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CEO Message: Appreciation after a year of growth

May. 28, 2021

Aloha nui kākou,
The end of the school year is upon us.
And as it turns out, we were plenty tough enough for this pandemic. The proof is there, and we can be proud. Yet, it seems a little hard to celebrate when we’re still not sure that we can smile our biggest smile or laugh uncontrollably, or even hug. Now we know a pandemic can do that to us, too. 
I start by sending our prayers to those who have been ill or who have had loved ones pass from COVID-19. These losses will stay with us, in our hearts, forever.
It is also fitting that I start by acknowledging the blessings of ke Akua as we honor our 704 graduating seniors and 748 graduating preschoolers. The Class of 2021 did not break; they overcame, leading the way for all of our haumāna, and, indeed, for all of us. Ho‘omaika‘i e nā haumāna papa alakaʻi o kēia makahiki 2021! 
This year has been about the heads-down work and pandemic-proof performance of our teams. While I only have space to share a few examples, there are many, and I thank all our teams and staff:

  • Our COVID-19 Response Team guided us with leading health protocols, frameworks, and responses. They protected our health, while allowing us to maintain learning and enterprise stability. To date, we’ve had 109 cases in our KS community, with no or minimal transmissions at our facilities.
  • Our campus teams worked relentlessly to deliver a world-class Kamehameha Schools education through a new KS Digital platform, adding in-person experiences as conditions allowed. This allowed our haumāna to keep learning through distance, hybrid, and face-to-face changes. In our latest pulse survey results, 94% of students and 92% of families were satisfied with the quality of education.
  • Our community teams transformed our portfolio of programs, scholarships, partnerships, and investments to meet different needs in times of crisis. They chose to work together with community partners, and they used our KS Digital platform to reach more families in innovative ways. We served more than 1,800 public school students through our KS Digital platform (with Arizona State University); supported over 100 community partners; reached nearly 50,000 community learners; and invested $50 million in our communities.
  • Our ‘āina teams stewarded our commercial, residential, agricultural, and conservation lands and facilities, prioritizing our support of local tenants and their businesses, farms, jobs, homes, and livelihoods. On our ‘āina, 147 tenants were supported with rent relief; 95% of tenants were retained, and about 90% of rents were collected to support our schools and community efforts. 
  • Our finance teams helped us recover from the precipitous market drop in 2020 by outperforming industry benchmarks and stewarding resources with a stable, long-term approach, allowing us to increase our educational spending on our campuses and in our communities. Over the last five years, we were able to increase educational spending from $362.7 million to an anticipated $441.7 million this year, FY2020-21.
  • Our technology teams developed our new KS Digital platform. They quickly outfitted, supported, and trained our educators, haumāna, families, and staff to teach, learn, and work digitally, anywhere, anytime. Nearly 13,000 users enrolled this year on our KS Digital platform. 
  • Our dedicated staff showed up and contributed to every effort and shift. They rose early, ended late, and sacrificed personally to: prepare our classrooms and offices, drive our buses, maintain our facilities, care for our landscaping, manage our ‘āina, attend to our well-being, support our operations, and stand guard to keep us safe. We stayed in service every day to our students, families, and communities because of them.

Finally, a special mahalo to our Kamehameha Schools ‘ohana for supporting our work, including our parents and families who took on learning in their homes and patiently dealt with new changes; our volunteers who delivered over 43,500 meals to our communities; and our alumni who supported the Pauahi Foundation with even more donations and who took the time to deliver meals to our alumni kūpuna.   
In closing, I would like to share with you our direction going forward:

  • Health and well-being: We continue to prioritize the health and well-being of our haumāna and community. For the pandemic, we encourage you to vaccinate. For the good of all of us, each of us must accept our personal responsibility – to protect ourselves and our youngest keiki, and do our part to help control this disease. To support this effort, we will be facilitating more vaccination events on our lands. Next year, we will be on even higher alert concerning the emotional well-being of our haumāna, and we will stay vigilant in keeping our keiki in the center and providing globally leading student safety and well-being support
  • Next school year: We expect to resume full in-person learning at our K-12 campuses and preschools. Our campuses will continue the legacy of Ke Ali‘i Pauahi in developing future ‘ōiwi leaders through rigorous, personalized, Hawaiian culture-based education. While we are excited to add cutting-edge digital innovations, we believe our campus haumāna need in-person experiences to optimize their learning. Thus, we do not expect to widely offer full-distance learning options next year, unless the pandemic dramatically worsens. Through the summer, our campuses will be communicating with students and families on their individual plans.
  • Strategic direction: During the pandemic, we shifted to a new strategic plan, Strategic Map 2025, which recognizes the need to rapidly adapt to our new world. It focuses on developing, and putting our faith in our culture and future ‘ōiwi leaders, who will be taking on these challenges and solving the emerging issues of our lāhui. We will be doing this through our world-class campuses and preschools, integrated ‘āina and community education portfolios, and the globally-competitive performance we will expect from every part of our enterprise. We will be sharing more about this direction in the coming months. 
  • Restoration: Most importantly, as the pandemic subsides and when the time is right, I hope we take the time to reconnect and restore, finding our way back to our smiles, laughter, and good times with each other. We need to spend time with our family and friends; we need to engage with our peers and colleagues; we need to be with our community and on our ‘āina; and we need to hang out and talk story. We need to become ourselves again – so our lāhui can rise. 

On behalf of our Board of Trustees and leadership team, I express our mahalo nui to all of you for your support and aloha all year long. It continues to be our privilege to serve you and your ‘ohana. 

Ke Akua Pū,

ceo message, sm 2040

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