The newly formed THINK (The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge) Fund at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) was started by the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory to better prepare Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-(science, technology, engineering, and math) related professions through community grants and scholarships.
TMT has committed a minimum contribution of $750,000 per year to THINK Fund at HCF. This commitment is for the life of the Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.
“HCF is thankful to TMT for providing this opportunity for the community and to the dedicated volunteer advisory committee members who have worked hard to determine the best way for the fund to benefit Hawai‘i Island,” stated Kelvin Taketa, president & CEO of Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “By improving STEM education and increasing the number of students going into STEM careers, it will make a difference for our local economy and build the confidence of our youth that there is a bright future for creative and hardworking students.”
THINK Fund at HCF’s focus is to support and encourage Hawai‘i Island students to pursue STEM-related professions. These are lucrative and growing career fields where by 2017, the STEM-related jobs across all industries in Hawai‘i are estimated to increase to 63,000, which means the state needs approximately 16,500 more workers with STEM skills annually. However, Hawai‘i is not currently producing enough graduates in STEM fields locally to fill jobs.
The initial strategic goals for THINK Fund at HCF are to:
- Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who are inspired to pursue postsecondary STEM fields of study
- Increase the number of Hawai‘i Island students who complete STEM degree and training programs
- Increase the number of effective STEM teachers on Hawai‘i Island
- Increase the number of effective STEM programs on Hawai‘i Island that also promote cultural competency or place-based learning
HCF staff based on Hawai‘i Island will implement the strategy and grantmaking of THINK Fund at HCF, which is guided by an advisory committee of Hawai‘i Island residents. The advisory committee currently includes Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons, and Barry Taniguchi.
“As a lifelong educator, I am known to say ‘If can, can. If no can, how can?’ THINK Fund at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation provides our Hawai‘i Island students and educators with a wonderful ‘how can’ opportunity to reach to the stars, literally,” said Mary Correa, advisory committee member for THINK Fund at HCF and Complex Area Superintendent for Kau-Keaau-Pāhoa. “Through this support, our young people will have the opportunity to be inspired, be prepared to participate in the world-class discovery that occurs on our own island, and allows us to keep more of our homegrown talent on island to raise their families and contribute to the community.”
THINK Fund at HCF will support important steps for students along the “cradle-to-career” STEM education pathway. For more information on any of the grant or scholarship opportunities and to apply, visit www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/THINKFund. Grantmaking from the fund will focus in three areas:
- Learning Grants to nonprofit organizations or schools – Grants are available for nonprofits or schools to provide in-school, intersession or afterschool STEM learning experiences for K-12 students that integrate Hawai‘i’s cultural context or promote place-based learning opportunities. Grants can also provide training or professional development for teachers to increase content knowledge and pedagogy in STEM subjects. The online THINK Fund application opened on December 1, 2014 and the deadline to apply is January 30, 2015.
- Educator Grants for teachers – Grants are available to support Hawai‘i Island public and charter school teachers of grades 6 through 12 who have projects that encourage STEM learning. Teachers who submit proposals to DonorsChoose.org and are eligible to receive support for classroom materials, supplies, guest speaker expenses, or on-island field trips for their students. THINK Fund at HCF will provide grants for all but $100 for qualified projects that are less than $2,500. The application opened on November 24, and in just one week, the program funded nine projects at five Hawai‘i Island schools with over $11,187, that will impact over 1,100 students. A completed list of projects can be found at http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/matching.html?id=20516351&historical=true
- College Scholarships for students – Hawai‘i Island students interested in pursuing a STEM career with the intention of working or teaching on the island are encouraged to apply. The online application for scholarships opened on December 1, 2014, and closes on February 19, 2015. By completing the application, students will be matched to multiple scholarship opportunities. THINK Fund at HCF will award scholarships in two areas:
- Undergraduates or graduate level degrees, certificates or other professional development coursework to become a STEM educator on Hawai‘i Island. Current educators or students working to towards a teaching degree that want to teach STEM subjects or professionals in a STEM-related field that would like to teach are encouraged to apply.
- Degrees or certificates in STEM-related fields being completed by students from Hawai‘i Island. There is a wide range of STEM-related studies students can pursue that will qualify for these scholarships.
“We very excited and gratified that THINK Fund at HCF has been launched,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT Manager Hawai’i Community Affairs. “It is the beginning of our many-year commitment to STEM education on Hawaii Island, and is also the culmination of years of work by a hard-working and dedicated group of local citizens who provided the philosophy and goals of THINK Fund. We are also very happy to be in partnership with HCF and the very impressive, multi-talented advisory committee who is guiding this effort.”
Initially established by TMT, THINK Fund at HCF is designed to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawai‘i Island’s workforce. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawai‘i Island students in the long term. THINK Fund is one of several funds, initiatives, partnerships, and programs at HCF dedicated to supporting students and the STEM fields in Hawai‘i.
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