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Strength & Leadership

March 2022 Newsletter


Thank You and Congratulations! We are finally here. This is our first newsletter publication made possible by your generous and continuous donations to the mission and vision of VOPIN. VOPIN has come a long way, and your time and resources have helped us get here. We are grateful to all who started this journey with us, especially to our Board of Directors (past and present), Donors, Volunteers, and Community Members.

We hope and pray that you will continue to support VOPIN. Your generous support and donations allow VOPIN to inspire Pasefika (Pacific Islander) children and families by providing high-quality, culturally responsive services and resources to address educational and opportunity inequities. VOPIN will serve as a bridge to develop stronger relationships between students, schools, families, and the community.


The Voices of Pacific Island Nations (VOPIN) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization serving the Pacific Islander (PI) community of Kitsap County and the surrounding areas (King and Pierce Counties). The Pacific Region or Oceania consists of three subregions: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 604,000 Asian Americans and 70,000 Pacific Islanders in Washington State.

In 2009, OSPI (Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) launched the Comprehensive Education Data and Research System (CEDARS), a longitudinal data warehouse of educational data, which enabled the collection of disaggregated data for the following AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) ethnicities: Asian American - Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian. Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander - Native Hawaiian, Fijian, Guamanian/Chamorro, Mariana Islander, Melanesian, Samoan, Tongan, and Other Pacific Islander (

Pacific Islander students are often overlooked in educational research. One major contributing factor is the misrepresentation of PI students as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students. The unintended consequence of combining Asian American and Pacific Islander students, for a long time, has masked the real need and urgency for academic interventions for PI students--Findings suggest that Pacific Islander students in Washington are at a great disadvantage with lower levels of academic performance and school engagement. Hence, whenever their data are combined into one category, Asian Americans predominate and the representation of Pacific Islanders is lost. Treating the two groups as a single community of Asian Pacific Islander Americans hinders an examination of the distinctiveness of Pacific Islander students and their educational experience (Hune and Yeo, 2010).

In the era of technological advancement, every student should have a better chance of flourishing in the classroom. However, this is not the case for PI students. Pacific Islanders students continue to struggle due to multiple stress factors. Given the available data and the lack of intervention to combat their continuous low academic achievement, the long-term impact on this segment of our community is immeasurable...

The Future of our Pacific Islander Communities

The future of our PI communities is in the hands of our younger generation. Preparing our youth and young adults for the challenges and the uncertainty of the future is fundamentally vital for our community's future and preserving our history and heritage. Developing and teaching confidence and respectable young leaders our morals and values will establish a just society for all!

However, navigating and obtaining educational services for our PI children and families is noted as a low priority by institutions that prioritize equality. Children in families with low incomes are less likely to enter school well-prepared for success because of limited access to high-quality daycare, early education, and health care:

Almost half of Washington's PI live below 200% percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Of all US-born ethnicities, PI has the highest rate of Working Poverty (14%).

In 2017, WA unemployment dipped to some of the lowest rates in recorded history (4.5%), but for PI, it remained at 10%, the peak unemployment rate at the height of the Great Recession.

PI students in WA are more likely to face food insecurity. More than one fifth (21%) of PI 10th graders report their families to have to reduce or skip meals due to food insecurity, significantly higher than 12% (Whites 10th graders), 7% (Asian 10th graders), and 13% (Overall average of all 10th graders).

Nearly 40,000 (3.7%) WA public school students are homeless, and PI students have homelessness rates at two to three times above the state average (WA SB&PC, Dec. 2017).  

There is no discord that education is the equalizer of society. The success of our children is the success for all! VOPIN will provide high-quality, culturally responsive services and resources that address the challenges of PI students and families so that they can excel in today's world and make a positive influence in the future.

Thank You for your generous and continuous support for our children's future!

Youth Leadership & Development

Earn a stipend and scholarship while serving your community:

VOPIN is seeking two motivated students to serve on its Board of Directors. We appreciate your interest in applying, and a representative will get back to you in a timely manner.

Follow this link to apply.

Moving Forward

PI students have some of the lowest academic achievement among students of color. This longstanding academic crisis of our students has plagued the PI community for decades. 

At the beginning of 2022, the Bremerton School District (BSD) and VOPIN signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to provide mentoring and tutoring services to students at Bremerton High School (BSH), especially Pacific Islander (PI) students. The opportunity to provide direct educational services for our children is a win-win for BSD/BHS and VOPIN.

The vision of VOPIN is to continue and expand its services to other districts in Kitsap, Pierce, and King counties. 

Pacific Identity

Hau'ofa was born to Tongan missionary parents working in Papua New Guinea. At his death, he was a citizen of Fiji, living in Suva. Hau'ofa attended school in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Fiji. He attended several universities and obtained his Ph.D. in social anthropology from the Australia National University. 

Hau'ofa authored several books during his career as a scholar and poet: We are the sea, We are the ocean. Oceania is Us ~ Oceania is vast, Oceania is expanding, Oceania is hospitable and generous, Oceania is humanity rising from the depths of brine and regions of fire deeper still, Oceania is us. We are the sea, we are the ocean, we must wake up to this ancient truth and together use it to overturn all hegemonic views that aim ultimately to confine us again, physically and psychologically, in the tiny spaces which we have resisted accepting as our sole appointed place, and from which we have recently liberated ourselves. We must not allow anyone to belittle us again, and take away our freedom. 

Scholarship Opportunity

City of Bremerton - Mayor's Youth Leadership Award is an opportunity to recognize exceptional youth in our community. One Bremerton students will be selected for a scholarship award. 

Please see eligibility and application details- the deadline for submission is Friday, March 11, 2022.

Give to Change Lives!

VOPIN joined Kitsap Community Foundation (KCF) in a fundraising campaign to support local nonprofits. 

Early giving start Friday, April 1, 2022

Kitsap Great Give April 19, 2022

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