Kawakami Family Fund Supports Adult Learners at Kaua`i Community College

Kauaʻi Community College
Camilla Matsumoto, (808) 245-8280
Comm Relations & Spec Projects, Chancellor's Office
Posted: Oct 3, 2013

Dr. Alice Kawakami and Esther Kawakami-Williams hear student testimonies.
Dr. Alice Kawakami and Esther Kawakami-Williams hear student testimonies.

LIHUE — Kauaʻi Community College’s Waiʻaleʻale Project received a $3,000 contribution from NF Kawakami, HS Kawakami, and Minoru Furugen family funds administered by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.

Kawakami family representatives Dr. Alice J. Kawakami, Esther Kawakami-Williams, and State Representative Derek Kawakami, along with Darcie Yukimura, senior philanthropic services officer for the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, visited Kauaʻi CC to hear first-hand testimonies from Waiʻaleʻale Project students about their college experiences.  These students are striving to obtain degrees in liberal arts, science, education, business education, health education, Hawaiian studies and trades technologies.

The program started in Fall 2010 and in May 2013, the first group of Waiʻaleʻale students received Associates degrees. The program currently services 185 students.  “These students move from not even considering college to thriving in this environment.  This opens doors for them and their families for the rest of their lives,” said Chancellor Helen A. Cox.

The Kawakami family fund, established in 2011, continues the family legacy of helping great causes on Kauaʻi.  In January 2013, Rep. Derek Kawakami with his cousin Esther Kawakami-Williams, vice president of NF Kawakami, Ltd., owner of Kauaʻi Kookie represented the families in providing funding to support the Kauaʻi Interscholastic Federation and the establishment of the island’s first wrestling teams.

“It’s Kauaʻi CC’s turn,” said Dr. Kawakami.  Helping adult learners has been a lifelong mission for Dr. Kawakami, co-founder of the non-profit organization, Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE), which provides services to Native Hawaiians in Waiʻanae, Oʻahu.  Dr. Kawakami was pivotal in establishing and developing the Kukuluao Ka Lama Education Academy, which supports individuals who want to become teachers.  Kauaʻi CC’s Waiʻaleʻale Project, like INPEACE, supports those who want to gain experiences and skills through education.

Kimo Perry, coordinator of the Waiʻaleʻale Project said, “The support from local community-based foundations is very significant because it clearly demonstrates their belief in our program.  It’s critical that the community is behind what we are doing, and so we are extremely appreciative of the support given to our students—our residents of Kauaʻi.”

“The Kawakami and Furugen family’s gift to the Waiʻaleʻale Project is the evidence of their legacy of aloha for Kauai’s community. We thank them for their support and encouragement of the Waiʻaleʻale students,” said Darcie Yukimura, senior philanthropic services officer.