Hawaii to receive $50M federal education grant for literacy

December 23, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Education won a federal grant of nearly $50 million for a long-term effort to enhance literacy among children, officials said.

Education officials said the grant will be used to foster skills from infancy through high school, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

The Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant spans five years and will focus on disadvantaged students, officials said.

The state education department will begin seeking applicants in January for the effort that will use techniques grounded in data.


The funds will supplement current instruction combined with other approaches known to be effective, from family education and engagement to ensuring educators at all levels have necessary tools and training, officials said.

“This is an opportunity to really look at the needs of our most vulnerable learners and to intentionally design opportunities that draw on their strengths and show them that they are valued and that we care about them,” education department Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami said.

The $49.8 million grant will be divided among grade levels, with 40% to elementary schools, 40% to secondary schools and 15% to early education from birth to age 5. The remaining 5% at the state level will cover grant administration and program monitoring, officials said.

“It’s going to be very targeted,” said Donna Lum Kagawa, state assistant superintendent for curriculum and instructional design. “(Applicants) need to be very strategic and implementing evidence-based practices that will truly make a difference. It’s not just any strategies.”

Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, a collaboration of state education entities, will distribute funds for the early education category through community organizations serving families and early learners, officials said.

“We know that getting an early start, particularly in literacy, is super important,” said Stephen Schatz, P-20 executive director. “When students start out behind, it’s really hard to catch up. Literacy is foundational to everything else that happens throughout your educational career.”