Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge Mini-Grant Program

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Big Island students who want to help their schools or communities go green now have a chance to earn funding to back their big ideas. Conservation and education nonprofit Kupu, in partnership with Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation, is launching its third annual Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant program, which supports student-led environmental initiatives.

Applications are now open and due Oct. 19. Students in grades 6-12 from public, private, and charter schools statewide are encouraged to apply.

“We are so excited to host another Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant opportunity,” says Kupu CEO John Leong. “Not only is this a great experience for Hawai‘i’s next generation of eco-preneurs and eco-engineers, but it’s also a win for the community at large. We have seen so many students generate innovative and effective projects that address pressing environmental issues. We can’t wait to see what our future leaders come up with this year.”

Last school year, the program provided a total of $17,525 in mini-grants ranging from $150 to $1,000 to 22 student teams across 20 schools. Students at E. B. de Silva Elementary, for example, created an aquaponics system, while students at Volcano School of Arts & Sciences assisted a native plant restoration effort.


“The presence of the tanks in the classroom turned my class alive and captured the attention of all my classes,” said E. B. de Silva Elementary teacher Kimberlee Chinen. “All the students involved themselves in donating fish, naming fish, and observing the many changes that occurred in time with the plants and fish … Our aquaponic systems were quite successful and yielded edible herbs and strawberries for us to enjoy!”

Individual projects will be awarded between $150 and $1,000 based on scope and need. Project proposals can be submitted individually, in groups, or involve a collaboration between two or more schools. Each team must include one teacher adviser and will also be paired with an outside mentor to support project development. Selected grant recipients will be announced in November, and funding will be provided in January. Projects are required to be implemented and completed by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

“Last year’s Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge projects were impactful not just on the students that participated in them, but also the schools and communities that their projects reached,” says Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation Executive Director Natalie McKinney. “Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation is excited for a new batch of projects spearheaded by youth leaders who care about and want to make positive impacts on our environment.”


The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge is a legacy initiative of the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, where it was first announced by first lady Mrs. Dawn Amano-Ige, with the goal of inspiring youth to engage with the environment through action, advocacy, and education. The 2018-2019 Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge is produced by Kupu and Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation with support from Kamehameha Schools and other community organizations.

For more information on Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, visit online.

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