By Malia Blom Hill – Don’t think that I haven’t noticed a certain . . . cynicism coming from many of our analyses of the grants on our 4HawaiiansOnly web site.  I swear that it’s not because I’m a curmudgeon with a skeptical nature.  Well, let’s say that it’s not entirely because of the skeptic/curmudgeon thing.

To be clear: I think that there are great things that can be done to help Native Hawaiians.  I want to see the ones that work get the kudos they deserve.  But this is an area that needs the bright light of transparency like Lady Gaga needs a new stylist.  (Translation for the pop culturally-impaired: It needs it a lot.)

Anyway, lest it be said that we never have anything nice to say about OHA or their grants, let me take the opportunity to bring attention to their K-12 Family Education Assistance Program, which is now accepting applications from Native Hawaiian Families with significant education costs.

In short, these are grants of up to $5000 to Native Hawaiians families who are spending a large proportion of their income in order to send their children to private school.  The point is (obviously) to help give disadvantaged families better access to private education.  (And by extension, better academic and career chances, etc., etc.  Not to disparage public schooling in Hawaii, but . . . um . . . you know, my mom always told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, it’s better to keep my mouth shut.)

Who couldn’t get behind individual scholarships help for disadvantaged Hawaiian families? This is the kind of thing that the trust monies were made for.  Moreover, it’s good to see the effort to help Hawaiians get a better education at the lower grade levels, thereby setting the students up for more success as they get older.

It’s nice that there are college scholarships to help Hawaiians as well, but how many promising kids slip through the cracks and never even get the opportunity to apply to college.

Quite a few education experts feel that we should be focusing our efforts at improving opportunities in primary and secondary education rather than placing so much emphasis on college entrance rates.

Anyway, the deadline for applications to these grants is June 30th, so if you know someone who might be interested, send them to to this page on the OHA website to learn more about requirements, applications, and so on.

Malia Blom Hill is with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii