Milolii charter school wins $10k in state contest

  • Kua O Ka La Public Charter School recently won $10,000 in American Savings Bank’s Bank for Education KeikiCo Business Plan Competition. (Courtesy photo)

KAILUA-KONA — From a new take on the auto shop to proposing a business that recycles rubbish into sports equipment, three teams of students at Kua o Ka La Public Charter School are learning to put their talents and passions to work — and getting some solid cash in return.

The Milolii charter school was recently awarded the county-wide participation prize in the American Savings Bank’s 2017 Bank for Education KeikiCo Business Plan Competition, netting the school $10,000.

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Teacher Kaimi Kaupiko said they plan to use that prize to take students to Oahu to allow them to explore the world beyond their community.

“Whatever their goal is when they graduate,” Kaupiko said, “(we’re) hoping they can get inspired, if they have an idea of what they want to do, that we could try to cater our trip to Oahu for them and their goals.”

Kaupiko said they hope the trip can spark interest in the students and give them a better picture of what opportunities await them after graduation.

The school’s three teams — a middle school team and two high school teams — have been working for the last four months putting together their respective proposals for the competition.

Each team of four students from the school was tasked with developing a business plan that included details on the proposal’s marketing plan, budget, vision and mission and teams also had to submit a video pitch.

Kaupiko said it’s the second time the school’s students have taken part in the event.

“What I hope they get out of it is that if they put their minds together, they can be able to achieve great things,” he said.

Kaupiko said their middle school team proposed an auto repair shop that would also offer education opportunities on vehicle repair.

One of the two high school teams meanwhile pitched a business that would recycle material into sports equipment and the other high school team proposed a parkour park to offer more recreational opportunities for local kids and their families.

Kaupiko added that he wanted the project to be an opportunity for students at the school to get real-world experience beyond traditional academics.

“I wanted it to be like, this is what it really is like when you get out there,” he said, adding that he wanted his students to feel empowered to use their talents and passion, “and create something with it.”

Kaupiko said the school doesn’t have a whole lot of resources, but it’s all the more important to put what they do have to good use.

“We may not have a lot, but what we have is enough to get us to where we want to be,” he said.

The competition drew more than 200 entries from 30 schools across the state, said American Savings Bank in an announcement about the contest, leading to a total $190,000 being donated to 17 schools.

“At (American Savings Bank), we strive to support Hawaii’s innovation sector and the role it plays as a catalyst for economic development,” said Rich Wacker, president and CEO, in the release. “We believe it’s never too early to start fostering entrepreneurship. Our KeikiCo competition allows us to do just that by encouraging even the youngest entrepreneurs in our community.”

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The top winners for the competition’s elementary, middle and high school divisions, who received $25,000 for first prize, each came from schools on Oahu.

Kua o Ka La Charter School was the only Hawaii Island school awarded at the statewide contest.