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

The KA‘I Programs (Kūkulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani, "Creation of Leaders") began in 2010 as a public-private school partnership between ‘Iolani School and Jarrett Middle School in Pālolo Valley.

KA‘I has since grown as a community partnership with Pālolo Valley, and now includes KA‘I Keiki, KA‘I Kūlana, and a School Year Wrap-Around Tutoring Program. The KA‘I Programs currently serve more than 100 students from preschool to postsecondary education.

The KA‘I Programs are committed to the long-term empowerment and positive growth of Pālolo Valley youth. By partnering with key community stakeholders and connecting students with transformative opportunities and leadership development, the KA‘I Programs seek to create sustainable change for its students and the Pālolo Valley community.


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.


KA‘I Keiki

KA‘I Keiki is a partnership between ‘Iolani School and the Pālolo ‘Ohana Learning Center that began in the summer of 2015 to serve 30+ preschool-aged children living in the Pālolo Public Housing. The KA‘I Keiki program provides a free summer learning program for children who would otherwise not have access to early childhood education before entering kindergarten. Since its inception, KA‘I Keiki has moved into several classrooms at Pālolo Elementary school to serve its growing number of students.

Summer KA‘I Program

The Summer KA‘I Program launched at ‘Iolani School in 2010 as a leadership and academic enrichment program. Each summer, a new cohort of rising 7th grade students from Jarrett Middle School joins the growing ‘ohana of Summer KA‘I students and graduates. Once accepted into the Summer KA‘I Program, students commit to daily summer attendance from 7th grade to 12th grade for six consecutive summers.

The Summer KA‘I Program addresses the “summer slide” and resulting achievement gap that occurs in the summer for underserved youth by engaging students in a free, high-quality program every summer at ‘Iolani School during their middle and high school years. KA‘I has contributed to highly improved high school graduation and college matriculation rates for participants.

Young ‘Iolani alumni as well as KA‘I seniors and graduates serve as student mentors throughout the summer and school year.

KA‘I Kūlana

In 2015, KA‘I expanded its reach to support graduates through the critical next phase of their educational journey through the KA‘I Kūlana Program. Postsecondary education is a key lever for students to actualize their highest potential. This program aims to appropriately match students with a postsecondary option with minimal or no debt, and to support them through their pathways to completion.

Through the KA‘I Kūlana Program, 95% of KA‘I graduates have not only graduated from high school, but have also successfully matriculated into their respective postsecondary options with substantial or full financial scholarships through the guided support of the KA‘I Kūlana Program.

School Year Wrap-Around Tutoring Program

The School Year Wrap-Around Tutoring Program provides personalized weekly academic tutoring and support for all 93 KA‘I students during the school year via an after school program at Jarrett Middle School in Pālolo Valley. 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.


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:

  • Bill Reeves and Debbie Berger
  • The McInerny Foundation
  • Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation
  • Nan, Inc.
  • The Freeman Foundation
  • Honu‘apo
  • The Chamberlin Family Foundation
  • Omidyar ‘Ohana Foundation
  • Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, Inc.
  • American Savings Bank
  • Sodexo
  • Hope Foundation
  • Jarrett Middle School
  • ‘Iolani School
  • ... 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).