Micronesia is the broad term for the many tiny islands stretching across the western Pacific Ocean. Within the vast Pacific, Micronesia lays west of Polynesia and north of Melanesia.

“Micronesia” is also used to refer to independent nations of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. The Caroline Islands, the geographic center of the Federated States, lie just south of Guam. Today’s Federated States are comprised of Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae States, and include many Outer or “Neighboring” Islands between the four more populous district centers.

Once part of a United Nation’s sanctioned US Trust Territory, these three countries enjoy a unique “Freely Associated States” relationship with the United States. Before US liberation of the islands, they endured centuries of colonialism under successive Spanish, German, and Japan occupation.

These FAS each have a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The COFAs enshrine a special decades-long development partnership. The Compacts provide for defense and economic assistance, as well as unique eligibility for Micronesians within the US such as federal tuition assistance to attend American universities.

Challenges remain. These small, disparate and multicultural island societies struggle to develop economically in the complex, information-driven global economy.

Too often, ambitious Micronesian students can not take advantage of higher education opportunities COFAs afford within the US because they aren’t properly prepared. Habele was created to help such students reach their full academic, and personal, potential.

Established by former Peace Corps Volunteers, Habele is a 501(3) nonprofit supporting Micronesian students.