Summer Helms was born in Kahuku and raised on the North Shore of O’ahu, and attended St. Francis High School in Honolulu. Her path has been focused and exciting as she continues to purse her passion of growing the capacity of indigenous-serving organizations.
Summer provides grant writing and evaluation services primarily to Native Hawaiian-serving organizations as well as the University of Hawaii, Community College System. For more than fifteen years, Summer has a been a grant reviewer for numerous State and Federal agencies and programs, described here.
After graduating high school, Summer then moved to the mainland to attend the University of California at San Diego in 1988.While working towards her Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) at San Diego State University, Summer worked as the evaluation coordinator for a private firm in San Diego whose main clients were the Los Angeles and San Diego Unified School Districts. From 1996-1999, she developed and implemented evaluation protocols for programs such as Tobacco Use Prevention, Safe and Drug Free Schools, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention, as well as co-authoring several of the initial and renewal grant proposals for these programs.
In 1999, Summer began working for the County of San Diego, Office of Public Health as their lead evaluator, primarily for Tobacco Prevention Programs, but also as the coordinator of their mini-grant program which provided funding for community-based organizations in the areas of tobacco use prevention and cessation.
In 2000, Summer moved back to Hawai‘i to be closer to her family. She took a position with the University of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i Community College, initially as a federal grant writer and later as Project Coordinator for their Title III Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions (NHSI) program and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants—both serving Native Hawaiians. She later became their Institutional Researcher (IR) in 2003. In this capacity, she worked closely with the Chancellor and key cabinet members to address accreditation issues and develop a program review process. She was also the campus representative for the system-wide “IR Cadre”—a team tasked with developing standardized data points needed to address WASC accreditation recommendations for all campuses.
In 2005, Summer started her own business providing grant writing and evaluation services for clients ranging from the University of Hawai‘i Community College (UHCC) system to numerous Hawaiian-serving non-profits. Her focus areas continue to be P-20 education, facilities funding for charter schools and capacity building for Hawaiian-serving organizations. She has also provided consulting for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) as a trainer and technical assistance provider for their Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant programs.
Summer began her doctoral studies in Educational Psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa but recently transferred to Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.