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Kamehameha Schools’ longstanding commitment to early learning leads to 150 new full-tuition college scholarships

May 4, 2023

Kamehameha Schools and Chaminade University have forged an innovative and community-focused partnership to educate, train and prepare aspiring early learning kumu through 150 full-tuition Muʻo scholarships. Muʻo means “to bud” and the name of the scholarship reflects the focus on taking care of keiki at the beginning of their educational journey.

This partnership aligns with Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke’s “Ready Keiki” program, which aims to create universal preschool access for all of Hawaiʻi’s three and four-year-olds by 2032. Realizing that goal will require a significant increase of qualified kumu and the need is especially acute in rural communities. These Muʻo scholarships will help to meet this need.

“Native Hawaiian keiki are at the center of everything we do at Kamehameha Schools. Equity and social justice starts with access — access to foundational early learning opportunities in all of our communities. To achieve this, we must ensure we have qualified early learning kumu to welcome and prepare our keiki,” said Dr. Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, vice president of Hiʻialo at Kamehameha Schools.

This equity gap is especially acute within our lāhui where the cost of attending preschool is competing with housing and transportation. Kamehameha Schools believes moving towards universal access to preschool will help nā ʻohana ʻōiwi rebalance their cost of living.

Beginning fall 2023, Chaminade University and Kamehameha Schools will offer 50 students Muʻo Scholarships to Chaminade’s online bachelor’s program to become teachers here in Hawaiʻi, prioritizing early learning. This enrollment will continue for two additional years for a total of 150 funded scholarships as a partnership through KS Kaiāulu, a new way for Kamehameha Schools to impact keiki and ʻohana in the kaiāulu (community) alongside community partners.

“This 100% online program means a future educator could be living in Kaʻu or Molokaʻi or Hana or Kauaʻi and doesn’t have to leave their community or island to become an educator. The full-tuition scholarship with wraparound services including place-based cultural engagement increases the chances of graduation and prepares aspiring teachers for serving our keiki well. With more qualified kumu, we can restore and expand preschool seats,” said Sarsona.

Scholarship applications are being accepted now with a requirement to complete a student-teaching track. Students will be paired with an academic advisor to guide them on the road to graduation. Applications are open to all Hawaiʻi residents with additional consideration extended to those of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Recruitment and admittance priority will also be given to early childhood education applicants.

“We are excited to announce this partnership with Kamehameha Schools, which directly addresses one of our most pressing community issues: a teacher shortage,” said Chaminade University President Dr. Lynn Babington. “By providing these scholarships, we’re removing barriers that too often hinder many working adults in the state from obtaining a bachelor’s degree while still maintaining family and work commitments.”

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