By Thai Luong, Kapi‘o Staff Writer
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Kapiʻolani Community College a $10 million grant to help the college undertake needed renovations and address other specific campus needs.
According to Brandon Higa, a KCC grant development specialist, the Title III (Part F) grant for Native Hawaiian-serving institutions, which was awarded on Oct. 1, will play a key role in KCC’s future development.
“The grant will help expand the college’s capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions,” Higa said. “The grant funds will also allow the campus to better serve students through promoting undergraduate research, as well as better health and wellness.”
The grant will be used to renovate spaces around the campus; help to establish new reading, writing, math centers and labs with trained tutors and mentors; develop a new intensive first year college success course (IS 109); and deliver 40 course sections in current and renovated classrooms each fall. It will also be used to establish a new center that will focus on responsive education for teacher preparation, and promote health and wellness on a healthy campus.
Nāwa‘a Napoleon, chairman of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, is playing a correspondingly important role with the grant. His job is to make sure that the grant serves its purpose by addressing the needs of the Native Hawaiians at KCC and by helping departments link their Title III funding requests to specific positive outcomes for Native Hawaiian students.
“(I) try to connect money that is being given to the school on behalf of Native Hawaiians with learning support for Native Hawaiians,” Napoleon said.
Napoleon also said the grant will help the college achieve one of its key strategic directions — creating 21st century facilities.
“It’s more than making sure that we have computers in the classrooms,” Napoleon said. “It has to also do with making sure that the students can leave the campus and prepared for 21st century careers.”
The Title III funding will be used to help renovate six buildings: Manono, Mokihana, Lama, Kauila, ʻIlima, ʻIliahi and ʻOhia.
Maria Garay, 19, has a class in Mokihana. She is supportive of the renovations that will be happening at KCC.
“It is really exciting,” she said. “A lot of the classes around KCC don’t seem modern. I feel like KCC is a really good school and they deserve this renovation. The Mokihana building is really dirty. The classroom is really compacted and the technology in the class always breaks down, and it really interferes with the class.”
A top priority is the establishment of a “student success campus” that helps students to be better prepared to succeed in a positive environment. Between the renovations, training and expanding, the college would be better able to provide a successful learning campus.
Last year, the Student Success Committee conducted a campus survey aimed at identifying ways that the college could create a campus culture that engages students and promotes student success. The survey found that students wanted the school to increase the availability of counselors, tutors and support services (including financial aid, scholarships and career development), and to improve campus technological support (including better wi-fi access and free printing).
“If we have a campus culture that helps student believes in themselves and removes barriers to their success, they will be motivated to seek out and use the learning support services that we can provide,” wrote KCC librarian Sunny Pai, in a Student Success Committee report.
Higa said the title III grant will be imperative to the foundation of a successful environment by allowing KCC to renovate the buildings around school, create 21st century facilities and produce a student success campus.
“Title III is one of the staple programs which KCC applies for, so it is a very positive sign that the campus was funded,” Higa said. “We have a lot to be thankful for considering how competitive it is to get grant funding these days.”
Robert Franco, director of the Collegeʻs Office for Institutional Effectiveness (OFIE), was the principal writer of the grant. Chancellor Leon Richards serves as the Principal Investigator. Kelli Goya, the College’s Pathways Coordinator, will serve as the grant’s interim project director until a permanent project director is hired.