Namahana Public Charter School

Aloha Kanaka ~ Aloha `Āina ~ Aloha i Ke Ao

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Namahana school site

The Dream

North Shore families have long desired a middle and high school close to home. A long round-trip commute to schools in Kapa‘a for North Shore middle and high-schoolers creates challenges for parents to arrange transportation and for students to participate in after-school sports and other extracurricular activities.

Despite decades of community requests and petitions, the Hawaii Department of Education has declined to build a public secondary school on the North Shore.

In 2015, KNSCF circulated a petition that gathered 600 signatures from residents endorsing the idea of a North Shore public charter school. Shortly thereafter, KNSCF formed a small working group to explore the possibility.

A Place to Build a Dream

The prospect of a school took a giant step forward in 2018, when philanthropist Joan Porter—who founded the Anaina Hou Community Park with her late husband, Bill Porter—granted KNSCF a 99-year license for eight acres of land at the Wai Koa Plantation in Kilauea conditioned on the exclusive use of the site for a tuition-free public charter school.

KNSCF then engaged Community Engagement Specialists Kapua Chandler and Jen Luck who spent many months taking the pulse of the community through dozens of listening sessions and small community gatherings of community members and kupuna. In all, more than 200 individuals took part in the community engagement process.

In August, 2019, those findings were presented at a well-attended community event held at the Porter Pavilion at Anaina Hou Community Park. Hawaiian language scholar and Kumu Hula Devin Kamealoha Forrest told the capacity audience about his original archival research into the history of the school’s location. His research and the community engagement process informed the decision to call the planned school Namahana Public Charter School—named for the mountain that overlooks the future site.

Garden Island Newspaper – Namahana gathering support

Namahana Public Charter School: A Reflection of Community Values

Kapua Chandler introduced the school’s values—distilled from the community engagement process—and aligned to core Hawaiian principles of Aloha Kanaka or love and respect for self, family and community; Aloha ‘Āina, love and respect for home, community and the world; and Aloha I Ke Ao, or love and respect local culture and all cultures across the world.

KNSCF also contracted with Big Picture Learning (BPL) an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that specializes in school development to work with Kapua Chandler to create a place-based, student-centered curriculum and school model that is challenging and relevant for our North Shore families. Namahana Public Charter School will feature:

  • Student-centered learning
  • Maker Space
  • High-School Internships
  • Individual Mentoring
  • Agricultural and Sustainability Focus

Next Steps

KNSCF’s team of consultants and volunteers will submit an application to the Hawaii Charter Commission in early May. If approved, a provisional charter will be granted in September with a set of performance milestones to be met during a one-year period. Once those conditions are met, a five-year charter contract will be awarded. We hope to open 7th and 8th grade classes for the 2022 school year.

Meanwhile, we will be issuing an RFP for architectural design services during the summer of 2020 and begin an ambitious capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to build out the campus. Thanks to KNSCF volunteers over the last few years, we have raised enough funding to cover the early preliminary phase, but we will need to raise significantly more.

Plans arise from hopes and dreams. We hope you understand that in sharing these hopes and dreams, circumstances may change—and so may our plans and we cannot guarantee that what we plan today will develop exactly as described. But with your help, the dreams and hopes for Namahana Public Charter School can become a reality.


Public Meeting Held to Reveal Findings of our Community Engagement Plan

Community Members arriving at the Public Meeting held on August 10, 2019.

After many months of Listening Sessions and small gatherings of community members and kupuna, we revealed our findings at a well-attended Public Meeting event held at the Porter Pavilion at Anaina Hou Community Park on Saturday, August 10, 2019. 

Our Community Engagement Specialists, Kapua Chandler and Jen Luck, correlated all the raw data from the input of over 200 community members. Kapua translated all their findings into relevant Core Hawaiian Values.  In the process, one of our esteemed advisors, Kumu Hula Devin Kamealoha Forrest, researched the history of the ahupuaʻa where the school is located and has provided us with the school name: Namahana Public Charter School!

We shared all of our findings and talked story about how these values were determined. The abbreviated report was available at the meeting. 

Mahalo nui loa for joining us at our Public Meeting event. KNSCF and the Let’s Build A School Steering Committee members are grateful for your support.  The incredible turn-out at this meeting will help demonstrate to the State Charter Commission that we have the community backing to bring this school to fruition when we are able to apply for our Charter!

If you want to volunteer, donate, or find out more, please contact us at

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress in every society, in every family.”  — Kofi Annan.

Donate Now!  ~~  Volunteer Today!

It has always been our intention to create a tuition-free community-centered school where our children can thrive and learn the values we cherish while studying an exceptional curriculum based on their individual passions and talents.

The Kauai North Shore Community Foundation (KNSCF) has been working with community members over the last few years to assess the potential for a public charter tuition-free middle/high school on the North Shore.  In 2018, we received a commitment for a 99-year renewable land license for eight acres in Kalihiwai donated by Joan Porter to the school. Several grassroots events have raised seed funding to pay for permits, education, and design consultants.

Our core volunteer group has formed a Steering Committee consisting of parents, community members, business owners, and educators. The skills represented include nonprofit management, education program management, teaching, strategic planning, fundraising, architecture, landscape contracting, computer programming, real estate investment, community development, farming, law, grant writing, and marketing.  We have three working sub-committees: Fundraising, Facilities, and Educational Design. We also have an Educator Advisory Group made up of local educators and school administrators who will support the planning process.

To develop and carry out a robust community outreach effort, we hired consultants Kapua Chandler and Jennifer Luck to create and implement a plan to engage our community and gather information. Over the last several months, with Kapua and Jen at the helm, we organized Listening Sessions in Hā‘ena, Hanalei, and Kīlauea; conducted a survey; and met with community members and stakeholders to gather feedback about the vision and values that community members would like to see in a public tuition-free middle and high school. This fall, we will host a public forum and present the findings to the community (stay tuned for the date and time). After this event, we will publicly release a report.

If you missed a Listening Session, please sign up for our email updates.

There are many components in building a school. Right now, our Steering Committee and its subcommittees are looking into each element from necessary environmental and traffic studies to required infrastructure to the history of the land usage in the Wai Koa area. Our facilities committee is actively engaged in talking with various professionals to determine the next steps in designing the school. Our fundraising subcommittee is researching grant and private funding and determining the next steps to move us forward into the capital campaign. As we begin to flesh out the needs and desires of the community, we will firm up plans in both facilities and curriculum development.  This, in turn, will inform the funds we will need to complete the build, hire the School Leader (Principal), and hire teachers and staff. No hand is idle in this effort.  

We created a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to provide basic information about the charter school. 

Of course, things will change along the way, and as they do, we will record them here and send out email updates to those who subscribe to our mailing list.

Our community is important to us and we invite everyone to share their ideas, hopes, and dreams for an outstanding tuition-free public charter school that serves our North Shore residents. 

Quick Facts

Structure: Tuition-free public charter school
Grades Served: 7th through 12th
School Size: 350 students
Location: Kalihiwai, Kilauea
Campus Size: 8 acres
School Model: Place-based, student-centered focus with an emphasis on personalized learning.
Charter Application: Submission planned for the next application cycle.
Target Opening: Planned between 2022 and 2025.

How You Can Help

We invite you to become involved in our efforts! You can subscribe to our email list, fill out our Volunteer Form, and/or Donate!  Email us at to find out more!  

*For more information on charter schools in Hawaii, please click here to watch the video.

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