Advocates for Native Hawaiian Education Since 1994

Our Mo‘olelo

In 1994, three visionary community-minded educators from Kauaʻi and Honolulu came together to create the Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture, more commonly referred to as INPEACE. As Native Hawaiians, both Sherlyn Franklin Goo and Alice Kawakami brought their unique perspectives to the work. Together with Kathy Au, who had been working in Native Hawaiian education for years, they all had a strong commitment to community and culture-based education. Sharing food, traveling together, and having extensive conversations led to the following core principles and beliefs that ground the agency to this day:

The marriage of these ideas, along with relationships in the funding world, led to the birth of our flagship programs, which established the foundation of INPEACE services.



The first program was Ka Lama O Ke Kaialulu, a “grow-your-own-teacher” model, where community members are recruited to become teachers in their own community schools.  This program supported individuals in pursuing college and a career in education, many of whom never dreamed of going to college.  Now, one of the longest standing “Grow Your Own” programs in the nation, Ka Lama would grow over the years to place hundreds of licensed, certified teachers into schools within their community.  Among the first graduates included Larrilyn Tamashiro, a Waiʻanae Coast resident and teacher who later became INPEACE’s board president, and Marci Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, who became the second CEO of INPEACE.



Keiki Steps, the second program, was conceived by Michelle Mahuka, a young mother in the community who saw an ad on television about early childhood programs and wanted something for her child in her own community. Compelled by a passion to ensure that her son would be ready for school, Michelle approached the principal at Nānākuli Elementary about space to house a preschool program. She purchased supplies from local thrift shops and was willing to start her very own program with little else. Michelle’s story was heard by then-CEO, Sherlyn Franklin Goo, who sought and secured a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to run educational programs. Together, the founders started the first parent participation preschools, one in Waimanalo operated and taught by Ka Lama graduate Marci Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, and the second at Nānākuli Elementary taught by Michelle. Keiki Steps has since grown from one site under a tree to multiple sites across the State, on the islands of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and Kaua‘i. The initial growth spurt came from the parents and grandparents at the Nānākuli site, expanding the program to other elementary schools. Today, Keiki Steps is built on a foundation of teaching parents to become their child’s teacher, and continues to intentionally recruit teaching staff from their parent population, supporting them in furthering their education in early childhood education and nurturing their potentials as educators in their communities.



Funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) for Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) began a new chapter in the life of INPEACE. This grassroots effort to help children prepare for school and schools to prepare for children was born out of a relationship based on a presentation Kathy and Sherlyn gave during a pre-session on native peoples at the Council on Foundations here in Hawaiʻi. Three entities in Hawaiʻi were asked to submit proposals to WKKF, and after lunch in Nānākuli, Program Officer Val Johnson saw exactly where the hearts and minds of our founders were when it came to community. SPARK jettisoned INPEACE statewide and allowed us to quadruple the numbers of participants we served and multiply our partnerships one hundred-fold.



Starting with one employee and $4,500 in the bank, INPEACE has grown statewide, serving more than 6,000 annually with nine programs operated by approximately 80 employees and an annual budget of over $5 million. Since 1994, we have employed more than 500 individuals, the majority of whom are Native Hawaiians from the community they serve.

Our Logo

Designed by Dr. Alice J. Kawakami

The puakenikeni was chosen as the INPEACE flower because of its distinctive characteristics. This flower is found throughout the Pacific Islands and is valued as a special lei flower to adorn those held dear. This delicate flower offers a pervasive, compelling, and enduring fragrance. Its color changes from a subtle pale ivory to a warm, deep golden color as it matures. We liken this to the changing stages of growth and maturity of our organization, our programs, and our staff. Our sincere desire is that INPEACE will continue to evolve and change over time, embracing the values of our culture and becoming a cherished part of our communities.


The INPEACE icon also includes peace symbols, a reminder of the 1960s era that, in part, influences the idealism and optimism of the three founders.

inpeace timeline

Founded in 1994

First Board Meeting called to order with three founding board directors: Alice Kawakami, Kathryn Au and Sherlyn Franklin Goo


Adoption of official INPEACE Logo

Directors agrees to use Alice Kawakami’s design inspired by the puakenikeni blossom as the official logo of INPEACE


First Executive Director appointed

Sherlyn Franklin Goo appointed as President of the Board and the first Executive Director of INPEACE


Ka Lama o Ke Kaiāulu Program founded

Hawai‘i Community Foundation accepts proposal for the Ka Lama o Ke Kaiāulu program, which was funded to serve 28 students in the first Ka Lama cohort


Keiki Steps Founded

Parent participation preschool originally called Nanakuli Play Morning is started at Nanakuli Elementary School and at Blanche Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo


INPEACE expands services to Hawai‘i Island

Keiki Steps establishes their first sites on Hawaii Island in Kona, at Kealakehe Homestead, Kahikolu Church, and DHHL Kona at QLCC.


INPEACE expands services to East Hawai‘i Island

Keiki Steps establishes their first site in East Hawai‘i Island at Keaukaha.


