`Ano`ai kakou… As we start the New Year off, I feel it is important to highlight all of the positive things that have been happening at OHA.
A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
OHA Chairman Robert Lindsey is working hard to make sure that everyone at OHA has a voice and that their concerns are heard.
Chair Lindsey has supported me every step of the way as I take over as the new Chairperson of the Asset & Resource Management (ARM) Committee. It is refreshing to finally work with a Chair that doesn’t let his personal feelings get in the way of doing what is right for OHA and its beneficiaries.
In March, Trustees will review grant applications that will make $8.9 million in OHA grant funds available to community-based nonprofits that can help address key priorities for bettering the conditions of Native Hawaiians. Trustees will need to approve between 30 and 35 grants for a two-year period between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2017.
OHA will request $7.4 million in state funds during the upcoming 2015 Hawai‘i legislative session. If approved, the biggest impact will be felt in social services, where an estimated 7,250 Native Hawaiians are targeted to receive the support they need to help prevent debilitating debt, unemployment, and homelessness.
In 2014, Trustees awarded 17 Hawaiian-focused charter schools a $1.5 million grant for the 2013-2014 school year. The grant is helping Native Hawaiian charter schools keep pace with growing enrollment, which had increased to 4,224 from 4,033 the year before.
In 2014, Trustees approved a combined total of $870,000 in scholarship money to help Native Hawaiian students pay for college in a time of rising tuition costs. The average awarded to 354 Native Hawaiian students last year was $2,458. The total amount of college scholarships that OHA has given out over the past five years totals to about $3.5 million.
FACILITATING NATION BUILDING
Trustees are committed this year to facilitate the next steps in a process that empowers Native Hawaiians to participate in building a governing entity. The effort has drawn broad-based support from Hawaiian leaders who are prepared to help shape the process and outcome, with OHA serving as a facilitator and supporter.
REVENUE FROM RENTALS
More than a year after the BOT approved the acquisition of OHA’s headquarters on Nimitz, the building has finally achieved a 90 percent occupancy rate. By comparison, the occupancy rate was only 65 percent in November 2013 when we moved in.