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Background

I sustain myself with the love of family ~ M. Angelou

History and Background

The Voices of Pacific Island Nations, or VOPIN, is a 501.C.3 nonprofit organization established in 2015 to address the longstanding academic crisis among Pacific Islander (PI) students in Washington State schools. The problem has plagued the PI community for decades and, left unchecked, is likely to grow, potentially having a negative social and economic impact on our state and its affected communities.

Pacific Islander students have been overlooked in educational research. Their educational inequity in Washington State schools is evident as far back as the '70s. According to data published by various organizations such as OSPI (Washington State's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction), Pacific Islander students are frequently at a disadvantage in Washington State schools. They are more likely to come from families who are below the poverty level. A substantial number of students are not meeting the academic standards based on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) state test. Their disciplinary rates are disproportionately higher relative to their total student enrollment. They have one of the highest chronic absenteeism rates and one of the highest dropout rates among students of color.

The PI students' academic crisis is partially obscured due to how Pacific Islander and Asian students are lumped into one category, Asian Pacific Islander (API) or Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI). This categorization unintentionally underrepresents and underserved PI students and their families.

The alarming data have motivated PI parents and grandparents, educators, and PI community members to collectively plan and develop short and long-term strategies to address this crisis. Pacific Islanders are most proud of their cultural identity, expressed through their culture and arts. Through the centuries, their learning style has been hands-on, learning by doing.

Our values define the way we act, individually and collectively. They guide our work and the way we work. Values shape our culture and reflect what's important to us. Our faith, values, culture, and arts have and will remain the fabric of our society.

The VOPIN and community stakeholders look upon our PI youth to be our future leaders and share our history and heritage with others. Therefore, VOPIN is committed to providing high-quality, culturally responsive educational services and resources to achieve educational equity, addressing academic and opportunity inequities, and serving as a bridge to develop stronger relationships between students, schools, families, and the community.