The program you know and love is diving into something exceptionally close to the heart of Hawai‘i — education enriched by cultural values. John Veneri had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa Uyehara, the executive producer of Project Ho‘oku‘i, which stands for “Joining Together for a Brighter Future.”

In operation for an impressive 14 years, Project Ho‘oku‘i has its roots deeply embedded in Hawai‘i’s educational landscape. Through strategic partnerships with the State Department of Education (DOE), the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the UH system at large, the program offers much more than just a leg up academically. It acts as a bridge that connects students in Title One schools, many of whom are Native Hawaiian, to the profound wisdom and practices of their ancestors.

While the program started with a primary focus on early college courses, it has evolved into a comprehensive initiative. Students now have access to a range of wrap-around services, making their path to college not just attainable but also sustainable. This evolution signifies Project Ho‘oku‘i’s commitment to growing alongside the communities it serves. But it doesn’t stop at academics. Project Ho‘oku‘i integrates ‘āina-based learning into its curriculum, thanks to partnerships with organizations steeped in traditional Hawaiian practices. This kind of education teaches the students how to draw from the ancient systems of nature that enabled Hawaiians to live sustainably for centuries. It’s this combination of academic and cultural learning that equips students with the tools they need to approach modern challenges innovatively.

The impact has been resounding. Over 2,500 students have been aided by Project Ho‘oku‘i. Alumni include those who are concluding their doctorate studies and others who have attended prestigious institutions like Stanford and Northwestern. Plus, Native Hawaiians now make up 15% of the student body at UH Mānoa — an encouraging statistic that the program aims to increase. Excitingly, Project Ho‘oku‘i has just received approval for its sixth round of funding, which promises to extend its reach and deepen its impact further. Catch the entire program with Lisa Uyehara on this transformative project tomorrow night at 7 pm, exclusively on KHON2.

For mor information visit