THINK Fund Awards 11 Scholarships

August 1, 2016, 2:00 PM HST
* Updated August 1, 2:04 PM
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THINK Fund courtesy image.

THINK Fund courtesy image.

Eleven outstanding Hawai‘i Island students have been awarded scholarships totaling $194,000 by the THINK Fund at Pauahi Foundation. They join last year’s 10 scholarship recipients in receiving funds that will provide support for the remainder of their academic college graduate careers.

The multi-year commitment to the students was designed to reassure students and their families of continued support and reduce the barrier of family finances limiting college attendance and long-term career success.

The Thirty Meter Telescope launched THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund in 2014 to better prepare Hawai‘i Island students to master STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawai‘i’s 21st century economy.

Specific criteria for the THINK Fund at Pauahi Foundation includes being a Hawai‘i Island resident; majoring in STEM or a STEM-related field, including vocational technical fields; full-time enrollment; a minimum 2.5 GPA; and a demonstrated financial need or demonstration of merit achievement in current studies.

One of this year’s scholarship recipients was quoted in his online application: “I’ve always loved science. From the age of 7 until now, I have always loved to learn of the unknown, test out the waters of places in which we have yet to traverse and to make sense of the mysteries of the world. Over the course of time, I have always felt a connection to science. It was through these connections that I was actually able to form my goals.”


The 2016 scholarship students are all pursuing STEM-related degrees. They are a diverse group, planning careers in medicine, biology (including marine biology and microbiology), mechanical and civil engineering, aviation science and ecopsychology.


The recipients come from public, charter and private high schools across the island, and the colleges they have chosen mirror their wide-ranging choices of careers: University of Hawai‘i Hilo, Hawai‘i Community College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Linfield College, Grand Canyon University, University of Miami, Central Washington University, Stanford and Cal State Sacramento.

Among the recipients, some overcame a variety of obstacles, and they acknowledge the tremendous support of mentors, who encouraged and supported them, and made their success possible.

The students have significant aspirations as noted in some of the essays quoted below:


“I want to research the microscopic world around us. The things that lived billions of years ago make up what life is like today and that what I want to study. I want to research these microbes and find ways to make the human and earth interaction a more sustainable and healthy symbiotic relationship.“

“I would like to find ways that Hawaii can become modern while maintaining culture and tradition,” a civil engineering major wrote. “Through Hawai‘i’s unique climate and resources, the possibilities for development are endless. Developing in such a unique place is what will lead to discovery and that discovery is the type that will contribute to breakthroughs in technological advances and research through providing the world with new knowledge. I intend to play a role in ending the conflict between development and the Native Hawaiian society.”


TMT’s THINK Fund initiative benefits Hawai‘i Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million. TMT selected two Hawai‘i foundations—Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation—to administer THINK Fund distribution in scholarship and grant making platforms. TMT has so far funded $2 million to the THINK initiative.

TMT’s annual $1 million contribution allocates $750,000 to THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and $250,000 to THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. The foundations administer their respective THINK Funds independently and have autonomy in administering grant funds, determining scholarship recipients, and selecting and governing their Advisory Committees.

The Thirty Meter Telescope initiated dialogue on the formation of THINK Fund in 2008 by asking a group of community volunteers to outline the mission, vision, purpose and implementation strategy of an education fund benefitting Hawai‘i Island students.

The organizing committee that developed TMT’s THINK Fund structure was comprised of Hawai‘i Island residents. The organizing committee determined that scholarships, grant making and the establishment of an endowment would ensure the sustainability of improving educational opportunities for Hawai‘i Island students in STEM disciplines.

It further recognized that an emphasis be given to improving opportunities for STEM education for Native Hawaiian students, not as an exclusive preference, but focusing on addressing the needs of Hawai‘i’s host culture.

Scholarships are the major focus of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation with some initial STEM grants going to programming including the highly successful Science Camps of America, a 10-day Hawaii Island summer session featuring a Land & Sea and Air & Space focus.

The THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation is open to all Hawai‘i Island students with a preference given to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law.

Advisory committee members of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation are Roberta Chu, Kaeo Duarte, Leinaala Enos, David Ka‘apu, Bob Lindsey, Gail Makuakane-Lundin and Maile Wong.

Pauahi Foundation

Established in 2001 by the trustees of Kamehameha Schools as its philanthropic arm, the Pauahi Foundation’s efforts center on building community partnerships and creating educational opportunities that transform lives within the Hawaiian community. The foundation accomplishes its mission by awarding more than 200 donor-funded scholarships and grants annually. For more information about the Pauahi Foundation, visit


The Thirty Meter Telescope Project has been developed as collaboration among Caltech, UC, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), and the national institutes of Japan, China and India with the goal to design, develop, construct, and operate a thirty-meter class telescope and observatory on Mauna Kea in cooperation with the University of Hawaii (TMT Project).

The TMT International Observatory LLC, a nonprofit organization, was established in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT Project. The members of TIO are Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada); the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate. The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation has provided major funding.

For more information about the TMT project, visit

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