Since being created in 2004 by Vaughn Vasconcellos KSK’71, the Alaka‘ina Foundation and its board members—Vaughn, Michael Wong KSK’71, James Bacon KSK’71, William Villa KSK’71, David Mortensen KSK’71 and Craig Floro—have been dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders in Hawai‘i through education.
The Native Hawaiian Organization (NHO) recently donated $45,000 to the Pauahi Foundation to establish scholarships in honor of James, William and David.
“Not having financial aid is often a roadblock to pursuing an education, and our goal is to make that possible for Hawaiian learners,” said Philip Kahue, executive director at the Alaka‘ina Foundation.
A check presentation ceremony was held at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Memorial Chapel during Alumni Week this past June. This year’s Alumni Week was the class of 1971’s 45th reunion which allowed their classmates to join in on the celebration with members from the Bacon, Villa and Mortensen ‘ohana.
“All three of them embody what it is to be leaders in our community. These scholarships are just a small token of our appreciation for their service to the foundation and Native Hawaiians in general,” said Philip.
In addition to bearing their names, these scholarships will serve an area of need chosen by each of them.
The James Bacon “Little Bacon Urban Achievers” Scholarship will serve students pursuing an education in vocational arts or a trade. The scholarship will support and educate orphans and others in indigent circumstances, giving preference to Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood and residents of Hilo or Moloka‘i.
The David A. Mortensen (KS’71) – D.A.M. Scholarship Fund will serve those pursuing a career in human services dedicated to public safety—police, fire, EMS, water safety or other agencies with similar responsibilities.
The William “Bill” Villa (KS’71) Scholarship will be offered to students working towards an undergraduate or graduate degree in business. Preference will be given to students from the Wai‘anae Coast attending one of the universities or colleges in Hawai‘i.
“These scholarships are an opportunity, but these students are expected to be leaders and contributors to the advancement of their community,” added Philip.
As an NHO non-profit, Alaka‘ina is allowed to have majority ownership of a Small Business Administration designated 8(a) for-profit firm. Currently, they are the majority owner of Ke‘aki Technologies, Laulima Government Solutions, Kūpono Government Services, and Kāpili Services. A portion of profits from these for-profit companies are contributed to Alaka‘ina and used to benefit the Native Hawaiian community.
Besides scholarships, Alaka‘ina engages in other activities to fulfill its mission. Their Digital Bus program is a unique experience for K-12 students on Maui and Moloka‘i to apply science and technology in the environment. Students engage in field-based projects and incorporate high technology with a state-of-the-art mobile learning platform. Since inception in 2005, the program has reached over 18,500 students on Maui and Moloka‘i.
“Our Digital Bus program gets keiki out of the classroom and into the ocean, lo‘i, or the rainforest for a hands-on experience with high-tech gear,” said Philip. “Seeing them excited about science gets us revved up.”
Other programs supported by Alaka‘ina include the Hogan Entrepreneur program at Chaminade University, Ka Waihona O Ka Na‘auao Public Charter School robotics program, computer equipment and support for the resource center at Kaumakapili Church, martial arts and youth guidance program with Lua Inc., and financial support for a number of JROTC programs locally and on the continent.
“The Alaka‘ina Foundation and the Pauahi Foundation share the same vision of cultivating future leaders through education,” said Pono Ma‘a, interim executive director at the Pauahi Foundation. “ In doing so, we ensure the growth and vibrancy of our Lāhui Hawai‘i!”
To learn more about the Alaka‘ina Foundation visit www.alakainafoundation.org.