A recent economic study found 57% of Native Hawaiians do not earn enough to survive in Hawaii.
But local non profit, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement is working to change that.
Its opened the Hawaiian Trades academy that offers free courses that arms kanaka with skills to enter Hawaii's trade industry.

"Most of our programs, you just have to have a high school diploma or GED. You do not have to have a college degree. We want to give people skills and trade skills to start a new career. Perhaps, try something new," said CNHA program manager Rona Kekauoha.

Retirees from the trade field teach classes that get students ready ahead of submitting job applications.  
So far the academy's offered programs specializing in firefighting and carpentry.

"They're now walking away from the program fully certified, with OSHA certification,  they have respiratory training, carpentry math. They have forklift training. Having programs that help them reach their true potential so that they can be competitive in the workforce is really important," said CNHA CEO Kuhio Lewis.

Enrollment just opened for the academy's police program. A retired Honolulu police captain will run the 10 week course.

CNHA says the goal is to ultimately raise salaries Hawaiians are bringing home. According to the organization, starting pay for various entry level positions in the field range from $60K-$70K.

 Aloha United Way contributed $220,000 in funding so far. The organization says more needs to be done to help thousands of people barely above the poverty line.

"We looked at that and said, 'My gosh. There's so many folks in our community that are struggling and going paycheck to paycheck. We said, nobody's addressing that population,'" AUW Chief Operating Officer Norm Baker explained.

"What they're doing is offering folks in that community the opportunity to go back to school to learn a trade that is going to pay them a living wage," Baker said.

Those AUW funds strictly come from donations made from the public.

For more information on how to apply to the CNHA's academy, click here.