LEI Program Overview

LEI was a HTA-sponsored workforce development project created by ClimbHI to inspire Hawai’i’s youth to select careers in the Hawai’i visitor industry by providing them with the necessary means to achieve success. From the student’s perspective, LEI represented an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration, and Inspiration, and from the hospitality industry’s perspective, LEI provided an opportunity to Lead, Expose, and Inspire Hawai’i’s youth. The program began in 2011 with 300 Hawai’i high school students spending a day learning about the hospitality industry and the value of graduating from high school and going on to pursue a post-secondary education. During the course of the day’s program, the students met, learned, and experienced job opportunities that the hospitality industry could provide. Students also received advice on filling out job/college applications, resumes, personal finance, and support resources.

Over the course of the last 6 years, the program continued to grow and during April 2016, ClimbHI and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) kicked-off the 5th annual LEI program for over 800 high school students and 100 college students from across the state. LEI 2017 took place on four different islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawai’i Island), involved over 85 businesses, and utilized over 70 volunteers.

New this year was that we brought in students from Lanai and Moloka’i to be inspired in the LEI 2017 at Sheraton Maui.

LEI 2017 was held on:

  • April 4th: Kauai at Sheraton Kauai
  • April 7th: Maui at Sheraton Maui
  • April 18th: Oahu at Hawaii Convention Centre
  • April 19th-20th: Hawai’i Island at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Example of LEI 2017 Schedule for Oahu

  • 9:15am-10:30am: Hawaii Convention Centre – Leadership and inspiration through guest speakers and Hawaiian culture/sense of place trainings
  • 10:45am-2pm: Waikiki hotel visit – Students will be divided into groups and sent to different hotels for an overview of the hotel industry including a dining etiquette piece for lunch.
  • 2pm-3:30pm: Students return to the Hawaii Convention Center for a career fair to expose them to the variety of roles in the hospitality industry and post-secondary education opportunities.


Strong connections made with students:

“This is my second year participating and I certainly have gained so much knowledge and views from the experiences you have given me. It was great to be able to attend and befriend students of other schools as well as meet the staff at the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and the Hawaii Convention Center.
The words you spoke of at the last year’s convention, “L.E.I. is not a program! Leadership Exploration and Inspiration are things that you should carry with you in life,” have stayed with me till this day and will continue to try and exemplify these characteristics.” –Student from James Campbell High School

“When I saw Tihati’s Productions and Germaine’s Lu’aū, I knew that people become successful in what they love to do- making it not seem like a typical, normal job. After seeing how people can make a living off of Tahitian and Polynesian dancing, I took it into consideration on adding this job into my future plans for myself. Like any other goal that people set up, I know that if I put in hard work and determination into dancing, I know that someday, I can be a professional dancer.” –Student from Kauai High School.

“The one thing that I most enjoyed about the program was the actual tour of the hotel. I felt that by having that inside access and seeing the entire behind the scenes operations of the hotel, we were able to gain a better sense of the hotel’s system and how each department contributes to the success of the hotel. It was also very intriguing to see how each department contained a certain type of personality profile; it was nice to see everyone happy with their job because it suited their personality and it was reassuring to know that there are jobs that can match your personality type.” –Student from Mililani High School

To get a glimpse of LEI click here to view a short video.

If you are interested to volunteer or get involved for 2018, please contact Julie@climbhi.org


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