Founding Kupuna & History
Maria Suganuma Winona Freitas Rufina Molaka-Lee
Kula No Na Po’e Hawai’i (KULA) was formed in 1992 by a group of concerned community women who sought to improve the educational skills of Homestead children and strengthen relationships between parents and the public school system. Introduced to the community by Dr. Liela Nitta, KULA was originally conceptualized as a community school, providing educational opportunities for children and adults. Community volunteers come together to shape the philosophy, mission, objectives, and programs for a community-based organization dedicated to education.
The organization officially received its 501(c)3 status in 1994 as Kula No Na Po’e Hawai’i o Papakōlea, Kewalo, Kalawahine. Over time, KULA programs evolved to include wellness clinics, education & social programs for youth, nutrition, exercise, traditional Hawaiian healing classes, and literacy fairs.
KULA’s initial boards included kūpuna, Brenda Kekauoha, Leimomi Nahinu, Ester Kekoa, who with the founders invested countless hours in training the current executive team to ensure that KULA programs would focus on literacy, culture, business, and health to lay the foundation for self-determination in the Papakōlea community.