Aha Pūnana Leo
A teacher and student at an ʻAha Pūnana Leo Hawaiian language nest preschool.

$300K Grant for Hawaiian Language Preschools to Increase Proficiency

ʻAha Pūnana Leo

The Administration for Native Americans has awarded the ʻAha Pūnana Leo Hawaiian language nest preschools in Hawaii a $300,000 grant for the first year of a three-year grant project. The project will enhance and strengthen Pūnana Leo’s quality and impact in the Native Hawaiian community through increasing language proficiency and the professional capabilities of its staff.

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The grant will be used for historical research, the development of teacher guides and staff training at the annual week-long ʻAha Nuʻukia Summer Intensive train and through Semi-Annual Meetings—the only professional development and early childhood education training conducted entirely through Hawaiian.

“This grant will enable us to continue to provide training for our staff who work with children as well as develop more material for our children and families,” said ʻAha Pūnana Leo’s Project Director Kēhaulani Shintani. “It will also fund teacher trainings that are critical to ensuring the high standard of our language revitalization program statewide.”

This grant is the second of its kind awarded to the ʻAha Pūnana Leo by the Administration for Native Americans. A previous grant helped to pilot a Hawaiian medium teacher education program that has provided 62 Pūnana Leo teachers with college level credits through 9 Hawaiian language courses and 6 Hawaiian medium Early Childhood Education courses.

Although Hawaiian is one of two official languages in the State of Hawaiʻi, most early childhood education training and materials are available only in the English language. To date, very little of the states’ resources have been used for Hawaiian medium early childhood education. Pūnana Leo has been working diligently through the support of grants such as this to create materials to support students and their families and provide Hawaiian medium teacher training equal to that supported in English schools.

ʻAha Pūnana Leo operates 11 preschools on five islands, two infant and toddler programs, and works in partnership with four charter Hawaiian medium K-12 sites on four islands. ʻAha Pūnana Leo is also the first early education program conducted through an endangered and indigenous language to be accredited by World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) and is a member of a consortium of internationally recognized schools, organizations and university programs in Hawaiʻi dedicated to reestablishing Hawaiian as the first and main language of the home.

For more information, visit AhaPunanaLeo.org.

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