Inspiring Purpose

A Punahou education develops values and character as much as it does intellectual or physical ability, preparing children for a lifetime of personal fulfillment, authenticity and purpose. While our students may be dramatically diverse in personality and interests, they embody the core values central to our institutional culture: empathy, collaboration, creativity, innovation, social responsibility, global awareness and moral leadership. The attentive cultivation of these values is what sets them apart in the world and what inspires Punahou graduates to a lifelong sense of personal and public purpose. Goal: $25 million.

Punahou’s sustainability program is driven by the goal of deepening the School’s commitment to social and environmental sustainability in its operations, campus culture and curriculum. Designed around a set of challenges that calls the community to adopt best practices and reach measurable goals, the program convenes faculty, students and administrators in efforts to share Punahou’s commitment to a more sustainable future for Hawai‘i and the world.


Public and private school partnerships. The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program was launched by Punahou School as a historic partnership with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education to help public school students from challenging circumstances develop the skills and confidence to attain their college aspirations. Students remain with the PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) program for seven years, taking supplementary and credit courses at Punahou each summer to prepare for college and life beyond. Serving more than 300 middle- and high-school students from 64 partner schools, PUEO is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country and is made possible solely through philanthropic support.

Global education. Wo International Center is a model for education that encourages appreciation of cultural diversity and global responsibility among K – 12 students and faculty. In an era when understanding other cultures is a vital skill for children as they prepare to live and work in a global society, the center has become a conduit for collaboration among schools locally and internationally. Its programs include intensive language instruction, study abroad and summer trips for Punahou and non-Punahou students, seminars and professional development for educators from around the world. Wo’s programs are a bridge to the international community and academic institutions worldwide. Currently, only 200 Punahou students each year have the opportunity to participate in international education trips; the main barrier is financial. Campaign funding will create more study abroad opportunities for students, while expanding global education experiences at home.

Social responsibility. As an expression of Punahou’s commitment to be a “private school with a public purpose,” Luke Center for Public Service inspires service learning and social entrepreneurship from kindergarten through grade 12. It is the nucleus of curricular and non-curricular activities that encourages students to build a culture of public purpose at Punahou while also contributing to the broader community. Thousands of students have assumed volunteer leadership roles and projects since the center’s founding in 2004, and our goal is to increase opportunities for students, faculty and community leaders to explore relevant, real-world action that improves the lives of others as a core educational value at Punahou.

Hawaiian Studies have been a key feature of the School curriculum for decades, enriched and inspired by Punahou’s unique roots in island history. The program exposes all K – 12 students to core values and concepts in Hawaiian culture. Other goals include deepening children’s sense of place, and encouraging a sense of responsibility, or kuleana, to care for their island home.

Signature elements of Hawaiian Studies include the third-grade curriculum, in which Hawai‘i forms the basis for all learning; the fifth-grade trip to Hawai‘i Island; the seventh-grade focus on Hawaiian language, social studies and outdoor education; and our Hawaiian language classes from grades 7 – 12, one of only two such independent school programs in the state.

Punahou’s involvement in Hokule‘a’s Worldwide Voyage is directly supported by the Hawaiian Studies program. Faculty and students are actively incorporating lessons around the voyage’s themes of culture, aloha and malama honua (caring for the earth) into K – 12 curriculum and sharing their learning with the educational community in Hawai‘i and beyond.

Spiritual and character education is an integral part of Punahou’s mission and a critical dimension of educating the whole child. An emphasis on moral and spiritual development is experienced in classrooms, through community service programs, in Chapel and related experiences, as a graduation requirement in the Academy curriculum, and in the School’s ethos and daily life.

Integration and collaboration. A coordinated K – 12 approach to the School’s educational program is essential to constructing a continuum of experience that leverages Punahou’s diverse cross-campus resources and builds partnerships that cut across grade levels and curriculum boundaries. This collaboration among our different programs, learning centers and initiatives will create a multiplier effect so that Punahou students are culturally fluent and socially responsible; effective communicators and creative problem-solvers; committed to serving their communities but also passionate global citizens with good hearts.

Sustaining the Promise of Punahou

One of the hallmarks of a Punahou education is paying forward the gift of learning. The School has thrived for 175 years thanks to the generosity of generations who came before us – people who believed in sustaining the quality of education that takes place here. Grounded in a long tradition of support from dedicated alumni, families and friends, Punahou has successfully built upon its founding gifts. We launch a new era of growth by celebrating the culture of philanthropy that brought us this far and by challenging ourselves to raise our sights even higher.

The Punahou Fund is the vehicle through which the generosity of the School’s community is realized. Unrestricted annual giving is crucial to carrying out Punahou’s mission and adapting to a rapidly changing educational landscape. These gifts, which come from a wide range of alumni, faculty, staff and families, are one of the most important sources of non-tuition support for our students and teachers, allowing the School to respond swiftly to immediate needs and also to think expansively and ambitiously when planning for future programs. The Ku‘u Punahou campaign will underscore the importance of unrestricted annual gifts, both large and small, in strengthening a culture of philanthropy that can sustain the School in the long-term. Goal: $15 million.