Our students are visual, hands on learners. This program offers all the motivation to start there, but to go beyond.

- PALS Tutor

Place-Based Cultural Projects

PALS provides relevant and highly engaging after-school learning experiences for children in grades 3 to 5 through a place-based cultural project (PBCP) curricular framework grounded in multiple bodies of research. This framework draws upon both the environment and the community as organizational starting points and contains the following critical elements.


  • Learning through projects — Extended projects allow children and teachers to pursue important questions and topics together.


  • Place-based — Projects within PALS take up a topic, an issue, or a commitment grounded in the local community of Wai'anae or the larger community of Hawai'i. Projects might take an environmental focus, explore the history of the place, or highlight contemporary people or leaders within the community.


  • Active, hands-on learning experiences — Projects privilege doing as a means for learning. Children are involved in planting and harvesting kalo or other crops. They perform their learning through hip hop and hula, participate in slam poetry, and build aquaponics systems.


  • Caring adult mentors — Children in PALS develop strong bonds with adults who are their teachers and community mentors. A low teacher/student ratio (1 to 8) in the elementary, after-school program ensures the opportunity for caring relationships and at the middle and high school level PALS students and teachers benefit from ongoing support from PALS staff and community members.


  • The arts — Learning through and learning about the arts are important to the place-based cultural project learning in PALS. Children are exposed to a variety of ancient Hawaiian arts as well as contemporary visual, musical, and performing arts.


  • Multiple literacies — Children encounter many opportunities to acquire multiple literacies through projects. Whether it is researching mo'olelo, writing and filming Public Service Announcements, or creating procedural manuals for constructing worm bins, literacy is acquired and practiced in authentic contexts.



University of Hawai'i at Manoa

Student Equity, Excellence & Diversity (SEED)

2600 Campus Rd., QLSSC 413

Honolulu, HI 96822

PALS (Place-based After-school Literacy Support)