At a Reflection Workshop, Accounting Professor Richard Kido came up with a question:
Is there anyone helping our public school partners fill out the FAFSA to qualify for monies for college educations? The answer from across the nation was “no” – there was no one with a service-learning program that did so.
So WE built it, and they came!
The idea gained momentum as the perfectness of the fit of such a project became obvious. Whereas higher level accounting classes were filing tax returns for the poor, these lower level students could gain experience for that project by helping with the FAFSA.
Richard called Marketing Professor Peggy Friedman and lured her in; her students’ specialized skills would be a critical piece in the development of a project, because we needed a marketing strategy for our target clients. Candice Sakuda, Service-Learning Director, researched resources, and made connections with Kaimuki High School contacts and others, who got excited about the idea. To pilot the project in a manageable way, the approach was to learn about all the related efforts currently run by the College and Career Transition Center and to augment their efforts through our service-learning students.
A meeting of Richard, Peggy, and Candice brought all the pieces together, and the project was born this spring. All the students from both classes worked together to make it work. The classes had a combined meeting for brainstorming and discussions of the strategies and the cultural/socioeconomic factors in play, and many of the students shared reflections on how they related to the clients through their own life experiences.
There was a real sense of community that grew within each class and across the classes as well. Although the relationships that were arranged through the program were one-on-one, accounting student with client/family, all the students worked together to provide quality service, with the supervision and guidance of their professors.
You may have seen them, presenting their ongoing work together on Service-Learning Day.
The project was so successful that word spread fast. Several other high schools contacted us, inquiring about our ability to help them as well. As an outgrowth of the project, Richard added to our 50,000 hours of service this summer.
Supported by others building up “the hours” – Nolan Kido, Tom Spring, Wayne Tanna, and Candice Sakuda, he helped a group of adults from Palolo Homes to prepare for entering college! Toward their goal of becoming medical assistants, Richard helped them to fill out the FAFSA online, to qualify for tuition at KCC.
There are many bright futures to come for this project.