Maui News

New program connects Hawai’i schools with hospitality industry resources

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File photo of high school students learning about the hospitality industry during a ClimbHi event hosted by the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association. Photo Courtesy: MHLA

Hawaiʻi nonprofit ClimbHI has launched Hospitality for Me, a new statewide program that connects schools with hospitality industry resources to enhance education and job readiness for high school students.

The first-of-its-kind initiative aligns with the Hawai‘i Department of Education’s expansion from six to 13 Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways.

Hospitality, tourism and recreation will break off from human services and become its own pathway in the 2023-2024 academic year. Schools will continue to offer the ClimbHI Service Excellence Certificate curriculum with training in Hawai‘i’s world-class service, Hawaiian culture and renowned hospitality education from Cornell University. 

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“It is critical that we support schools with much-needed resources to make hospitality education a standard offering statewide,” said Julie Morikawa, president and founder of ClimbHI. “Together we can showcase the benefits of the industry, support school needs, and support the dreams of so many students to achieve economic self-sufficiency in Hawai‘i.”

Each public school’s pathway offerings are limited by budget, qualified teacher availability and resources. Hospitality for Me opens communication between the hospitality industry and school leadership to remove barriers to offering the new hospitality, tourism and recreation pathway. Resources – including teacher support, ClimbHI Service Excellence Certificate sponsorships and on-site learning events – are tailored to best meet individual classroom needs. 

Hospitality for Me is supported by hospitality industry leaders, businesses and organizations.

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The program already is helping classes in Hawai‘i by connecting educators with experienced industry professionals to offer hands-on, in-classroom and virtual learning opportunities. The program has directly involved administrators and educators from the Maui, West Hawai‘i and Campbell-Kapolei complex areas on O’ahu, and is actively seeking involvement from other complexes across Hawai‘i.

“Business partnerships provide the opportunity for schools to extend learning beyond our classrooms,” said Sean S. Tajima, Complex Area Superintendent, Campbell-Kapolei. “They promote educational relevance by allowing us to connect our curriculum to real-time career experiences.

ClimbHI provides an easily accessible portal that provides a plethora of partnerships available to schools. Services such as guest speakers, site visits and support with project-based learning can be sought through their portal. 

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“This valuable service is applicable to elementary, middle, and high schools,” Tajima said. “Our hope is that all schools will use ClimbHI as a means to expand education beyond our classrooms to make learning relevant for our students to help prepare them for potential careers.”

Founding partners include Hawai‘i Women in Lodging & Tourism, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association Hawai‘i Island Chapter, Mauna Kea Resort and the Fairmont Orchid. 

“When we encourage public-private partnerships to support our local workforce and enhance career and learning opportunities for our keiki, everyone wins,” said John De Fries, Hawai’i Tourism Authority president and CEO.

ClimbHI is also inviting businesses, associations and nonprofit organizations to sign up for the ClimbHI Bridge online portal. This free portal provides opportunities for students and teachers, including guest speaking, career fair participation and mentorships. 

A wide range of opportunities are available. To get involved or for additional information, e-mail [email protected]

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