When we approached the end of 2021, we realized that 2023 would mark our 10th year anniversary and it was just around the corner. We contemplated what would be the best, most impactful way, to celebrate a decade in education. After much thought, we decided that establishing a Mana Academy Scholarship Fund was not only prudent but allows us to give back to our Mana community who has supported and sustained us for the past ten years. And so, we started planning for our first annual Mana Academy Scholarship Gala.
We've endured tumultuous challenges in those ten years and we often look back bewildered that we are still here, still standing, and we still have the strength to continue for another ten years, or maybe even more. But in hindsight, our resilience as a school is a testament to our school leaders and past board members, and the calculated decisions they made to navigate our school to where we are today. And through it all, our school community has always rallied behind us and their unwavering support gave us the necessary strength to push through every challenge and fulfill our promise and commitment to them.
Our first gala was a beautiful night of celebration, honoring our community partners, and the highlight was the cultural performances of our Mana scholars. In the end, we managed to raise $43,000 in sponsorships, monetary and in-kind donations for our scholarship fund. Several awards were presented that night:
Higher Education Partner Award
Salt Lake Community College
University of Utah
Community Partner Award
National Tongan American Society
Discover Card - APAD
Mana Parent Service Award
There's a beautiful Tongan proverb that goes like this: "Koe koloa 'a e Tonga koe fakamālō" which translates to "gratitude is the treasure of every Tongan." We could not have done this without our sponsors. We wish to extend our gratitude and acknowledge all our sponsors and donors who gave generously to our scholarship fund:
Our Presenting Co-Sponsors:
Lia and Oscar Rosales
Tokotaha Family (on behalf of Mana Academy alumni Alaimaluloa Tokotaha)
Talakoula Radio Show
Ticket Donations (these were patrons who either donated money or purchased tickets to donate to staff and Mana parents)
Daela Taeoalii Higgs
And last but not least, we wish to thank the Mana parents who helped out with the gala:
Tupou Naeata Haungatau
Our collective efforts will make a significant impact on our Mana graduates and their ability to access higher education, now that they have one less barrier to worry about. All our seniors have been accepted to the various universities of their choice. We will update you on their progress as we await for scholarship offers and their final decisions. Stay tuned!
Enjoy these photos from the gala.