Gov. Ige announces $6.8 million in private grants to expand high-quality STEM experiences for Hawaii students and strengthen state’s economy

January 8, 2016 - Hawaii Gov. David Ige today announced a state-wide initiative involving education, industry and nonprofit sectors to strengthen and expand education and employment opportunities for state residents. Nonprofit organization USA Funds® has awarded $6.8 million in grants to Project Lead The Way (PLTW) and the University of Hawaii to enhance and diversify Hawaii’s economy, prepare residents for high-paying and in-demand jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, strengthen teaching and learning of STEM subjects, and address Hawaii’s “brain drain” of talent to the mainland.

“This initiative will help prepare our students for careers in fast-growing segments of our state’s economy and expand high-quality employment opportunities for our residents,” Gov. Ige said. “I deeply appreciate the private sector’s investment in Hawaii's students, teachers and the University of Hawaii. The investment will further build the state’s innovation economy and workforce.”

USA Funds, which has worked with state government and higher education institutions in Hawaii since 1979, awarded the funds in keeping with its focus on promoting student success in college and career.

“This transformative initiative will help ensure Hawaii is able to create and attract the jobs of the future and fill these jobs with in-state talent,” said William D. Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO. “Consistent with USA Funds’ focus on college Completion With a Purpose, this partnership will link student success in education to rewarding and fulfilling careers following graduation, while enhancing the state’s overall economic vitality.”

With nearly $2.2 million in funding from USA Funds, PLTW, a nonprofit that provides transformative learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers across all 50 states, will give at least 48 Hawaii high schools the opportunity to implement programs in computer science, engineering or biomedical science. The initial group of high schools, which are being selected through a competitive process, will be announced later this month.

“Project Lead The Way currently partners with 30 schools in six complex areas in Hawaii to deliver transformative learning experiences for students and teachers,” said Dr. Vince Bertram, PLTW president and chief executive officer. “Today, we are honored to expand our partnership with schools in Hawaii to empower more students with the knowledge and skills that will help them thrive in our evolving world.”

PLTW, in partnership with University of Hawaii West Oahu, will also provide professional development support to teachers, and will work with local partners to develop culturally relevant resources and community partnerships that enhance student engagement and learning.

By 2017, Hawaii is projected to need 16,000 more workers with STEM skills each year, but the state currently ranks 47th in the number of STEM-related degrees awarded per 100,000 residents.

For additional information about the initiative, visit www.usafunds.org/Hawaii.

USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that supports Completion With a PurposeSM, building a more purposeful path for America’s students to and through college and on to rewarding careers and successful lives. USA Funds pursues its nonprofit mission through philanthropic activities and partnerships, policy research, and programs and services that enhance preparation for, access to and success in higher education. Learn more at www.usafunds.org.

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in- demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 8,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information, visit www.pltw.org.

Media Contact:

Jennifer Cahill

PLTW Senior Director of Media and Public Relations

(317) 669-0871

[email protected]