Year of the Ox: Happy Lunar New Year!

March 1, 2021
February – March 2021 Newsletter

The first new moon of the lunisolar calendar is traditionally celebrated in many east Asian countries as the start of a new year, regulated by the cycles of the moon and the sun. In what seems like a fitting way to describe the flow from last year to this, the Rat reminded us to be nimble and sharp in the face of uncertainty, while the Ox now encourages us to be steadfast and true as we build strong foundations for the future.

We wish all of you a Happy New Year and hope that these first few weeks of the new lunisolar year brought you as much joy, refreshing new experiences, and time for reflection as it did for our team at EI. As always, we are humbled and grateful for the support of so many, and the opportunity to work with such amazing people across Hawaiʻi and beyond. Mahalo mahalo mahalo!

New Beginnings

Please join us in welcoming Tina Tagad to our team! Tina joins EI with years of experience working with Hawaiʻi organizations and youth; we first met Tina as a participant in our first Foundations of ALOHA cohort in May 2020, and have been together ever since!

Most recently, Tina worked as COO for The Estria Foundation (TEF), an arts education nonprofit that brings creative programming like it’s signature Mele Murals across the state. Tina is passionate about working with others that support or promote opportunities for youth, considers joining EI and working alongside Miki and Hye Jung an amazing opportunity to continue to learn and grow within the communities we serve. In her free time, Tina enjoys spending time with her ʻohana, and being in service of ʻāina. “I find when we mālama ʻāina it is in those moments of quiet and connection that bring the most gratitude and harmony!”

We are so excited to take the next steps of our collective journeys together!

Foundations of ALOHA

In February, we closed our 6th cohort of Foundations of ALOHA, and welcomed our 7th! With this cohort, we continue to hold space for our families and youth to build ALOHA practices into our lives and homes; and an exciting new addition is our very first official educator cohort! We are grateful for all the teachers who signed up within days of the registration going live, and to the Office of Hawaiian Education for the support and guidance in helping to braid ALOHA practices and Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) as part of this professional development opportunity. For those who were not able to register for the February cohort due to capacity, we have a few spots open in the second educator cohort starting on April 18th; PDE3 credits and hours are available for HIDOE teachers. If you are interested in signing up for our program, please feel free to register with us via this link; if you are eligible and desire to register for the PDE3 section, please search for IS186325, Section 304547. We will be sending updated info to all registrants as the course launch date approaches. Every cohort helps us to learn and grow in our practice, as well as provides us an opportunity for input from our cohort members. Mahalo nui for all of our Foundations of ALOHA ʻohana who contributed to helping us evolve over the many months we have been growing this program.


Home as Pānānā

Supported by the Office of Hawaiian Education, EI is offering two different 2-hour sessions focused on Home as Pānānā during the HIDOE Spring Break. We hope you can join us for one or both!

  • Tuesday, March 16 1-3pm: Puʻuhonua – Explore ways to create safe spaces in and around your home for your family’s health, well-being, and happiness. Join us as we discuss and create palekana like peace pinwheels, gratitude jars, and mood movers.
  • Thursday, March 18 1-3pm: Kilo – Create a centered space in or around your home for building your relationship with the sun, moon, stars, and other environmental features around us. Join us to explore the Hawaiian star compass, sundials, and names of clouds, winds and rains in our communities.

A kit will be sent to participating families for each of the sessions. Please register at by March 10 to receive your supplies before the session. We hope you and your ʻohana can join us!


Kealahou Initiative

What an amazing opportunity to meet passionate ʻōpio of Hawaiʻi! Our second Kealahou Initiative (Kī) cohort took the form of a virtual three-day intensive in February, where young innovators developed and shared creative solutions and ideas for businesses, social movements, and policies to help move us towards a thriving Hawaiʻi. Mahalo to all the ʻōpio who chose to spend the weekend with us and we look forward to supporting everybody in their endeavors. The next Kī Cohort launches the weekend of March 12 – 14, a virtual 36-hour intensive startup experience that then leads to a pitch presentation on March 18. Visit to apply. All workshops will be held virtually; strong preference is given to Native Hawaiian applicants.

Compassionate Koʻolaupoko

We have had the pleasure of meeting so many passionate and creative educators and community members through the Compassionate Koʻolaupoko initiative! Via design-thinking related workshops and trainings, teams from 7 schools and several community organizations of the Koʻolaupoko community (Windward Oʻahu) are in the process of creating user-centered, grounded approaches to building a compassionate and caring Koʻolaupoko community and ecosystem to support our youth and families. We are so inspired by all the amazing work of the teams and their members, and we look forward to supporting the growth and refinement of this work!

