2008 marked the end of the fourth cycle for Pihana Nā Mamo: The Native Hawaiian Special Education Project. CRDG joined the project in its third cycle, beginning a collaborative effort with the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HDOE) in 2000.
Morris Lai served as the principal investigator with Gloria Kishi (HDOE) and Hugh Dunn as project directors. Pihana Nā Mamo worked with Hawaiʻi schools to identify, develop, and implement effective programs to meet the unique needs of Native Hawaiian students. Its mission was to improve educational outcomes of K–12 special needs students of Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian ancestry. To do this, the project focused on reading and culturally appropriate support systems, including parent and community participation and new curriculum materials.
The project has published the first 10 titles in the Ka Wana series, a set of books written by Malcolm Nāea Chun on Native Hawaiian cultural practices and traditions. Also in the works were an anthology of writings related to Native Hawaiian issues and a 500-page hardcover book, which incorporates the material from the Ka Wana series.
Heluhelu, the Pihana reading component, had excellent outcomes in 2007, when 11 out of 13 Pihana elementary schools (all but one had a higher-than-average poverty level) met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards for reading. A newspaper article featured four formerly struggling schools that did well in 2005, all of which were Pihana schools.
Students in the Kākoʻo (student support) component of Pihana had a high school graduation rate exceeding normative expectations. In 2004-2005 the Makua Hānai (parent involvement) component of Pihana worked with 1,075 students and 577 families from 13 schools.