Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge Set

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Conservation and education nonprofit Kupu, in partnership with Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation, is launching its fourth annual Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge project-grant program, which supports student-led environmental initiatives.

Applications are now open and due Oct. 19, 2019. Students in grades 6 through 12 from public, private and charter schools statewide are encouraged to apply.

“We are so excited to host another Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge,” said 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 $19,015 in project-grants ranging to 29 teams across 23 schools. On Hawai‘i Island, a student at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy designed a three-class curriculum and a field trip where she taught kids within her school about coral, bleaching, and to mitigate its effects. Teacher Laura Jim said,


“Ali’s project was impactful in so many ways,” said Laura Jim, her teacher. “She took on a leadership position as she helped manage her peers’ participation in the project, took an educator position with the fourth-grade students and served a collaborative position with various adults. These positions enabled Ali to mature in ways that would not be possible without this experience.”

Individual projects will be awarded up to $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.

Also, for the first time, additional opportunities will be provided to help students develop projects and receive additional training as they work to implement their ideas. Grant recipients will be selected in late fall, and projects will commence in January. Projects are required to be implemented and completed by the end of the 2019-2020 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,” said 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 2019-2020 Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge is produced by Kupu and Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation with support from Kamehameha Schools and other community organizations.

Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge has been supported by Kamehameha Schools, Kaiser Permanent, Public Schools of Hawaiʻi Foundation, HouseMart, Finance Factors, eWorldES, Turtle Bay Foundation, Pūlama Lāna‘i, FedEx Cares, and the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation.


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

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