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Event to support MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund

By Staff | Aug 19, 2010

A Ke Alahele grant covered the costs of 450 students at Pomaikai Elementary School conducting research into human impacts on the environment at Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge. Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

WAILEA — As we recover from economic turmoil and our island youth seek career paths that will lay the foundation for the next generations, we are — now more than ever — reminded that the children are the future.

Maui Economic Development Board Inc. (MEDB), a not-for-profit corporation, seeks to provide leadership and a vision with a sensible design that strives to develop a strong, sustainable and diversified economy for the future of Maui.

MEDB recognizes the groundwork for a solid educational experience is a concentration in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), so that today’s students will be prepared to work and live in the 21st century.

Recognizing the key components of STEM in workforce development, the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund was formed in 2006 as a “grant-making vehicle” to help enhance education and training in Maui County.

The creative fund supports projects that engage students in STEM-related activities and has helped stimulate community investment in broadening career pathways for residents.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, MEDB will hold a special fundraiser dinner, “A Pathway To Our Future,” to benefit the MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund.

Slated at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa, the event will feature headline Distinguished Educators U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Irene Hirano, and Mayor Charmaine Tavares, who will join members and supporters in highlighting the achievements of MEDB Ke Alahele grantees.

A reception and the “Apples for Education” silent auction will begin at 5 p.m., with dinner and live auction to follow at 6:30 p.m.

This year’s event seeks to build on the success of the 2009 benefit, which raised more than $200,000 for STEM education.

The MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund helps fill critical needs in our county schools as an increasing number of subjects are cut from lesson plans, leaving students wondering, “what might have been.”

“We all appreciate the impact of the state’s and the nation’s financial situation on our schools,” said MEDB President Jeanne Unemori Skog.

“We all need to step up our efforts to be able to shore up STEM education programs that are so necessary to our children and to our future.”

The MEDB Ke Alahele Education Fund supports an assortment of programs and curriculum that encourage hands-on experiences and learning STEM fields.

During the 2009-10 school year, grants to 18 schools and organizations allowed 13 “robotics” teams to compete in county- and statewide events.    

Other innovative projects had students examining coastal resources, learning about plant and animal cells, as well as designing a garden to comprehend nutrition. And four other grants have already been awarded for the 2010-11 year.

“Recipients over the past years tell us Ke Alahele funding is essential to the continuity of programs being provided to engage students in STEM activities,” said Skog.

According to Lanai teacher Cruz Hernandez, the support enhanced community families as well. Their children were able to participate in “FIRST LEGO League Robotics” events at the county and state levels.

“We could not have gone without the support,” Hernandez said. “We want to tell the people who made it possible how much it touched, really touched the kids — and how much it touched the parents because we could take their kids to the competition when they could never have been able to do it.”

Help unleash the creative and technological skills of our island keiki as they lead us into the future and attend the Aug. 28 event at the Grand Wailea. Tickets to “A Pathway to Our Future” are $150 per person, with sponsorships also available.

For reservations, contact Maui Economic Development Board at 875-2300 or visit www.medb.org for more information.