Hawaii Secures Grant to Develop Bold Plan to Improve Career Preparation Systems for Young People

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) today announced it has secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan, which is an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across our state.

“This grant will go a long way in building upon the various partnership projects that are focused on preparing our students for the workforce,”stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re seeing positive results throughout our high schools as students create their path towards college and careers. Partnerships and grants like this are essential in our efforts and we’re excited to expand on our collective initiatives to help students achieve their goals.”

HS to College

Hawaii is among 24 states and the District of Columbia to receive a New Skills for Youth grant that includes expert technical assistance to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan. The grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Advance CTE, aimed at increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.

The grant enables HIDOE to begin a rigorous needs assessment to determine program strengths and necessary improvements.  With that baseline set, a new three-year career readiness action plan will be developed to set goals and targets toward providing students equitable access to career pathway opportunities, along with the identification and allocation of resources.

“States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation,”said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond.”

According to CCSSO, only about half of young Americans have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate.

“We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools,”said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment.”

In 2015, Hawaii’s youth unemployment rate for ages 16 to 19 was 13 percent.  For ages 20 to 24, the unemployment rate was 7 percent, compared to Hawaii’s overall rate of 3.7 percent for its entire labor force.

A growing number of Hawaii’s public high school students are taking college-level courses and earning dual credits –for both high school and college –before they graduate from the 12th grade, according to a College and Career Readiness Report (CCRI), released by Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education.

Hawaii, and the planning grant states, will be eligible to apply for a phase two grant opportunity, which will require states to demonstrate the commitment and capacity to execute the action plans developed in its first phase.

This grant opportunity builds on CCSSO’s Career Readiness Initiative, launched in 2015 to help close the country’s skills gap. It is guided by recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO’s Career Readiness Task Force.

 

Big Island Film Festival Announces 2016 Official Selections

Now in its eleventh year, Big Island Film Festival (BIFF) has announced its 58 Official Selections, to be screened May 26-30, 2016. BIFF, the “talk story” film festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking in the luxury resort setting of the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and The Shops at Mauna Lani.

Photo by Kirk Aeder

Photo by Kirk Aeder

The new, independent shorts and feature-length films are widely diverse, with something for every movie fan genre from sci fi to all kinds of romance, belly-laugh comedy, zombie suspense, martial arts action, captivating mysteries, family stories, and a short, “Cosmopenguin,” by a 7-year old Austrian filmmaker.

Michael Gross

Michael Gross

Michael Gross, best known as Steven Keaton, Michael J. Fox’s TV dad in “Family Ties,” stars in the new feature “Last Call at Murray’s,” showing Sunday night. Gross will attend in person, following a salute and reception in his honor. Bellamy Young, who plays ambitious First Lady on “Scandal,” will also be honored at BIFF, with a salute and reception on Saturday. Tickets for both events are available online.

Bellamy Young

Bellamy Young

Of note are feature films to be screened at the Fairmont Orchid’s Plantation Estate, where no-host bar and snacks make movie-watching even more fun, and beach chairs are welcome. On Saturday, “Winter’s Dream,” a futuristic sci fi drama pairs with “Plan Z,” a gripping trip through the zombie apocalypse, with soundtrack by artists like Rhianna, the Black Eyed Peas and more. Friday’s lineup includes a hilarious defense of family leave, “The Bad Mother,” and a multi-level love story filmed on our island, “Throuple.” On Sunday, “The Closer” is an intense drama about super high stakes real estate during the boom and bust of Brooklyn’s subprime meltdown.

A scene from "Throuple"

A scene from “Throuple”

“I am so impressed with the quality of films this year,” said Executive Director Leo Sears. “Picking the Official Selections was very difficult. The features are excellent, and the shorts are so good that we added an extra film block so we could show six more. Many of the daytime movies are good enough to be shown in the prime Festival Venue, but we only have so much space. This is a great selection that any movie-lover will enjoy and we hope everybody will come and support indie films with us.”

