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Hawaiʻi Hospitality Industry Sponsors Certificate Program for HS Students

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Hawai’i workforce development nonprofit ClimbHI runs a Department of Education hospitality program to help high school students be more prepared when they enter the workforce.

Hawaiʻi high school students can receive credentials from a nationally renowned hospitality program this year for free due to new sponsorships from hospitality industry leaders.  

The Service Excellence Certificate, earned through the Hawaiʻi Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education Hospitality Pathway program, helps graduates be more prepared for the workforce. The Certificate portion began in January 2020 by Hawai’i workforce development nonprofit ClimbHI with funding from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

The Certificate has been renewed for the 2021-2022 academic year, becoming a permanent part of the state’s Career and Technical Education curriculum. 


“Our hospitality leaders are generously supporting a program that will pay dividends for these students and the Hawai’i workforce for years to come,” said Julie Morikawa, president and founder of ClimbHI. “This incredible public-private effort is especially appreciated during the most challenging of times for our hospitality industry.”

ClimbHI has trained dozens of Hawai’i teachers to lead discussions in the coursework. Student training is provided across nine modules, which can be completed remotely. More than 600 students have finished the program, and nearly 1,000 students from 13 high schools statewide are expected to participate during the fall semester. 

“It’s exciting that we are able to continue to offer this world-class curriculum to our students,” said Jill Tanaka, a teacher in the Public and Human Services Academy at Kapolei High School. “This program is the perfect fit with our Hospitality Pathway, to strengthen customer service skills. Providing these opportunities without an added fee makes this program much more accessible for our students.”


Tanaka’s classes received 50 fall semester sponsorships from Residence Inn by Marriott in Kapolei.

The curriculum was exclusively developed in partnership with the School of Hotel Administration at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, one of the leading hospitality administration programs in the world.

Upon completion of the program, students receive a Service Excellence Certificate of Achievement from Cornell University and ClimbHI. Courses cover skills development, managing customer interactions and Aloha Spirit Law as outlined in the Hawai’i Revised Statutes (HRS 5-7.5). 


Sponsors include: Prince Resorts, Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, Ka‘anapali Beach Resort Association Foundation, Mauna Kea Resort, Residence Inn by Marriott in Kapolei, Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club, The Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikīkī Beach, Highgate and Waikīkī Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.  

“The Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association counts education among its three core pillars, and we have been committed to investing in and supporting the future leaders of the hospitality industry,” HLTA President & CEO Mufi Hannemann said.

For additional information on the Service Excellence Certificate program, e-mail [email protected]

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