Hawaiʻi Online Portal for Education Project

As we briefly mentioned in our January newsletter, EI is humbled to be facilitating HOPE, the Hawaiʻi Online Portal for Education Project, a partnership of the University of Hawaiʻi System, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) and the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools (HAIS). Funded under a larger initiative of the State of Hawaiʻi and the U.S. Department of Education through the Governor’s Office, HOPE is one of several strands of the Governor’s fund meant to address various aspects of building strong educational foundations for Hawaiʻi students, teachers, and communities, aiming for a stronger future with lessons learned and opportunities found during our time in distance-learning and our experiences with digital content. HOPE is solely focused on capacity- and resource-building for Hawaiʻi educators to create and adapt digital curriculum and that is by Hawaiʻi teachers, for Hawaiʻi education — public, private, charter, homeschool, and informal. If you would like to hear more about HOPE and join us in our effort to create meaningful and engaging online content for Hawaiʻi education, please register for our upcoming info session.

Education Incubator

Book Nook

When Grit Isn’t Enough
In the spirit of trying new things, we did something a little different for this past Book Nook… a virtual read-reflect group! We invited others to join us in reading When Grit Isn’t Enough by Linda F. Nathan during the month of February; as thoughts came up or we completed a chapter, each of us could log in to a shared document to record our thoughts, wonderings, and inspirations, followed by a live video call at the end of the month to discuss the book and our feels. The format was easy, fun, and engaging — we hope to continue this practice in the future; if you are interested in joining us, please let us know! As for the book itself – many of us agreed that the book covered necessary topics that are difficult to accept as our reality — the hurdles that our young people from vulnerable communities face as they navigate their way from high school to post-high, and the emphasis that is often put on mindsets like “grit” that place the burden of success solely on the child, not acknowledging the inherent biases found in our societal structures and education system. It was a hard read for some of us emotionally, pushing us to reflect on our own lived experiences and how we engage with and support the youth we have kuleana to support as they navigate their way through these systems.

In Case You

Missed It…

2020-21 Teacher Leader Carousel of Resources

Mahalo to Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s Nā Kumu Alakaʻi Teacher Leader Academy (@TLA808) for inviting us to share about our work and opportunities with your amazing cohort of teachers at the 2020-21 Teacher Leader Carousel of Resources! We really enjoyed each session, and want to give a huge shout out to all the teacher leaders, organizations, businesses, and higher education partners who were present!

International Graduate School Conference

Mahalo to East West Center for inviting our CEO Miki to provide the opening keynote of your annual International Graduate School Conference. Miki was able to share teachings of ALOHA that we have learned from Uncle Pono Shim and Auntie Pilahi Paki, as well as lessons learned from Hōkūleʻa’s Worldwide Voyage on aloha, kindness, humility, respect, interconnectedness, and generosity of spirit. She was joined by fellow WWV crewmember Anis Hamidati, who was instrumental in guiding and facilitating the Indonesia leg of the voyage. Thank you Cheng-Cheng, Bonnie, Anis, Dr. Hattori, and the rest of the EWC ʻohana for the opportunity to share messages of ALOHA and mālama honua with your global audience.

2021 Pathways Summit

Mahalo to Hawaiʻi P-20 and the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi for inviting us to share our work-based learning innovation, the Many to Many Model of Reinventing Internships, at your 2021 Pathways Summit. We were able to speak with over a hundred session attendees about the model we prototyped via our Moonshot Lab Hawaiʻi program, and refined in our Innovation With Aloha work. Students form design teams to generate solutions for local companies and organizations; along the way, they gain experience with design thinking, rapid prototyping, graphic design, market research, customer discovery and empathy mapping, unit economics, and public presentations, as well as work side-by-side with industry professionals and content experts while fulfilling authentic needs in our community. Thank you to Kamehameha Schools and Harold K.L. Castle Foundation for your support in this exciting work, and to Hawaiʻi P-20 and the Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to share about it!


This Out!

For those who are part of our Foundations of ALOHA family, you have had the pleasure of meeting Andi, a repeat FOA cohort member and guest instructor for lessons on topics such as pili, pilina and lōkahi. Andi is working with the The Muliwai Initiative and the Citizen Forester Program, and shared with us this opportunity to learn more about “Campus Forester,” a PBL curriculum developed in partnership with the Citizen Foresters Program that supports “building knowledge of and care for our beloved trees.” You can sign up for one of their upcoming info sessions at this Eventbrite page.

If you have any opportunities you would like us to share with our community via newsletter or email, please let us know – we are happy to help spread the word on behalf of others doing great work to build a thriving Hawaiʻi.

Mahalo mahalo mahalo!

We want to dedicate this mahalo specifically to our Foundations of ALOHA cohort members, past and present. Since May, we have been honored to create a space for sharing the wisdom and teachings of Uncle Pono Shim and Auntie Pilahi Paki with over 500 beautiful human beings (and a few regular pet visitors as well!). We have seen some of you almost every day for the past 10 months, greeted in the early morning by your smiling faces, and again in the late afternoon with your stories and laughter. We are indebted to our FOA ʻohana for your love, generosity, support, and friendship — and look forward to our family growing with each cohort, building our foundations of ALOHA for a kind and beautiful world.