The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation Celebrates First Residents from The Towers at Kuhio Park to Receive Scholarships

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Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie joins Michaels for recognition ceremony, praises resident scholars as 'role models in their community and for everyone throughout the state.'

Hawaii Scholarship Recipients, Kuhio Park Terrace, Michaels Development

From left: Rep. Manahan, Sen. Oakland, Gov. Abercrombie, scholar Faith Otineru, Mike Flores, HUD, Hakim Ouansafi, HPHA, Sen. Kim, Monika Mordasini, Michaels, Stacie Brach, IRM

Michaels is deeply committed to giving back to the communities where we work.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and other community leaders joined executives from The Michaels Organization yesterday to celebrate the academic achievements of four Towers at Kuhio Park residents who have been awarded scholarships from The Michaels Organization Educational Education.

Bonita Babas, Kathleen Mae Labuguen, Faith Otineru, and March Rubon have been awarded scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each, to help defray tuition costs when they begin college this fall. The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation is a nonprofit affiliate of The Michaels Development Company and Interstate Realty Management, which together with the Hawaii Public Housing Authority and local partner The Vitus Group, are spearing the redevelopment and revitalization of the former Kuhio Park Terrace, Hawaii’s largest public housing community.

“It is gratifying to see distinct and truly transformative progress as we continue our work to revitalize The Towers at Kuhio Park,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “This scholarship program represents further investment in its resident families and their full potentials. Each of the four scholarship recipients is a role model in their community and for everyone throughout our state,” the Governor said.

All residents of The Towers at Kuhio Park who meet the eligibility criteria, which include graduating from high school or attaining their GED, may apply for a grant from The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation, and the funds can be used at any accredited college, university, or vocational training school.

“The Michaels Organization is deeply committed to ‘giving back’ to the communities where we work, and we are very proud of these scholars, who are the first residents of The Towers at Kuhio Park to participate in this very special program for our residents,” said Monika Mordasini, vice president of The Michaels Development Company.

The $332 million dollar redevelopment of the former Kuhio Park Terrace, which started last year and which will be completed over the next 10 years, includes the substantial renovation of two high-rise towers as well as the new construction of low-rise family units. The revitalized community will serve families with a wide variety of incomes by offering public housing, Section 8, Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and market-rate rental units. Interstate Realty Management assumed property and asset management as part of the revitalization effort, and has been collaborating with local nonprofit organizations to expand supportive services available to its residents.

Scholarship recipient Bonita Babas will be attending the University of Hawaii where she is pursuing a degree in special education. Kathleen Mae Labuguen, who is the first person in her family to attend college, is working toward a degree in nursing and will be a freshman at the University of Honolulu this fall. Faith Otineru, whose goal is to one day own her own business, will start her college career at the Honolulu Community College. Also attending Honolulu Community College will be March Rubon, who is seeking retraining after a 24-year career in another profession.

All scholarship recipients can reapply to The Michaels Organization Educational Foundation for grants each year of their education.

Founded in 1991 by Michaels' Chairman and CEO, Michael J. Levitt, The Michaels Educational Foundation has distributed more than $3.1 million in educational grants, benefiting more than 1,500 residents who live at Michaels’ properties. All funds are raised through private donations and matched two-for-one by Michael Levitt and his wife Pat. Among the contributors to this year’s scholarship fund were 30 local vendors to The Towers at Kuhio Park revitalization effort.

About the Michaels Organization: Headquartered in Marlton, N.J., The Michaels Organization is a family of eight integrated but independent operating companies dedicated to excellence in affordable, mixed-income, military and student housing. Since its founding by housing pioneer Michael J. Levitt in 1973, The Michaels Organization has developed, financed, or acquired more than 55,000 apartments, and currently manages 39,000 units in 33 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its companies include the Michaels Development Company, the number one private sector affordable housing owner in the country, and Interstate Realty Management, a nationally accredited management organization known for its award-winning supportive services programs.

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Laura Zaner
The Michaels Organization
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Ann Peterson
Towers at Kuhio Park
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