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Hawai'i CC Updates: CARES money supports students, distance learning

Note: This column appears in the Oshirase, the newsletter of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawai'i.


It’s been almost a year since the COVID-19 pandemic really began to hit us, and we’ve certainly had our ups and downs.

rachel photo

Fortunately, Hawai‘i Community College has received federal relief funds that have eased the burden somewhat and made it possible for us to support students and make the transition to distance learning, which is a strategy designed to keep the community safer.

I would like to share information about these funds, how they have been used, and also share information that you can view going forward.

From the first CARES Act passed last spring, Hawai‘i Community College received:

  • $573,613 for direct aid to students.
  • $573,613 for institutional support to make the switch to distance learning.
  • An additional $1,037,771 for being a minority-serving institution that can be used for both student aid and institutional support.
  • $575,154 in federal money from Gov. Ige’s Coronavirus Relief Fund that has been devoted mostly to distance learning and remodeling classrooms for social distancing.
  • HI-EMA reimbursement of $47,100 for PPE, sanitation, and cleaning supplies.

In addition, we are receiving approximately $2.57 million from the more recent federal relief bill passed in December 2020. How exactly the second round of funding will be expended hasn’t been determined, but it will include direct student aid and support for instructional equipment, materials and supplies to support online learning.

Fortunately, we were able to quickly get aid directly to students last spring and this fall as they faced numerous challenges arising from the pandemic and the switch to distance learning.

Brenton Barcelona, a student majoring in Creative Media, said student aid was a big help as the pandemic hit and employment for both he and his wife was impacted.

“It allowed me to focus more on school rather than how am I going to get through this month, so it definitely helped,” Barcelona said.

The federal support for health and safety measures, distance learning infrastructure like hardware and software, and professional training have also been incredibly important for ensuring that Hawai‘i CC can continue to deliver education in ways that reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Mahalo to our congressional delegation and our state leadership for securing these funds.

To see Hawai‘i Community College’s CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Reporting, please visit

In memoriam: former Mayor Kenoi, Hawai‘i CC alum, instructor

As you know, former Mayor Billy Kenoi passed away recently. My deepest condolences go out to his ʻohana. Billy believed deeply in the power of education to transform lives, and we were honored to have him as an alumnus, an instructor and a member of our Kauhale. He was a great supporter of our students and the unique mission of community colleges, and he spread the inspirational message far and wide that anyone who has a dream, believes in themselves, and puts in the work can achieve great things. That’s a powerful legacy.


Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas