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Pili A Pa‘a is an educational project that was created to address critical deficits in reading, math and science for Native Hawaiian students on the island of Hawai‘i. The project then added a community school component, Piha me ka Pono, as it recognized that in order for students to succeed, the social emotional and health needs of the family and community needed to be addressed.

Native Hawaiians represent nearly half of the Kohala Complex school’s student population and are at risk because the curriculum was geared towards Western teaching styles that focused on individual effort and competition. Native Hawaiians, on the other hand, strive for achievement and excellence for the benefit of the group and not individual recognition. This project seeks to build teachers’ knowledge of curriculum, Common Core State Standards, and instructional strategies while integrating Native Hawaiian cultural values and processes.

The project provides teachers a two-week intensive training and collaboration period to enhance their teaching practices. Teachers work with an instructional coach to create units of instruction for their respective content area(s). The coach provides critical feedback and research-based instructional strategies to enhance the curriculum development process.

Through this process, teachers will be able to examine and integrate culturally responsive teaching strategies to increase academic achievement not only for Native Hawaiian students but also for all other student groups found at the school. Collaboration between teachers at all schools is embedded in the project to create professional learning communities within and between the schools.



The purpose of Piha me ka Pono is to address all the needs of Kohala Complex students, going beyond academic requirements and looking at the students and their families as a whole picture. Students already struggling with issues like poverty, food insecurity, and poor physical, emotional or mental health are much more likely to struggle in school than their peers. 

The program established a comprehensive network of support with community churches, groups, local politicians, businesses and other organizations to continue expanding its reach in distributing food, school supplies, hygiene products, and other donated products and services.

The project has plans to expand in the near future, providing literacy courses concurrently for adults and kids. Budgeting is more important than ever, as 80% of families in the Kohala community have been impacted by COVID-19's hit on the hospitality industry.

Piha me ka Pono cultivates community partnerships to bring needed academic, health, and social support services for the students and their families.

Our program works to address any needs of the Pili a Pa'a community, including food distribution services and drives. Our staff work alongside the Kohala teachers and principals to make sure families, especially at-risk or in-need, do not fall through the cracks. 

We offer parent-teacher home visits to give Kohala Elementary parents and children an opportunity to build their relationship. Teachers help parents find their childʻs hopes and aspirations without discussing academics. This allows for the parents and children to understand each other, get in touch with their culture, and positively reinforce how to obtain their recognized goals. The program is not mandated, but is encouraged through voluntary participation between teacher, parent, and student. 

One of the project’s goals is to increase academic achievement of disadvantaged and under-served students through the development of after school enrichment programs that provide positive alternatives for students’ free time.

Mentorship uniquely fuse a focus on Empowerment and Sports Conditioning. This program teaches high school students coping skills, constructive communication techniques, and how to reach out to positive adult figures in their lives when help is needed. These outcomes are developed through sports like soccer and baseball. The mentorship connections are made possible by high school coaches wanting to work with the high school students. 

Set to begin at the end of September 2020, the Resilience Hub is a project with Vibrant Hawaiʻi that will provide tutoring and support to kids whose caregivers may not be able to provide support or supervision to during the school day.

The Hub will take place at Overflow Church and initially take in the children of teachers, so that our educators may report to work without worrying about the schooling of their own keiki.

One of 10 centers on Hawaiʻi Island, the Resilience Hub is made possible in part by the CARES Act.

During its first year of operations, Piha me ka Pono offered medical training courses to interested high school students at the North Hawaiʻi Education and Research Center. Students worked in labs and had an opportunity to connect with other high schoolers. The courses were extremely well received and provided the students with the training necessary to immediately begin work in the medical field upon graduation.

Hawaiʻi Energy

Hawaiʻi Energy

Pili A Paʻa has partnered with Hawaiʻi Energy to bring energy efficient appliances into the homes of North Kohala families. Call today and find out more about energy savings options.

Recent News

Recent News

Two Mentorship Programs Receive Fundamental Support to Empower Vulnerable Native Hawaiian Youth Populations

June 6, 2023

Over $120,000 will enable the youth of the Honokaʻa and greater Windward Oʻahu region to benefit from services such as career pathway development and mental health.

Four PIDF programs celebrate Lā ʻOhana in Waimea

June 13, 2022

Tūtū and Me keiki from Hawaiʻi Island’s Waimea and Honokaʻa sites celebrated their end of the year accomplishments with an in-person Lā ʻOhana (family day)! Four PIDF programs participated in the fun: Pili a Paʻa, Project Pilina, Tūtū and Me ʻOhana Support, and Hoʻopalekana Ola.

Community School Manager seeks to spread kindness and hope

May 28, 2022

Pili A Paʻa Community School Manager at the Kohala Complex shares encouraging and positive messages while directing school traffic.

Resilience Hub receives $10,000 from Hawaiian Electric

May 21, 2021

PIDF received a $10,000 grant from Hawaiian Electric to continue the Resilience Hub in Kohala, a project under the Pili a Pa‘a program that provides a safe space for keiki who are doing distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic and whose caregivers are unable to supervise them.