The Power of Promise: A Celebration of Punahou's Endowment

"You are the families who have helped build this school," said President Jim Scott '70 to approximately 80 guests gathered at the Punahou President's Pavilion on the afternoon of March 16, 2017.

The occasion was a celebration of donors to the School's endowment, which is currently composed of over 600 funds – the first of which was established in 1859 to support financial aid.

"A 175-year-old history, continuity, tradition and longevity are some of the things that allow a place like Punahou to take the long view," continued Scott. "But it also comes from an endowment that allows us to add value to the educational experience; to create access for talented and accomplished children without family finances becoming an obstacle for admission; and to support programs and teachers. Ultimately, a strong endowment allows us to dream."

Scott shared that expanding the School's endowment is a key component of the Ku'u Punahou Campaign, which aspires to add $60 million to Punahou's endowed funds, currently worth approximately $250 million. "With the help of many of you here, we've already raised about $35 million toward that goal and we hope you continue to support us so that we can secure the financial future of the School."

Punahou Trustee and Chair of the Trustee Investment Committee Connie Hee '70 Lau updated attendees on the endowment's market performance, noting that Punahou's managed endowment has grown by $54 million over the past 10 years but, more importantly, has provided $68 million to support the School's financial aid, faculty and educational programs.

"You all have had that long-term view, recognizing how our endowment allows us to do such incredible things for our students," said Lau. "Many of you represent families that have supported Punahou for years, and your predecessors also had a long-term vision that allowed all of us to benefit from such a superb education.

"There's no doubt in my mind that of all the wonderful schools I've attended and all the wonderful experiences I've had in my life, it was my years at Punahou that really gave me the foundation to achieve what I have. So I thank you all very much for having that foresight."

Current senior Wisdom Matsuzaki described a summer social studies course in Bhutan as "something that has changed my life, taught me who I want to be and what I want to do – both here and beyond Punahou."

One young Bhutanese girl named Tenzin, whom Matsuzaki met in a remote rural village, helped her recognize how lucky she was to have access to such learning experiences, and how many people in the world lack such opportunities. "It made me realize that I want a future where I can help people like her and the Bhutanese who are so altruistically good just because they can be – not because it looks good on a college recommendation or on social media, it's just what they do. Meeting people like them makes you realize that there's still good left in this world."

Matsuzaki explained that the trip, just like her seven years at Punahou, would not have been possible without the help of financial aid.

"Punahou is a place I call home, it's been one of the greatest homes I could have asked for, but I would never have been able to come here if it wasn't for financial aid. You see opportunities at this school and think you can't get them because they cost too much money, you wonder how you can fit in, but Punahou has never made it hard to take advantage of all its opportunities.

"Punahou tells you 'yes,' when the rest of the world is telling you 'no, you're too young, you're not good enough.' Punahou says 'yes, you can. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything you want.'"

View photos from the event