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The Hawaiʻi Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund has awarded college scholarships totaling $1,050,000 to 116 Hawaiʻi Island students over the past 4 years and an additional $2 plus million to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pursuits.

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) initiated the THINK Fund prior to the start of construction with a commitment of $1 million per year for Hawaiʻi Island STEM endeavors. The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) and the Pauahi Foundation administer the THINK Fund with scholarship, classroom, student and STEM programming initiatives. The THINK Fund at Pauahi Foundation focuses its scholarship programs on Native Hawaiian recipients.

The THINK Fund also supports STEM Learning Grants to programs that demonstrate success in recruiting and addressing the needs of groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including students in rural communities, Native Hawaiians and those disengaged in school. The THINK Fund also supports classroom grants through Thirty nine of the 55 public and public charter schools on Hawaiʻi Island have received grants, with high need students receiving 78 percent of the funding.

Said Lydia K. Clements, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation vice president of foundation and corporate partnerships, “With growing opportunities for our local students with STEM skills to move into meaningful careers, the significant commitment by TMT over the past 4 years is timely. TMT’s leadership and Hawaiʻi Island volunteers have been extraordinary community partners in providing scholarships, classroom supplies and hands-on learning for over 17,000 Hawaiʻi Island students and 900 of their teachers.”

To date, TMT has funded $4 million to the THINK Fund benefiting Hawaiʻi Island students and teachers with $900,000 in an endowment to fund STEM education on Hawaiʻi Island far into the future.

“Scholarship support allowed me to focus on studying and commit more time to academics—especially in grad school,” said Steven Nozaki, a Waiākea High School graduate and THINK Fund scholarship recipient in 2015 and 2016. “I had opportunities to pursue supplementary activities related to my studies, such as workshops, national conferences and travel. I can honestly say that the generosity and philanthropic support that I received really helped me to accomplish my educational goals.”

Nozaki’s long-term goal is to return to Hawaiʻi. “Because of the support from organizations like HCF and TMT‘s THINK Fund, I have been able to achieve many of my goals, and am in a better place to one day be able to help others in Hawaiʻi.”

Read the full story at the TMT website.

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