University of Hawaii/USA Funds Partnership: Building Hawaii’s Innovation Economy and Workforce

USA Funds®’ grants to the University of Hawaii Foundation and Project Lead the Way will help prepare Hawaii students so that they have the skills and expertise the state needs in high-wage and high-demand science, technology, math and engineering fields.

By 2017, Hawaii is projected to need 16,000 more workers annually with STEM skills, yet the state ranks 47th in the number of STEM degrees awarded per 100,000 inhabitants. In addition, Hawaii is attempting to combat a “brain drain” by creating more opportunities for residents of the state to stay in Hawaii after high school or college.

USA Funds’ grant of $4.6 million to the University of Hawaii Foundation will support several initiatives to address these issues, including the following:

  • Develop models of statewide industry, government and higher education collaboration to determine current and future workforce needs.
  • Create a continuous academic pathway in STEM education.
  • Support economic development and high-quality job creation in innovation and STEM areas of the state’s economy through just-in-time workforce development.
  • Enhance Hawaii’s student information system to inform students and advisers of the most efficient education pathways, especially for STEM degrees.
  • Create best practices in statewide workforce and education data collection and integration to help drive decisions by policymakers, education leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Create a STEM Center for Excellence that will serve as a resource to sustain STEM-related activities across the state.

A nearly $2.2 million USA Funds grant to Project Lead The Way will help at least 48 Hawaii high schools implement programs in computer science, engineering or biomedical science. Project Lead the Way has announced the initial 12 Hawaii schools that will benefit from the program.

The USA Funds grant also extends a partnership with the state of Hawaii and its higher education system that dates from 1979.