This past spring, the Liko Ae Native Hawaiian Scholarship Program was awarded a $100,000 grant by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) to provide financial assistance to Native Hawaiian students interested in higher education.
Based at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, Liko Ae began their scholarship program in 2003 with funding from the US Department of Education (DOE) under the Native Hawaiian Education Act, through which the federal government funds councils and programs that appropriate learning programs specifically for Native Hawaiians.
“The goals of Liko Ae is to increase the number of Native Hawaiian students in higher education and to sustain these numbers to graduation,” explains program director, Malia Davidson. With the large number of students who come from lower class families, the program also works towards supporting first generation college students who have limited access to higher education.
So far, the program has given $1.1 million to thousands of Native Hawaiian students attending schools throughout the country focusing on a range of studies such as education, law, medicine and business. Students who live throughout the Islands are required to perform community services for fellow Native Hawaiians. Students abroad provide assistance to native peoples in their area. In 2010, students performed over 5,000 hours of work “while maintaining a satisfactory GPA.”
Scholar Melanie Chan said in a scholarship newsletter, “Being Hawaiian has always imbued me with a certain pride, but it is collective…True wellbeing comes from our sense of and duty to our community. It is the bond we share as kanaka maoli.” Chan is a Ph.D. candidate in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
Six-year scholar, Kaiena Bishaw III is currently seeking a Master’s Science degree at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He said in the same newsletter, “Without Liko Ae, I would not be able to financially support myself…to be very honest, I didn’t see myself attempting a Master’s. I will always, with humility, be most grateful.”
While the program is based at Maui College, Liko Ae has satellite centers at the Kauai, Leeward, and Hawaii Community Colleges. Liko Ae also has partnerships in the continental US, which include the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Program and the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program.
Liko Ae is federally funded and has received various grants from the US DOE, and is able to award only 40-50 percent of their applicant pool.