We spoke with the Kamehameha Schools Endowment, who are Limited Partners in Pear VC. They shared more about their incredible founding story, how they think about investing in funds, and the impact their investments can make on their community and beyond.
Kamehameha Schools was founded in 1887 by Ke Ali‘i (Princess) Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great granddaughter of King Kamehameha the Great, the monarch who unified all of the Hawaiian Islands into a single kingdom in the early 1800s. Throughout her life, Ke Ali‘i Pauahi witnessed the negative impact of Western influences on indigenous culture in Hawaii. Inspired to reverse these impacts and create a better future for the Hawaiian people, Princess Pauahi bequeathed her entire estate of approximately 370,000 acres of Ali‘i (royal) lands to establish a school with the goal of furthering the education of native Hawaiian students. Through this estate, the Kamehameha Schools first campus was opened 3 years after Bernice Pauahi’s passing under the leadership of her husband, Charles Reed Bishop.
Today, the schools operate 29 preschool campuses, and three Kindergarten through Grade 12 campuses throughout Hawaii. In total, the schools educate around seven thousand students, providing over 5,700 prekindergarten to post-secondary scholarships, and invest nearly a half of a billion dollars in education and educational support each year.
98 percent of the school’s activities are supported by the endowment. A third of the endowment is invested in real estate (largely the initial land bequeathed by Bernice Pauahi). The rest of the endowment is invested in financial assets, including venture funds like Pear VC. A part of the endowment is spent each year on fulfilling the mission of furthering education for Hawaiian students. The endowment supports campus operations, expansions to new grade levels, the establishing of charter schools, and many other programs.
The Kamehameha Schools Endowment plays a critical role in addressing socioeconomic challenges in Hawaii, uplifting the Native Hawaiian community through education, providing financial aid to students, and perpetuating the rich Hawaiian culture.
Kamehameha Schools Endowment invested in Pear for several key reasons:
- Team: “Pejman and Mar are incredibly nice people. Time is a premium in the VC business, but Mar and Pejman were so approachable and showed genuine interest in their LPs, that really stood out.”
- University Connection: “Pear’s connection with Stanford really resonated. Visiting Pear Garage feels like an extension with so many students going there. As an educational institution, this resonated with us. Having a connection to a school and educational ecosystem was quite nice.”
- Unique Programs: “Seeing the way Pear is set up, it’s almost like a school for aspiring founders. It’s a very interesting Pear specific concept with programs like Pear Dorm.”
- Early Stage: “There’s a trend toward moving early, investing earlier in a company’s formation. Pear was firmly planted in that space.”
- High Touch: “Pear stood out to us as a unique opportunity to pursue…with Pear, we saw a high touch approach. Pear’s companies receive a high amount of attention. Pear provides a more hand crafted approach to the seed stage.”
Kamehameha Schools Endowment highlighted the impact Pear VC has made in furthering the school’s mission.
The returns from Pear VC Fund 1 distributed back to Kamehameha translates to the following impact*:
- 120 children with an education in one of Kamehameha’s 30 pre-schools
- 422 students with subsidized tuition at one of Kamehameha’s three K-12 campuses
- 423 scholarships towards tuition at other K-12 schools and colleges and universities
- 4,220 learners served through Kamehameha’s various community outreach and community investment programs
- 26,552 acres of sustainably managed agricultural and conservation lands
Altogether, Pear VC Fund 1 has touched the lives of 5,185 members of the Native Hawaiian community and supports the sustainable management of a meaningful portion of Kamehameha’s 360K acres of legacy lands.
Future distributions from Pear will continue to impact Kamehameha, and the long term impact to the community will almost certainly be well in excess of the above numbers.
The data is reflected of Kamehameha Schools FY19-20 reports*