First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawaii Community Foundation on Tuesday announced the Stronger Together Hawaii Scholarship Fund to support career readiness for Hawaii’s 2020 public high school graduates.
First Hawaiian Bank and Hawaii Community Foundation contributed $1 million each for a total of $2 million to seed the fund to support this year’s graduating cohort, whose school year and critical planning months were cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To allow 2020 public school graduates the opportunity to pursue their own desired path, this fund steps out of the box of a traditional scholarship and is designed to be student-centered, providing flexible funding for a college or vocational degree, or a certificate program at accredited institutions in Hawaii or out of the state.
Scholarships will be awarded on a case-by-case basis, and funding can cover traditional educational expenses such as tuition and books or other emergency expenses that might threaten to derail a student who does not have a financial safety net from furthering their education.
“We recognize that each senior has their own story and their own needs,” said Bob Harrison, chairman, president and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank. “The Stronger Together Hawaii Scholarship fund is designed to remove as many barriers as possible for this year’s high school graduates by offering flexible funding, and a range of continuing education options to encourage students to pursue their dreams — and be supported in the process.”
To be eligible for scholarship funds, 2020 Hawaii public school graduates must participate in the Next Steps to Your Future program of the University of Hawaii and P20, which was announced earlier this month. The program provides adviser support and free UH community college courses on career exploration to help graduating seniors transition to post-high school education or job training.
More information about Next Steps to Your Future can be found at http://uhcc.hawaii.edu/nextstep/.
Graduating public school seniors who are from low- to middle-income families will receive priority, and neighbor island graduates are encouraged to apply, with a reminder to students that geography might no longer be a barrier given that coursework for many programs is now entirely online.
“At this time when many families are struggling financially, we are launching a new approach to our scholarships program,” said Micah Kane, president and CEO of Hawaii Community Foundation. “The Stronger Together Hawaii Scholarship Fund will allow graduates to pursue the path that is right for them — whether that is job training or a four-year degree. We believe supporting these students goes beyond investing in their individual futures. Their success is Hawaii’s success, and we are committed to doing all that we can to help them.”
“We cannot thank First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawaii Community Foundation enough for their support of the class of 2020,” said UH President David Lassner. “Their generosity will help students and their families in this time of unprecedented crisis by enabling the gift of post-secondary education and their better future, which represents an investment in a better future for all of Hawaii.”
First Hawaiian and HCF provided the seed funding for the Stronger Together Hawaii Scholarship Fund, which they hope other donors will contribute to, enabling the fund to help a greater number of students affected by COVID-19 this year and students who are in need in future years.
Donations can be made at www.strongertogetherhawaii.org.
Online applications will be available in July, and updates will be posted at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/students.