WAIMEA — The Akamai Workforce Initiative through Hawaii Community Foundation, North Kohala Community Resource Center-Kohala Elementary School Discovery Garden and The Kohala Center are the three recipients of this year’s Bank of Hawaii Foundation Monty Richards Hawaii Island Community Leadership Award.
The award recognizes outstanding leadership of nonprofits providing benefits for residents of Hawaii County, with the awards this year focused on helping Hawaii Island youth of low- to moderate-income households have access to internships, jobs or other leadership, entrepreneurship or skills training.
Akamai Workforce Initiative received $20,000; the other two recipients each received $5,000. The announcement was made during a special presentation at Kahua Ranch Oct. 9.
Akamai Workforce Initiative (AWI) supports placement of college students from Hawaii Island in summer internships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Bank of Hawaii Foundation is supporting AWI through Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF), which has funded the program for the third consecutive year.
AWI has placed local students pursuing STEM careers at high-tech industry organizations since 2003, and has an impressive record of advancing students into STEM jobs and/or advanced degrees. More than 350 Hawaii-based college students have participated, and the program has a long-term retention rate of 87 percent of students who continue on to a science or technology career. AWI will use the $20,000 Bank of Hawaii Foundation grant to support low- to moderate-income students from Hawaii Island in participating in the Akamai Internship Program.
The North Kohala Community Resource Center–Kohala Elementary School Discovery Garden was started in 2010 after a gulch behind the school was cleared and a mission was created, “to teach in an exploratory manner, sustainable agricultural practices, STEM subjects, wellness and nutrition, and Hawaiian pono behavior in the setting of a school garden.” The Kohala Complex was selected as the first Farm-to-School Pilot Program for the 2016-2019 school year in the state of Hawaii. The cafeteria removed all processed, bagged, canned and frozen food, replacing it with fresh, local and healthy meals. The North Kohala Community Resource Center will use the $5,000 grant to support the FoodCorps Service Member and part-time teacher programs to continue the growth of the Kohala Discovery Garden.
The Kohala Center (TKC) is an independent, community-based center for research, conservation and education. The Center conducts basic and applied research, policy research, conservation and restoration initiatives, public outreach and education in the core areas of food self-reliance, energy self-reliance and ecosystem health.
TKC programs emphasize culturally relevant, place-based, project-based, hands-on activities, especially for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Some of their programs include Hawaii Environmental Youth Leadership Program for more than 10 West Hawaii public high school, in-school, after-school, intersession and summer Aina Discovery Programs for K-12 students to participate in field-based scientific research, and professional development training for grades 6-12 STEM educators. TKC will use its $5,000 from Bank of Hawaii Foundation to continue to bolster STEM educational achievement and career pathways on Hawaii Island.