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Kamehameha Schools-Saint Mark Lutheran School partnership improves access to early learning opportunities

KĀNE‘OHE, O‘ahu - (August 28, 2019) – Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Saint Mark Lutheran School (SMLS) are aligning resources to help Windward O‘ahu families acquire high-quality early childhood education for their keiki.

The collaboration helps to address the state’s shortage of classroom seats for preschool-aged children. According to the University of Hawai‘i’s 2017 Early Learning Needs Assessment, there is only one licensed childcare seat available for every four children under the age of six. 

“Saint Mark is honored and humbled to have forged this special collaboration with Kamehameha Schools,” said SMLS Head of School Dr. R. David Gaudi, Jr. “This program is not only increasing access to early learning in Windward O‘ahu, but it is also providing many keiki with opportunities that they might not otherwise have ever been afforded.”

The partnership agreement was announced yesterday at a ceremony held at SMLS’ new 11,000-square-foot Early Learning Center in Kāneʻohe.

The two-year pact, which goes into effect for the 2019-20 school year, includes up to $320,000 in tuition assistance from KS, research and data sharing between schools, and wrap-around support for families.

“This early learning partnership helps our keiki to be ready for kindergarten so they are not left behind,” KS CEO Jack Wong said. “In our Native Hawaiian community, we look at education as our way of empowering our keiki, that’s why this is so important to us. Our ability to see education not just on our campuses, but across entire communities is critical for our success and we are grateful for this opportunity to partner with Saint Mark Lutheran School to uplift all of our haumāna.”

SMLS is another example of KS’ commitment to creating educational systems change by collaborating with other institutions to offer high-quality learning opportunities to more Native Hawaiian learners.

“It’s inspiring to see different organizations come together for our keiki. When we work together like this, amazing things can happen for our community,” said Dr. Jamee Miller, KS regional director for Ko‘olau and Waialua.

KS provides early learning support through its 29 preschool sites statewide, which serve more than 1,600 learners annually. Further assistance is provided through the Pauahi Keiki Scholars program – a need-based scholarship that awarded over $43 million in financial aid over the past three years to keiki attending approved, non-KS preschools throughout Hawaiʻi.

“As we work towards improving the well-being of the community, it’s crucial that we collaborate with others to create impact throughout a child’s educational journey,” said Wong. “Mahalo to Dr. Gaudi and the rest of the SMLS ʻohana for sharing in this commitment as we work together to nurture the next generation of ‘ōiwi leaders.”

To learn more about the SMLS Early Learning Program, visit


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