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New scholarship fund offers students flexibility

The Maui News

First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawai’i Community Foundation announced the Stronger Together Hawai’i Scholarship Fund to support career readiness in Hawaii’s 2020 public high school graduates.

First Hawaiian Bank and Hawai’i Community Foundation contributed $1 million each to seed the fund to support this year’s graduating cohort, whose school year was cut short due to COVID-19.

To allow 2020 public school graduates the opportunity to pursue their own desired path, the fund steps out of the box of traditional scholarships and is designed to be student-centered, providing flexible funding for college or vocational degrees, or certificate programs at accredited institutions in Hawaii or out of the state.

Scholarships will be awarded on a case-by-case basis, and funding can cover traditional educational expenses, such as tuition and books, or other emergency expenses that may threaten to derail a student who does not have a financial safety net.

“We recognize that each senior has their own story and their own needs,” said Bob Harrison, chairman, president and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank. “The Stronger Together Hawai’i Scholarship fund is designed to remove as many barriers as possible for this year’s high school graduates by offering flexible funding, and a range of continuing education options to encourage students to pursue their dreams — and be supported in the process.” 

To be eligible for scholarship funds, 2020 Hawaii public school graduates must participate in the Next Steps to Your Future program of the University of Hawaii and P20. The program provides adviser support and free UH community college courses on career exploration to help graduating seniors transition to post-high school education or job training. More information on Next Steps to Your Future can be found at uhcc.hawaii.edu/nextstep/.

Graduating public school seniors who are from low to middle income families will receive priority and Neighbor Island graduates are encouraged to apply. Fund officials remind students that geography may no longer be a barrier, given that coursework for many programs are now entirely online.

First Hawaiian Bank and HCF hope other donors will contribute, enabling the fund to help a greater number of students affected by COVID-19 this year and students who are in need in future years.

Donations may be made at www.strongertogetherhawaii.org. Online applications will be available in July, and updates will be posted at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/students. 

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