Windward Community College says it will develop a Hawaiian immersion childcare center and improve its science, technology, engineering and math programs with a new $9.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant, which lasts five years and is titled “Hanai a ulu: Feed and Grow—Nurturing student parents and STEM at Windward Community College,” is aimed at enhancing Native Hawaiian students’ success. Forty-two percent of the college’s students identify as Native Hawaiian.

windward community college

Windward Community College will use its $9.9 million grant to support Native Hawaiian education.

University of Hawaii

WCC is the only community college in the state without a childcare center. The center — which as an immersion program will feature instruction in the Hawaiian language — will also feature a counselor and textbook library, according to a press release.

“If a student does not have reliable care for their child, how can they attend classes, study, and succeed in college?” said Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ardis Eschenberg in a statement. “This grant works to provide childcare services for our student parents so that they can grow and succeed in college, which helps their keiki to grow and succeed.”

The grant will also be used to renovate the colleges STEM facilities — virtual and physical — to increase student participation and success in those fields. The idea is to enhance technology, data access and opportunities for laboratory experience.

WCC has been increasing the number of STEM-based degrees and certificates, including a Certificate of Achievement in Agripharmatech, which incorporates classes on Native Hawaiian botany and plant use.

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