Maui Business

Kamehameha Scholars Program Wins National Honor

March 31, 2017, 3:54 PM HST
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Kamehameha Scholars, the statewide community education program which assists public and private high school students in reaching higher education goals, has won national recognition by the American School Counselor Association, the first community education program in the nation to receive the ASCA honor.

The Kamehameha Scholars program specifically offers college and career planning for students starting from the 9th grade.  The latest round of applications are due by April 28, 2017. Kamehameha Schools’ policy is to give preference to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law.

Created in 2003 as part of Kamehameha Schools’ community outreach efforts to serve more Native Hawaiian youth, Kamehameha Scholars serves students from public and private schools statewide, and allows them to match their skills and interests with colleges and career options for future planning.

ASCA has named Kamehameha Scholars a Recognized ASCA Model Program. The RAMP designation, awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA National Model, recognizes programs that are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment.

Since the program’s inception, over 650 schools have been designated as RAMP recipients. This is the first time the RAMP designation has been awarded to a community education program, a program that serves students from schools across Hawai‘i.


The program is open to students in grades 9-12 who reside on the islands of Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and Kaua‘i. In school year 2015-16, the program served a total of 720 students who represented most of the private and public schools across the state. Charter and home-school students were also in the program.


Kamehameha Scholars is not a traditional brick-and-mortar school program but provides a counseling curriculum to students based upon ASCA’s National Model. Students enter the application-based program by attending an orientation for new scholars during the summer prior to their first year in the program. Workshops and other counseling activities are held during non-school times—primarily weekends, evenings, and school intersessions—at various times during the school year.

“This recognition is a great honor,” said Kūamahi Community Education Managing Director Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona. Kūamahi is a division within Kamehameha Schools’ Community Engagement and Resources Group, which focuses on connecting KS and community resources to address educational needs specific to individual communities.

“As a year-round career guidance and college prep program, Kamehameha Scholars plays an important role in creating systemic changes that can improve the educational well-being of Native Hawaiians in areas such as graduating high school on time, boosting enrollment in college, and increasing on-time college graduation rates,” Sarsona added. “With these outcomes, we believe Hawai‘i will produce even more local and global leaders. It’s what drives our investment in this program.”


“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA assistant director. “These programs used data to drive their program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. RAMP designation distinguishes these programs and encourages school counselors nationwide to strive for excellence.”

“As a data-driven program, Kamehameha Scholars uses data that helps us to continue to evolve as an effective school counseling program. We see where our students need additional services and where they are surpassing their goals, and program changes can be made accordingly,” said Kamehameha Scholars Program Manager Lovina Hudson. “The transformation and changes that have occurred in the program over time have proven to be beneficial for our students and their futures.”

“The workforce and leadership development training in this progam is crucial to lifelong success for individuals as well as for creating a thriving Lāhui. We believe that individual success means success for our entire community, and it’s great to see that our values align with the ASCA criteria,” said Sarsona. The program’s targeted outcomes include:

  • Increase on-time high school graduation rates.
  • Increase college readiness.
  • Increase college aspirations.
  • Increase postsecondary enrollment rates.

In striving to reach those outcomes, the program’s data includes statistics that so far show Kamehameha Scholars graduates are:

  • Graduating from high school on time at a much higher rate than Native Hawaiians in the state of Hawai‘i as a whole (100% vs. 72%) and higher than the overall graduation rate for the state of Hawai‘i (80%).”
  • Continuing to be accepted into college at high rate. In school year 2014-2015, 96% of scholars were accepted into a postsecondary institution. That number was 97% in the previous school year.

Students are held to high standards. They are expected to attend workshops, complete assignments, meet regularly with their counselors, and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 at their schools in order to remain enrolled in the program. Parents and guardians are also required to attend several events during the year.

Staff includes ten counselors that span across O‘ahu, East and West Hawai‘i, Maui and Kaua‘i.

Kamehameha Scholars will be honored at a recognition ceremony at ASCA’s annual conference in Denver, Colo., on July 10, 2017, for making an exemplary commitment to comprehensive school counseling programs.

Kamehameha Scholars.

Kamehameha Scholars.

Kamehameha Scholars.

Kamehameha Scholars.

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