LEI is 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 represents an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration, and Inspiration, and from the hospitality industry’s perspective, LEI provides 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 meet, learn, and experience job opportunities that the hospitality industry can provide. Students also receive advice on filling out job/college applications, resumes, personal finance, and support resources.

Over the course of the last 8 years, the program has continued to grow and during April 2019, ClimbHI and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) will kick-off the 8th annual LEI program for over 1000 high school students and 100 college students from across the state. LEI 2019 will take place on four different islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawai’i Island), involve over 100 businesses, and utilize over 100 volunteers.

LEI 2019 will be held on:

  • April 3rd: Kauai at Sheraton Kauai
  • April 8th: Oahu at Hawaii Convention Center
  • April 16th-17th: Hawai’i Island at the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort & Mauna Kea Beach Resort
  • April 18th: Maui at Sheraton Maui

Example of LEI 2019 Schedule for Oahu

  • 9:15am-10:30am: Hawaii Convention Center- 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-3:15pm: Students return to the 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:

The Aloha Spirit was something that I knew well and it’s like second nature to me. Hospitality, on the other hand, was something that I had never thought of considering. Going into this program, I had never considered the opportunities hospitality had to offer. The LEI program had opened my eyes to how sharing the Aloha Spirit was not only important to us but the tourists that explore our home. The experience truly was awe-inspiring. It was such an eye-opening event that forever changed my outlook on leadership, hospitality, and the Aloha Spirit.

Throughout the program, I had felt completely comfortable being around everyone. Everyone was so quick to become friends with everyone that I felt the urge to create new friendships. The overall experience of connecting with other school leaders and enjoying ourselves was one of the high

lights of the program. I am more than willing to come back and recommend the LEI program to my friends because it is an unforgettable, life-changing experience that everyone deserves. Additionally, I believe that everyone can take something away from being involved with the program because I did and I plan on carrying it with me to benefit the school and to use later in the future.

As mentioned, I was going into the LEI Program with zero knowledge of hospitality other than it was very important to the economy of Hawaii. Being able to experience first-hand what it’s like being in the hospitality industry behind the scenes was the climax of the whole event. The in-depth tour of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was so inspiring to me. I had fully understood the meaning of teamwork when I realized that managing a hotel was not a one-man job. It was a job for hundreds of people. Although there were unfilled employee spots in certain departments, everyone involved in the system is able to pull through and create an amazing experience for tourists and I find that astonishing.

Being a part of the program, I have a better understanding of the importance of hospitality to the State of Hawaii. Now realizing what it really means to share the Aloha Spirit, I look forward to the upcoming school years that I plan to make better for everyone. I’m so happy to have learned and grown so much during the two days of the event. The Lei program taught me so much about the system of hotels and hospitality that maybe I might work in the hospitality industry. I look forward to what I could offer to Pahoa High using the information I learned during the event. I count on coming back next year to the program to learn even more”

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

If you’d like to volunteer or get involved, please contact Julie@climbhi.org