Niuhelewai Scholars Project

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"Before choosing your life's road....give us ONE YEAR...!"

The Niuhelewai Scholars Project is part of the UHCC system-wide 13th Year Initiative and is modeled after Kauaʻi Community College's Waiʻaleʻale Project. Each campus' program is funded by a generous donor and Honolulu Community College is grateful to receive support from the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation, Inc., a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to helping Hawaiʻi's students achieve their educational and career goals.

Niuhelewai Scholars provides Honolulu residents with an opportunity to try college for free. Niuhelewai is the name of the ʻili upon which Honolulu Community College sits and was also the name of a stream that once flowed through the campus area. The name literally translated means "coconut moving waters" and refers to the coconuts that would all from trees that used to line Niuhelewai Stream and travel downstream. We believe this name provides an apt metaphor for the journey that participating students will embark upon while attending school. The program provides scholarships and academic support to participants to attain certificates and associates degrees at Honolulu Community College or just to try taking a few college courses!

Services Offered

The program currently offers the following to students accepted into the program:

  • Financial support to cover 100% of tuition, books, and fees during the first year.
  • Academic, career, and financial aid guidance
  • First Year Experience program to support learners during their initial year at the college.
  • Upon successful completion of the first year, additional support for tuition, books, and fees up to an Associates Degree!


Eligibility for the program is limited to Honolulu residents who:

  • Have not attended a college or university previously.
  • Have demonstrated financial need that creates a barrier to entering college.
  • Will not be able to attend college without the Niuhelewai Scholars scholarship.

In addition, please note that:

  • Students accepted into the program must be a state resident as determined by the UH common application.
  • Students who do not have a high school diploma or GED may not be eligible for services.
  • Priority is given to incoming high school graduates.

How to Apply

All applicants to Niuhelewai Scholars must be referred by a "affiliate." The strength of referral is a primary consideration during the application review process. Affiliates should demonstrate in their referral that the applicant meets the eligibility requirements using specific examples and information where possible. Affiliates are also encouraged to keep abreast of, and support, their student's progress once they have enrolled at the college. Please visit this link to complete a referral. In addition to a referral, applicants must also complete an application. Please visit this link to complete an online application. Please note that the program only accepts students for fall enrollment. Both the application and referral form must be completed in order to be considered. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Notes for to continue supporting your student in college:

Studies show that students are more likely to do better if they feel that somebody cares about their educational success. For this reason, affiliates are encouraged to support their student throughout their academic career at Honolulu CC. Some small but meaningful things that affiliates can do to support their students include:

  • Congratulate them on being accepted as a Niuhelewai Scholars scholar and on their decision to attend college!
  • Ask them if they need help with the enrollment process to Honolulu CC. (Offer your help or refer them to us for more detailed assistance.)
  • Show an interest in their college pursuits: ask them how their classes are going, whether they're having any challenges, etc.
  • Make a point to call or talk to them during the first two weeks of the semester (August 26 - Sep. 6) to see how they're doing and whether they need any help.
  • Call or talk to them at least once during the semester to check on them.
  • If you become aware of a challenge that the student is having during the semester (transportation, childcare, falling behind in classes, non-attendance), please let us know as soon as possible so we can try to help. (Phone: 845-9176; email:

Application and Enrollment Timeline

The Niuhelewai Scholars Program is still accepting applications!

All applications received by April 30 will be reviewed for eligibility and completeness from April 30 - May 10. Applicants and Referrers will be notified of the status of their applications by May 15.

If accepted, scholars must attend mandatory program orientations in early June and complete intake paperwork. Following the program orientation, staff will assist students with the enrollment process, including completing the general UH application, attending a New Student Registration session, and applying for financial aid.

Throughout the summer, program staff will maintain contact with scholars to prepare them for their first semester. TThe first day of instruction for Fall 2021 is August 23, 2021.

For More Information

Jo Ann Tuifanu, Niuhelewai Scholars Student Support Coordinator, 808-845-9447,

Kaleialoha Lum-Ho, Niuhelewai Scholars Program Coordinator, 845-9176,

Paul Kalani Kaʻawa Flores, Jr., Niuhelewai Scholars Program Coordinator, 845-9489,

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