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Several University of Hawaiʻi projects were each awarded $100,000–$450,000 as part of Gov. David Ige’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects encompass STEM education, project-based learning opportunities and leadership development programs, and are scheduled to run through June 30, 2022.

“These projects demonstrate our faculty’s innovative spirit and commitment to improve learning across our islands,” UH President David Lassner said. “Our post-pandemic priorities recommitted us to help teachers and ensure that students at all levels can advance along their educational pathways to achieve success in their careers and communities. These projects help show the way forward in education, health and more.”

UH GEER fund recipients

  • Hawaiʻi Space Flight Laboratory in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology received $449,725 for its Project: “CubeSat” design challenge, an open-ended design challenge for students based on space exploration and science.
  • Hawaiʻi Community College former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Joni Onishi and Hawaiʻi CC Agriculture Department Professor Lew Nakamura partnered on a Hawaiʻi Island project called Kaʻū Global Learning Lab, which leverages a community of global and local influencers in the private, civic and educational sector to build workforce development opportunities and reduce educational inequity in Kaʻū. $449,725 was awarded to project lead Kaʻū High and Pāhala Elementary.
  • UH Mānoa’s College of Education received $419,600 for two projects: 1) building a community of special educators that can support the recruitment-to-retention pipeline to increase educational outcomes for students with disabilities and 2) creating a safe space for the Waipahu community, including Chuukese and Marshallese families, so they can accelerate learning through educational and cultural resources.
  • UH is part of a project to create a testing center for academic gaps due to COVID-19, that will provide evaluation and assessment of students and support to overcome learning differences and reduce drop-out rates. $378,000 was awarded to project lead Assets School.
  • Windward CC and UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences are supporting partners in a project called “Education Program for Imprisoned Women,” which trains incarcerated women to be GED (general education development) tutors for their peers, provides college correspondence courses for women in the Women’s Community Correctional Center, and provides reentry and transition services for women wanting to continue their education post incarceration. A $250,000 grant was awarded to project lead Hawaiʻi Friends of Restorative Justice.
  • Leeward CC is supporting a project that will infuse agriculture technology into the conventional system to address food insecurity of Wahiawā students and families, while building knowledge and skills for evolving careers in agriculture and technology in Central Oʻahu. $234,000 was awarded to project lead Leilehua High School area complex.
  • Leeward CC‘s Teacher Education Program received $210,000 to conduct a workforce needs assessment leading to an innovative design for “teacher-in-training” pathways to reduce turnover and attrition. Intended project partners include UH Maui College, Hawaiʻi CC, Waipahu High School and Kūlia and Ka Lama Education Academy.
  • UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is supporting Washington Middle School in its project, “STEAM Entrepreneurship and Research Network,” where students and teachers engage in interdisciplinary learning activities to re-connect students to science and connections to community in their world through immersion in culture, sustainable agriculture, community service and personal growth. This project received a $150,000 grant.
  • UH Hilo received a $149,000 GEER grant to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to build relationships with and contribute to their communities so they can thrive socially, emotionally and academically in a supportive environment. Partners include the County of Hawaiʻi and KTA Super Stores.
  • UH Mānoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene received $130,000 to create a telehealth training toolkit that is culturally appropriate, immersive and experiential for healthcare providers and students, so they can provide high quality team-based healthcare. Project partners include Hawaiʻi Interprofessional Education (HIPE), UH Maui College, Kauaʻi CC, Kapiʻolani CC and Hawaiʻi Keiki school-based clinics. Read more at the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene website.
  • Windward CC is working with elementary schools in Waiāhole and Kaʻaʻawa, and other partners, to develop outdoor learning spaces where students can engage in place-based learning to address food security and develop healthy food chains. This project received a $100,000 GEER grant.

GEER fund applicants were required to submit a proposal addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on school services, including measurable goals and indicators, evidence-based practices and/or innovative strategies, enabling actions and estimated timelines, and personnel and budget and other resource information.

UH previously received $5 million in GEER funds to create the Distance Learning Teacher Academy (Hawaiʻi Online Portal for Education). UH’s Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education was also awarded $600,000 to develop the Next Steps to Your Future initiative for public high school seniors whose college career plans were impacted by the pandemic in 2020–21.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is changing Hawaiʻi, 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,” Ige said.

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