Why We Give: Joan C. Pratt ’47

Giving in the Spirit of Promoting Equity

Joan Catharine Pratt ’47 was synonymous with girls Punahou PE and athletics for three decades. She passed away on Feb. 22, 2022, at the age of 92, but her legacy endures at the School, where she was a champion for women in sports and served loyally as a teacher, coach and thoughtful donor. 

Athletics played a defining role in Pratt’s life. At a time when girls were largely excluded from competitive sports, the dedicated young athlete participated in all the intramural sports sponsored by the Punahou Girls Athletic Association (PGAA). In 1946, the PGAA was restored to pre-war activities, with Pratt serving as its student treasurer. 

Pratt coached Punahou’s first Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls’ volleyball team in 1961. During her 30 years of teaching and coaching at Punahou, she became a champion of Title IX legislation, which was enacted in 1972 to prevent sex-based discrimination in educational settings and sparked the rise of girls’ competitive sports nationally and in Hawai‘i. 

In 2016, Pratt was honored with the Punahou Athletics Service Award, to recognize the ways that she changed the future of girls athletics at Punahou by increasing opportunities to play and focusing on fundamental skills as both a coach and PE teacher. 

As a donor, Pratt loyally supported the Living Endowment (now the Punahou Fund), which was founded by her father and aunt (C. Dudley Pratt ’18 and Laura Pratt ’21 Bowers), as well as her class funds, Nā Wāhine Pā‘ani o Punahou and her parents’ endowed funds. In 2007, she established her own endowed financial aid fund to assist scholar athletes of Hawaiian ancestry. 

“I want to make sure that kids who can’t afford Punahou’s tuition still have a chance to come here,” she said at the time. “The School needs what these kids bring – their athletic drive, their deep love of Hawai‘i and its culture. We need to always reach out to them.” Pratt’s pioneering spirit laid the groundwork for Punahou’s diverse athletic offerings for girls today and her generosity will help ensure access to these opportunities for young women of Hawai‘i in perpetuity.

A Gift from the Heart: Class of ’73 Establishes Financial Aid Fund for Students in Need

Members of the Class of 1973 are hard at work organizing their 50th Reunion celebration this June. While some are busy organizing gatherings and events, others have decided to focus on how the Class can give back to Punahou. 

A small group, organized by Mauri Okamoto-Kearney ’73, has come together to create a new endowed financial aid fund to mark their milestone Reunion. With the support of classmates Lahela Ka‘aihue, David Arakawa, Val Uyehara Ito and Faye Matsukage, they have established the Kahiau Endowed Financial Aid Fund. This fund will support financial aid for students in need in perpetuity, particularly focusing on students who express values of diversity, inclusivity and giving back to their community.

Founding donor Okamoto-Kearney shared, “I am so thankful for the opportunities that Punahou has given me. Many of us from humble backgrounds had to work through school and over the summer, or needed financial aid, which was difficult to get for high school. Punahou opened doors to great universities, successful careers and a strong international network. With this scholarship fund, we want to ‘pass it forward’ to younger students and hope that they will turn around and do the same for those behind them.”

Kahiau means “to give generously from the heart with no expectations in return,” which is a perfect description of this selfless gift. Classmates from 1973 as well as any member of the Punahou community (alumni or not) are invited to join in giving to the fund.

The spirit of the Class of ’73 is in full splendor. A record number of classmates have volunteered to join their Reunion Committee, now numbering over 70 people. The high participation is welcomed – with more than a week of gatherings and celebrations to plan, there’s plenty of work to go around.

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