Pilina Education

Head of Experience, Co-Founder | 2021-Present
How might we empower students to explore their passions and enable them to find meaningful career opportunities in Hawaii?
Since January 2022, we’ve welcomed over 370 passionate, diverse, and caring students across four cohorts to journey with us and explore their interests in different fields. Our 15 unique offerings span from a marine science pathway with Ph.D. researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography to a Spotlight on the film, tv, and theater industry with award-winning producers. By bringing together industry leaders across Hawaii, from AI experts to Entertainment pros, students have unprecedented options for learning about their passions.

Pilina’s programs break down traditional borders and provide students across Hawaii access to high-quality educational experiences - no matter where they live. We have worked with more than 40 schools across Hawaii, including public, charter, private, remote, and homeschooled students. Our technology loan program and student-centric focus help us reach any student, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Program Design
Pilina started with an observation and an idea. Born from the jarring educational shift to virtual learning in 2020, steep inequality in student learning outcomes showed that the traditional education system needed to be fixed. Students were disengaged with their learning: staring asynchronously at a screen is boring, they felt distant from their educational environment, and, most importantly, they didn't see the relevance between what was being taught in school and the huge societal problems happening in their community. At Pilina, I designed and implemented a new learning model that directly links education, industry, and community. We created pathways into different fields that students could explore.

Designing the program was just the start. After successfully raising over $600,000 of funding in January of 2022, we needed to deliver on our promises. I hired new industry professionals, teachers, and peer mentors, created an onboarding experience that gives everyone the building blocks to create engaging semester-long career-based learning courses, deployed our online learning software suite, designed and ran intensive training sessions, branded and launched our website, reached out to students, families, and educational leaders in the community, created a comprehensive evaluation and feedback system that included weekly exit tickets tied to key success metrics, quarterly focus group feedback sessions, passively collected engagement data, and pre/post surveys aligned with industry-standard educational metrics, and ran classes with students.
Growth & Fundraising
Pilina needed a plan to grow and sustainably deliver its content as an early-stage company. I created business plans, roadmaps, budgets, and pitch decks to align the team and share with sponsors.

Recognizing the need to bridge the gap between education, industry, and community, I created a business model incorporating corporate sponsors, community professionals, and educators to deliver high-quality content to high school students. We are currently in talks with the Hawai'i Department of Education (DOE) to pilot courses for public school students to provide career-based learning pathways as a service to the DOE.

In addition, we are currently working with industry partners willing to sponsor pathways specific to their industry as a method of workforce development and community service. In addition, I helped cultivate partnerships with philanthropic sponsors and community partners.  Starting with an initial cultivation plan that charted who would be highly aligned partners, how we would build a relationship with them, and what that relationship would look like, I worked with a small team to create new relationships with partnerships around Hawai'i. As a result of this work, we raised over $600,000, formed in-kind partnerships with three community organizations, and collaborated with Hawai'i's Department of Education.