Marci Wai‘ale‘ale Sarsona appointed as Executive Director


First Keiki Spring Fest

INPEACE participates in a community collaborative effort to establish the first Keiki Spring Fest on the Wai‘anae Coast

Keiki Steps to Kindergarten Program started

KSTK is established to provide a two- to three-week transition program for keiki state-wide who are entering kindergarten with no previous preschool experience

SPARK program established through dedicated funding

W.K. Kellogg Foundation provides funding for SPARK services on the Wai‘anae Coast

INPEACE expands services to the Island of Moloka‘i

INPEACE expands services to the island of Molokai through the establishment of a Keiki Steps site at Kilohana Elementary


Rae DeCoito served as Interim Executive Director and CFO

Melodie Vega served as Executive Director from 9/2006 - 12/2006

Rae DeCoito was again Interim Executive Director from 12/2006 – 9/30/2007


Dr. Kanoelani Nāone served as Chief Executive Officer from 10/1/2007 – 10/20/2017


INPEACE presents internationally for the first time

Expanding its reach and building international awareness, INPEACE presents internationally for the first time at WIPCE 2008 in Melbourne, Australia


Kūlia I Ka Pono Program started

Post-secondary coaching and support for individuals seeking education and certification to become preschool teachers on the Wai‘anae Coast.


Kupu Ola Program started

Started as a collaborative effort on the Nānākuli Elementary School campus, Kupu Ola would grow to create outdoor classrooms at 11 elementary and preschool sites along the Waianae Coast. 


Digital Storytellers established

Digital Storytellers were established to create video and media that tell the stories of INPEACE’s work in the community, in an effort to build awareness and provide tools for outreach and marketing.


Parents as Teachers Program started

Intensive one-to-one home visiting services, providing education on child development and parenting skills, for parents with children from prenatal to age 3, were established on the Wai‘anae Coast and Moloka‘i.


Ho‘āla Program founded

Extensive outreach to create awareness on the importance of early childhood education for child brain development provided to Wai‘anae Coast families.  Recruitment and assistance with applications for early childhood education programs is provided to ensure the full utilization of these programs for keiki. 



Kūlia & Ka Lama Education Academy started

INPEACE merges Kūlia I Ka Pono with Ka Lama Education Academy (formerly Ka Lama O Ke Kaiāulu) to form Kūlia and Kalama Education Academy, a comprehensive program to recruit, support and place individuals in their efforts to return to college and earn credentials to teach in their home communities. 


Ho‘oulu Waiwai Program started

Free financial capability workshops provided to individuals and families on the Wai‘anae Coast.


Kupu Ola expansion to the Intermediate School

Kupu Ola program expanded to provide culture-based education to at-risk middle school students at Wai‘anae Intermediate School


Keiki Steps receives 10-year WINHEC accreditation

Keiki Steps earns a 10-year accreditation from the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium for their culture-based parent participation preschool programs. 


Keiki Steps celebrates first high school graduating class

Keiki Steps’ alumni graduate from high school.  100% on-time graduation; 100% college-going.


1st annual Wai‘anae Coast Financial Fitness Fair


2Gen Secure Families Program started

Free business development classes provided to families participating in the Keiki Steps or Parents as Teachers programs


National Grow Your Own Initiative started

INPEACE was actively at the table with other Grow Your Own programs across the nation to establish the national Grow Your Own Collective (GYOC).


Ho‘oulu Waiwai begins Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services

In partnership with Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED) offers free income tax preparation services to eligible individuals and families.


Parents as Teachers (PAT) was awarded 5-year Blue Ribbon Certification

Blue Ribbon Designation – October 15, 2017. INPEACE PAT met 17 Essential Requirements and 93% of the Quality Standards.


Maile Keli‘ipio-Acoba appointed on November 16, 2017


INPEACE expands to the Island of Kaua‘i

INPEACE partners with Kamehameha Schools to establishe the Ho‘āla Program on Kaua‘i, to provide ECE outreach, awareness and placement assistance island-wide. Two Keiki Steps expansion sites were also established at Kekaha and Kapa‘a Elementary Schools.


Science Center

INPEACE begins the planning of a traveling science center with start-up funding from the Atherton Foundation.


INPEACE celebrates 25 years with inaugural Jubilee fundraising event

INPEACE hosts Jubilee event at SALT in Kaka‘ako with 150 in attendance.


Early Literacy Project begins

Statewide the project encourages early literacy from birth through grade 12.   INPEACE focuses our work on birth to age 5 by providing evidence-based materials and professional development to teachers and parents in Family Child Interaction Preschools, Center Based Preschools, Family Child Care Centers, and Home Visiting Programs.


Kaulele launches its first official museum-grade indigenous science exhibit

Focused on Hawaiian Culture Based Education and STEM concepts, this project designs and builds traveling exhibits based on Native Hawaiian cultural practices.  The Kapa exhibit is the first full exhibit to be completed and publicly launched.


Establishment of INPEACE Center for Entrepreneurship

Incubator site for small businesses to learn and grow.  We will provide tailored services and an environment for business owners to operate with a minimal fee.


Eo program starts

An after school leadership program grounded in Hawaiian Culture and Place-Based education.


INPEACE Is Funded Through Personal Donations From People Like You.

INPEACE is a nonprofit organization that relies heavily on grants to fund programs and services that strengthen, support, educate and empower our communities. Through donations, we are able to keep our programs free while providing an incredible asset to our community.