The Official Selections for BIFF 2016 are:

A Mighty Nice Man
As You Like It
Bernie and Rebecca
Between The Miles
Beyond Shattered Lenses
Blue borsalino
Boomerang
Breathe
Catfish Blues
Cosmopenguin
Cuddle Party
Danny Boy
Diablo (Devil)
Dream Land
Ellis
Fade
Frankie – Italian roulette
God Is A Dog
Green Lake
Hook Man
Indigo
Instance
Jack’s Apocalypse
Jagon
Last Call At Murray’s
Market St.
Monty and the Runaway Furnace
New Generation
OUT OF THE VILLAGE
Plan Z
Popolo
Prick
Psychoanalysis
Rated
Regression
Reservations For Three?
Ribbons
Romantic Rouse
Speaking of Fairies
Spunkle
Stoked Steves
Superior The Movie
The Bad Mother
The Bench
The Boy
The Closer Movie
The End aka John Doe
The End of Blessings
Kidnapping of a Fish
The Light Thief
The Schoolboy
The Surrender Call
THROUPLE The Movie
Water Girl
West of Her
White Lies, Blue Dream
Wifey Redux – A Short Film Based on the Story by Kevin Barry
Winter’s Dream

The five-day schedule includes free Opening Night and family films at The Shops at Mauna Lani, daytime movies and screenings under the stars at Plantation Estate, special events, screenwriting workshops, Awards Brunch and more.

A limited number of ballots will be given to audience members during each screening. Votes are tallied at the end of the festival, to determine the Audience-choice Feature and Short to be screened at Best of the Fest on Monday, May 30. An exciting closing night event, Best of the Fest will kick off with a Hawaiian music concert, and two ways to give back: a silent auction for Fisher House at Tripler Army Medical Center, and a portion of each ticket sold donated to Hawai‘i Island Food Basket.

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 26-30. Major sponsors include the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP. For complete schedule information and tickets, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com.

Free Document Shredding Event in Kailua-Kona

AARP Hawaii and Access Corporation is teaming up for a free document shredding event at the Access Information Management Destruction Plant in Kailua-Kona.

Document Shredding

Shredding documents with confidential information on them is an important part of protecting your identity and avoiding fraud.

Free Document Shredding & Food Drive – Big Island Record and Destruction Center, 73-4164 Huli Koa Dr #5, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 on Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 8 a.m. to Noon.

You are invited to bring old tax forms, bank statements, & sensitive papers for confidential on site destruction. This is a drive through and drop-off event with unloading assistance available.  Staples and paperclips do not need to be removed.  AARP membership is not required.  Limit of four file boxes or bags of paper per vehicle occupant.

We encourage you to bring donations of brown rice and canned goods to benefit that will be given to the Hawaii Food Basket.   Registration is not required.

Hamakua Springs Offering Free ‘Thank You’ Bananas this Friday

Hamakua Springs Country Farms will be giving away 300 boxes of bananas from its final banana harvest this Friday, April 1, 2016 (no fooling). That’s 12 thousand pounds of bananas – about 30 thousand bananas – so there’s definitely enough for everyone who’s interested.

Hamakua Springs bananas

Hamakua Springs bananas

Bananas will be available for people to drive in and pick up at Kumu Street in Hilo. (Turn off Kamehameha Avenue onto the short Kumu Street, which is just past Ponahawai St. at the soccer fields.)

Hamakua Springs owners Richard and June Ha, along with other family members and workers, will be at the Hilo soccer fields from 10 a.m. Friday morning.

“It’s our way of saying thank you for the community’s support over all these years,” said Richard Ha. The company, first as Kea‘au Bananas, then Mauna Kea Bananas and most recently Hamakua Springs Country Farms, was in business for 35 years.

Richard Ha and family at Hamakua Springs Country Farms. From left: Richard Ha, his mother Florence Ha, Richard’s wife June Ha, son-in-law Kimo Pa and daughter Tracy Pa.

Richard Ha and family at Hamakua Springs Country Farms. From left: Richard Ha, his mother Florence Ha, Richard’s wife June Ha, son-in-law Kimo Pa and daughter Tracy Pa.

The primary reason they stopped farming bananas, Ha explained, was that Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) was found on the farm. “We had experience with BBTV at our banana farm in Kea‘au, and we knew that if the disease became imbedded in the gulches it would become a constant source of infection,” he said. “That’s the main reason we decided to stop bananas.”

Another factor is the rising cost of oil, which has significantly driven up farm costs such as fertilizer, plastic, and other items with oil petroleum costs embedded in their price. When the oil price dropped recently, those costs stayed up. “We know the oil price will go back up again, and anticipating that we had to make a decision,” he said. “It’s not that we’re going bankrupt – we’re not. We just needed to do what we had to do before it got to that point.”

The former banana acreage has been leased to another farmer, and other possibilities are being investigated for the farm land and hydroelectric system.