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

The ‘Iolani School KA‘I Programs provide free, high-quality education programs and comprehensive support to under-resourced youth from Pālolo Valley.

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 postsecondary 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 six-year summer program, and have educational outcomes that far exceed state and national averages.

Over the past 11 years, the KAʻI Programs have had the opportunity to serve over 315 young scholars from Pālolo Valley, ranging in age from 2-year-olds to 22-year-olds in college.


KA‘I strongly believes that students become the best version of themselves when immersed in a positive environment and given access to transformative educational opportunities. Over the course of their KA‘I experience, our students experience a world of opportunities at ʻIolani School that are designed to build their social and emotional wellbeing and academic competencies. Students work closely alongside their teachers, peers, and mentors, tapping into their boundless potential and becoming leaders in their community.


KA‘I, or Kūkulu Alaka‘i ‘Iolani, translates to the “Creation of Leaders.” KA‘I holds the belief that as with many other intelligences, leadership is a malleable intelligence that is developed over time. Our leadership curriculum is the cornerstone of the KA‘I Program and is the most integral component to the KA‘I student experience, teaching critical life skills such as teamwork, service, communication and postsecondary readiness.


Less than three miles from ‘Iolani School’s campus lies the community of Pālolo Valley. In Hawaiian Pālolo translates to ‘clay’. It is our vision that our KA‘I students will take what they learn through the KAʻI Program and be empowered to be catalysts for positive change in their community.

About the KA‘I Programs

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 usually experience over the summer. By engaging students in a free, high-quality, six-summer program at ‘Iolani School during their middle and high school years, KAʻI has been able to greatly increase the high school graduation and college matriculation rate of first generation, under-resourced students from Pālolo Valley. In its 12th year, the Summer KAʻI Program supports 72 current 7-12th grade students along with 62 graduates. The KAʻI Program has an overall 94% retention rate of its students over the past 12 years and an overall attendance rate of 98% over the summer.

KA‘I Keiki

The KA‘I KA‘I Keiki Program is a partnership between ‘Iolani School and the Pālolo ‘Ohana Learning Center that was created in 2015 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 nearly 200 2-5 year olds in the past 6 summers and also works with Head Start and the new DOE Preschool at Pālolo Elementary to help families register their children so they 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 early childhood program that serves the greatest number of preschool-aged children from the Pālolo public housing.

School Year Tutoring Program

The School Year Tutoring Program started in 2017 to provide personalized daily academic tutoring and support for all KA‘I students during the school year. Through this tutoring program, KAʻI 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, better preparing them for success in high school, postsecondary education 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 (Postsecondary) Program. This program’s mission is to match KAʻI students with an appropriate postsecondary option and provide intensive support to ensure that they are able to get to and through their pathways to completion. Through the generous support of Honu‘apo and the Takitani Foundation, this program is able to provide full tuition gap scholarships to each KA‘I student in college, ensuring that students graduate debt-free. KAʻI students have graduated from or currently attend: USC, Stanford University, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University, Saint Martin’s University, Missouri Valley College, Kapiʻolani Community College and Honolulu Community College.



  • To drastically increase access to early childhood learning opportunities for children living in the Pālolo Valley public housing by providing a free, high quality early childhood summer program and bridging families to preschool programs during the school year.
  • 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 improve life outcomes for economically-disadvantaged, first generation college students by building a cohesive network of educators and community partners dedicated to supporting them in postsecondary education and employment.

Meet our students

"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

Ka‘I info sheet (PDF)


The KA‘I Programs are made possible by:

  • ‘Iolani School
  • The McInerny Foundation
  • Bill Reeves and Debbie Berger
  • Honu‘apo
  • The Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, Inc.
  • The Freeman Foundation
  • The Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation
  • Nan, Inc.
  • ‘Iolani Alumni Association
  • The Chamberlin Family Foundation
  • The Fujieki Family Foundation
  • The Healy Foundation
  • 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