Kamehameha Schools (KS) is a private charitable educational trust endowed by the will of Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831-1884), the great-granddaughter and last direct descendant of King Kamehameha I.
During her lifetime, Princess Pauahi witnessed the rapid decline of the Hawaiian population. With that decline came a challenge to preserve the Hawaiian language and culture she held dear.
The princess knew that education would be key to the survival of her people, so in an enduring act of aloha, she left them a precious gift upon her passing – 375,000 acres of ancestral land. She instructed the trustees of her estate to use the land to educate her people. Today, her endowment supports an educational system that serves thousands of Hawaiian learners in Hawai‘i and across the nation.
Our Educational Mission
The mission of Kamehameha Schools is to improve the capability and well-being of Hawaiians through education. We achieve our mission by operating an educational system serving over 6,900 students of Hawaiian ancestry at K-12 campuses on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i island, and at 31 preschool sites statewide.
We also extend our educational reach into the community to serve over 40,000 additional learners annually through a range of programs and community collaborations. These efforts include community charter school support and literacy enhancement programs for public school children, making KS the largest private contributor to Hawai‘i’s public school system.
Our educational outreach also includes preschool, K-12 and post-high scholarships enabling Hawaiian learners to attend educational institutions outside of the KS system.
Approximately 98 percent of the support for our educational programs comes from our endowment fund. Program tuition and fees are nominal, and the majority of students receive financial aid or scholarships.
A global, diversified financial assets portfolio makes up two-thirds of Kamehameha’s endowment. Hawai‘i retail, hotel, industrial and office properties comprise the remaining third.
To ensure that the endowment continues to provide educational opportunities to our people in perpetuity, KS takes a long-term approach to its investments and practices prudent management of its trust spending. By policy, we target our annual educational spending at 4 percent of the endowment’s value to balance the needs of the current generation of with those of the future.
As Hawai‘i’s largest private landowner, KS is responsible for the stewardship of over 365,000 acres of land on Hawai‘i island, Maui, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.
A small fraction of Princess Pauahi’s lands are in commercial real estate and properties. Over 358,000 acres of the trust’s lands are dedicated to conservation and agriculture. We actively support diversified agriculture and protect and enhance natural and cultural resources on our lands. We also cultivate an extensive array of land-based cultural education programs through the expertise and commitment of numerous community collaborators.
Our work and energy at Kamehameha Schools is guided by innovative strategic plans that map out the direction of our educational and stewardship efforts in the years to come. Our plans include countless opportunities to broaden and deepen Kamehameha’s impact on the wellbeing of our people through KS programs and with the assistance of dedicated individuals, groups and organizations who share our educational mission.