KA‘I Programs (Kūkulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani)

The KA‘I Programs are committed to the long-term empowerment and positive growth of Pālolo Valley youth.

Since 2010, KA‘I has grown as a community partnership between ‘Iolani School and Pālolo Valley and now includes the KA‘I Keiki early childhood education program, the KA‘I Kūlana postsecendary program, and the School Year Tutoring Program.

Through a single community focus on Pālolo Valley, the KA‘I programs have been able to build strong partnerships within the community, respond to real needs as they arise, retain nearly every student enrolled in the 6-year summer program, and have educational outcomes that far exceed state and national averages. The KA’I program has had the opportunity to serve over 250 young scholars from Palolo Valley, ranging in age from Pre-kindergarten to Post-secondary.


KA‘I believes strongly in the mindset that students can become the best version of themselves when immersed in the right environments and when given access to transformative opportunities. Over the course of their KA‘I experience, students immerse themselves into a world of experiences designed to build their social and emotional wellbeing and academic competencies. Students work closely alongside their teachers, peers, and mentors to become lifelong learners and leaders in their community.


KA‘I, or Kūkulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani, translates to “Creation of Leaders.” KA‘I holds the belief that as with many other intelligences, leadership is a malleable intelligence that can be grown over time. Our core leadership curriculum is the cornerstone of the KA‘I Programs and is the most integral component to the KA‘I student experience. At its core, our leadership classes emphasize the importance of our students making good choices for themselves, their families, and their community.


Less than three miles from ‘Iolani School’s campus, lies the community of Pālolo Valley. In the Hawaiian language, Pālolo translates to ‘clay’. It is our vision that our KA‘I students will help to mold their community in a positive way. Through our comprehensive programs, KA‘I students learn to promote the wellbeing of their communities and feel empowered to be catalysts for change in the world that they live in.


Summer KA‘I Program

The Summer KA‘I, Kūkulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani (“The Creation of Leaders”), Program is a partnership between ‘Iolani School and Jarrett Middle School that is designed to counteract the learning loss that underserved youth experience over the summer by engaging students in a free, high-quality, 6-summer program at ‘Iolani School during their middle and high school years. The KA‘I Program is currently in its 10th summer, supporting 72 current 7-12th grade students along with 43 graduates. The summer program includes 2 meals a day, academic enrichment courses, DOE-credit courses for

KA’I high school students, a leadership class, and college and career counseling. The KA’I Program has an overall 95% retention rate of its students over the past 10 years and an overall attendance rate of 98% over the summer.

KA‘I Keiki

The KA‘I Keiki Program is a partnership between ‘Iolani School and the Pālolo ‘Ohana Learning Center that was created to provide early childhood education to preschool-aged children living in the Pālolo public housing. Programming focuses on developing social, emotional, and cognitive skills necessary for school readiness in a welcoming and joyful school environment. This program has served over 150 3-5 year olds in the past 5 summers and also works with Head Start at Pālolo Elementary to help families register their 3 and 4 year-olds so that children can continue their learning during the school year. The KA‘I Keiki Program fills a critical education gap in Pālolo Valley as it remains the earlychildhood program that serves the greatest number of preschool-aged children from the Pālolo public housing.

School Year Tutoring Program

The School Year Tutoring Program provides personalized weekly academic tutoring and support for all KA‘I students during the school year. Through this tutoring program, KA’I students receive an additional 150-175 hours of academic tutoring throughout the school year, particularly in the areas of math, reading, and writing. The objective of this program is to improve students’ academic skills and personal resilience, thereby better preparing them for success in high school, postsecondary education, careers, and beyond.

KA‘I Kūlana

In 2015, KA‘I expanded its reach to support its high school graduates through the critical next phase of their educational journey through the KA‘I Kūlana Program. The program’s mission is to appropriately match students with a postsecondary option with minimal or no debt, and support them to and through their pathways to completion. Compared to the Hawai‘i state averages, KA‘I has been significantly more successful in helping students graduate from high school and especially in supporting students in postsecondary matriculation. The current college matriculation rate for our KA‘I students is 88% upon completion of high school.


To increase early childhood learning opportunities for children in Pālolo Valley by providing a free early childhood summer program to better prepare them for kindergarten.

To raise the high school graduation and postsecondary matriculation and completion rates of Pālolo Valley youth through a long-term academic enrichment summer program at ‘Iolani as well as a year-round wrap-around tutoring program in Pālolo Valley.

To build a cohesive network of educators and community partners dedicated to supporting these students from preschool through postsecondary education to employment.


"KA'I is an open door to success." -- Flomi, Class of 2020

"KA'I doesn't just last from 6th to 12th grade. It lasts for life. Even after we leave KA'I, we always have a place in this family." -- Rojelle, Class of 2018

"KA'I means to immerse yourself in positive environments with positive people in it. KA'I has taught me that everything in life depends on having a positive perspective." -- Naomi, Class of 2021

"KA'I has made me more appreciative of not only opportunities but also of the people around me. I wouldn't be who I am today without the people in KA'I." -- Quincy, Class of 2019

"KA'I is a place of opportunity that brings the highest potential out of each student and gives all of us limitless chances to become our best selves." -- Kanani, Class of 2018


The KA‘I Programs are made possible by:

  • ‘Iolani School
  • The McInerny Foundation
  • Bill Reeves and Debbie Berger
  • The Freeman Foundation
  • Honu‘apo
  • Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, Inc.
  • Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation
  • Nan, Inc.
  • The Chamberlin Family Foundation
  • ‘Iolani Alumni Association
  • Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund
  • Sodexo
  • Aloha United Way Donors
  • ... and many generous individuals


The KA‘I Programs are independently funded through educational grants and the generous support of donors. If you are interested in supporting the KA‘I Programs, click here to make a one-time gift!


  • Click here to get started
  • Under “Designated to” select “Other”
  • Type in: “The KA‘I Programs”
  • Donate!

Thank you for your support of the KA‘I Programs and your belief in the KA‘I students!


Allison Ishii Blankenship, Director
(808) 943-2300


Click to download KA‘I Programs info sheet (PDF).