Waialua Elementary students support local non-profits through academic incentive program

As the school year comes to an end, students at Waialua Elementary School were able to “pay it forward” presenting check donations to five local non-profit organizations they selected at a school assembly on Tuesday, May 17. The donation was the motivation behind a pilot academic incentive program, Pay It Forward, which encourages academic achievement while teaching students the importance of philanthropy and public service.

Created by Waialua Elementary School Principal Scott Moore, the incentive program was rolled out at the beginning of this year with confirmed participation from five grade levels including grades one, three, four, six and special education. Each grade level was tasked with selecting a cause and organization to support. By meeting specific academic goals, students would have the opportunity to give back and support their cause and organization of choice with a sponsored monetary donation.

“Our goal at Waialua Elementary School is to give our students a well-rounded education that develops their character as well as their academic skills,” said Moore. “By attaching an intrinsic reward to academic performance, our hope is that our students will feel a profound sense of pride which will result in an ongoing spirit of philanthropy.”

Students selected five non-profit organizations to support including the Friends of the Waialua Bandstand, Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Juvenile Arthritis Foundation Hawaii - Camp Mana'olana, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii and Special Olympics Hawaii.

“At the Arthritis Foundation it is our mission to ‘Pay it Forward’ to all of the kids, moms, dads, and so many more, living with arthritis. We are so grateful to the students of Waialua Elementary School for selecting us for this donation. We couldn't do it without you,” said Maile Kawamura, vice president of market development for Hawaii Arthritis Foundation.

Oahu SPCA Veterinary Technician Lei Hayashi said, “We really appreciate all the work the kids put back into the community and into this project. It’s great to see them work so hard.”

Waialua Elementary School partnered with Monsanto Hawaii to serve as the sponsor of the Pay It Forward program. Monsanto donated $500 to each of the five non-profit organizations on behalf of the students, for a total of $2,500.

“The idea is very similar to a marathon where sponsors make donations on behalf of those running the course,” added Moore. “Monsanto has been a supporter of Waialua Elementary School for many years and we appreciate their dedication to Hawaii’s keiki and our community.”