Maui News

Gov. Ige Invests $8.1M in 31 Innovative Education Programs

August 4, 2021, 12:08 PM HST
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Governor David Ige has awarded 31 innovation grants totaling $8.1 million to schools, colleges and other educational entities across the state as part of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund.

Awards range from $100,000 to $450,000. Projects are scheduled to run through June 30, 2022 and encompass STEM education, project-based learning opportunities, and leadership development programs.

PC: UH Maui College dental program. File photo.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is changing Hawai‘i, and every sector must reinvent itself for the post-COVID environment, including education. The GEER awardees represent a diverse array of programs that address unprecedented pandemic needs and support the dreams and aspirations of each student,” said Gov. Ige.

“GEER funds will allow students at 25 public high schools to utilize design thinking to work with vulnerable small businesses and non-profits on developing COVID-19 response strategies,” said Edison Chong, the Hawaiʻi Academies Consortium of Schools Coordinator and innovation grant awardee. “This is an investment in educating students and our future workforce while serving local businesses and community organizations impacted by the pandemic.”

The GEER innovation grant program was developed and implemented in coordination with the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Advisory Group, which is composed of education leaders from Hawaiʻi’s public, private and charter schools.

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Applicants were required to submit a proposal addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on school services, including, among other things:

  • Measurable goals and indicators
  • Evidence-based practices and/or innovative strategies
  • Enabling actions and estimated timelines
  • Personnel and budget and other resource information
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Criteria for selection included collaboration and problem solving for an innovative mindset and overall impact.

“It is truly inspiring to see Hawaiʻi’s visionary educators and school teams strive to build bridges and help find creative solutions in the midst of unpredictability and uncertainty,” said Darrel Galera of Hawaii Center for Instructional Leadership and GEER Advisory Group member. “Their anticipation and visualization of a better future for our students will inspire them and others to make their dreams a reality.”  

The state received $4.4 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), in addition to the $9 million received in GEER funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), doubling the amount of funding available for the innovation grants program. 

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Earlier this year, $5 million in GEER funds was awarded to the State of Hawai‘i through the CARES Act, the first was granted to the University of Hawai‘i to create the Distance Learning Teacher Academy (Hawai‘i Online Portal for Education). The UH was awarded an additional $600,000 to develop the Transition to College Program (Next Steps to Your Future) for public high school juniors and seniors whose college career plans were impacted by the pandemic in 2020-21.

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