Categorized | Education

Arakaki family starts UH-Hilo scholarship

Presenting the gift from left, Jimmy Arakaki, Chancellor Rose Tseng, and Grace Arakaki. (Photo courtesy of UH Foundation)


Longtime Hawaii County Councilman Jimmy Arakaki and his wife Grace have made a donation of $15,000 to establish an endowed scholarship to benefit students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

As a result of a limited-time matching gift program made possible by a donation from an anonymous donor, UH-Hilo is matching the Arakaki’s donation dollar-for-dollar, effectively doubling its impact.

Beginning in the fall of 2010, the James and Grace Arakaki Endowed Excellence Scholarship will be awarded annually to a local student who has been honorably discharged from active U.S. military service, or who is the son or daughter of a veteran. The scholarship benefits students enrolled in UH-Hilo’s College of Business and Economics, with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.

“I want to give a veteran a chance like I had. And I want to support someone who can give back to the community through a business career,” Jimmy Arakaki said.

“It is a great honor for UH-Hilo to have the name of a dedicated public servant, Jimmy Arakaki, and his wife permanently associated with our campus through their creation of this perpetual endowment, which will benefit students now and for generations to come,” Chancellor Rose Tseng said.

The Arakaki’s manage Dodo Mortuary Life Plan, Inc., a business they opened in Hilo in 1978. Jimmy Arakaki served on the Hawaii County Council for a record 16 years (1990 to 2006), until a new term limits law forced his retirement. For eight of those 16 years he chaired the Council, presiding over a period of significant growth and development for Hawaii County.

Jimmy Arakaki grew up in the plantation town of Olaa, raised lovingly by his Okinawan grandparents. After graduation from Hilo High School in 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Army (4th All Hawaii Company) and served for three years before returning to Hawaii in 1961 to enroll in UH-Hilo’s predecessor, Hilo College, and ultimately earn a Bachelor of Business Administration from UH Manoa in 1965.

He credits his military service and his student days at Hilo College as formative experiences in preparing him for his dual career in business and government service.

Grace Arakaki grew up in Palolo Valley, the daughter of first generation Japanese immigrants; she was the first in her family of 13 children to graduate from college, earning a degree from UH Manoa in Asian Studies.

Private scholarships like the James and Grace Arakaki Endowed Excellence Scholarship make a critical difference to needy students at UH Hilo, where more than 65 percent of students depend upon some form of financial assistance, the highest percentage of any of the 10 UH campuses.

UH-Hilo is pleased to offer a first-ever series of matching gift opportunities that will greatly increase student scholarship support and help remove barriers to student access and success during these challenging times.

For a limited time only, several scholarship matching packages are available, thanks to a very generous $1 million anonymous gift which enables donors to double the value of new scholarship contributions.

For more information, contact the UH-Hilo Office of Development at (808) 933-1945 or email Margaret Shiba at Margaret.Shiba@uhfoundation.or…

The University of Hawaii Hilo is a comprehensive university with five degree-granting colleges, six master’s programs and two doctoral programs. UH-Hilo strives to integrate culture and science, offer hands-on learning opportunities to its students and use the Island of Hawaii as a natural learning laboratory.

Enrollment has doubled since 1980 to nearly 4,000 students coming from all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Visit

The University of Hawaii Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawaii System. Its mission is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawaii’s aspirations to benefit the people of Hawaii and beyond. The foundation raises private philanthropic support, managing private investments and nurturing donor and alumni relationships. Visit

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