in all areas of community-well being, whether in the delivery of education, healthcare, affordable housing, language or cultural and environmental practices – truly supporting 2,000 years of good ideas.

While Hawai`i’s local Aloha United Way programs provide funding to many important and valuable non-profit organizations mainly health and human services organizations the Hawaiian Way Fund is unique in that it directly impacts Hawaiian programs and Hawaiian-based initiatives.

The Hawaiian Way Fund represents an alternative giving center that supports and builds capacity and staying power for successful projects that provide qualitative service and promote community building inside Native Hawaiian communities. The creation of the Hawaiian Way Fund solidifies a place and space for individual philanthropists and corporate contributors to invest in things Hawaiian, receive recognition and be assured of accountability and the impact of their investments and gifts.

“There is no doubt that some of the best achievements and progress made with Native Hawaiian youth occurs, for example, when educational programs are available that acknowledge where they come from, who they are and instills the pride and strength of their ancestors,” Robin Danner, CNHA president and CEO. “The sharing of things Hawaiian is a powerful foundation not just for our Hawaiian children, but everyone in our state.  Hawaiian culture is a resource that we must encourage, we must build upon and something that serves everyone.”

The Hawaiian Way Fund was conceived by CNHA as a means to bolster support for small grassroots organizations struggling to serve overwhelming needs in Hawaiian communities with scarce resources. “We know that there are numerous private individuals and businesses that would support a charitable cause for Native Hawaiian initiatives if given an opportunity to do so,” Danner states. Danner added while non-profits are “working hard and creating real change and new possibilities for our communities, the Hawaiian Way Fund creates a venue for anyone to share their aloha and support some pretty incredible community organizations.”

Community organizations who will benefit from the Hawaiian Way Fund include charter schools, affordable housing providers, community associations, healthcare initiatives and halau hula (school of hula like Na Pualei o Likolehua) – small grassroots groups sustained largely through volunteerism – “who teach our children their culture, engage them in arts and sports, take care of our kupuna (elders) and look after our unique and precious resources. These community heroes deserve to receive as much support as they give,” said Danner.

Like halau hula, another organization that will be served by the Hawaiian Way Fund is Na Lei Na`auao, a statewide alliance of Native Hawaiian Charter Schools. Na Lei consists of twelve culture-based charter schools throughout the state that utilize Hawaiian culture and values in delivering its rigorous academic curriculum. Its mission is to establish community-based models of education that are reflective of Hawaiian cultural values, philosophies and ideologies, all intertwined with modern teaching approaches to the sciences, mathematics and technologies. The alliance has the potential of improving the educational success rates of thousands of Kindergarten through twelfth grade students. These students are presently the most underserved and undereducated population in Hawai`i.

The State Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) is another organization supported by the Hawaiian Way Fund. The SCHHA is a statewide coalition of community associations serving residents of the Hawaiian Home Land areas, unique trust land areas set aside for the specific purpose of perpetuating Native Hawaiian people and life ways. The SCHHA promotes healthy communities by creating forums for solutions to be shared and implements community based projects and programs in the unique trust land areas of the Hawaiian Home Lands program.

The most basic goal of the Hawaiian Way Fund is to support important community-based initiatives in all areas of community development. It empowers community associations and charter schools to increase their reach and multiply their impact. The Hawaiian Way Fund provides a place for anyone interested in things Hawaiian to share their aloha and support for a myriad of initiatives.

Anyone interested in supporting such community-based initiatives may contribute to the Hawaiian Way Fund through direct contributions, employee payroll deductions, automatic electronic transfers and estate planning. The Hawaiian Way Fund is also seeking employer support through corporate matching programs.

The Hawaiian Way Fund currently has 16 partner-recipient organizations, ranging from affordable housing providers to cultural practitioners and educators, to health care providers and charter schools. The first allocations from the Hawaiian Way Fund will be distributed at CNHA’s 3rd Annual Native Hawaiian Conference August 31 – September 3, 2004. For more information about the Hawaiian Way Fund or CNHA, visit