The Hawai’i Youth Sustainability Challenge is providing Maui students an opportunity to realize innovative eco-friendly ideas through their annual project-grant program. The fourth annual program, which supports student-led environmental initiatives for keiki in grades 6-12, is being presented by conservation and education nonprofit Kupu in partnership with Kokua Hawai’i Foundation.
“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.”
During the 2018-2019 school year, the program provided $19,015 in project grants to 29 teams across 23 schools. Past Maui student projects included a solar-powered vermicompost tea brewer and a campaign to replace disposable dry-erase markers with refillable, environmentally-friendly whiteboard markers.
This past year, Maui Huliau Foundation hosted sunscreen education stations, where students gave out reef-safe sunscreen and information relating to the harmful effects of most sunscreens. A major component of their project was educating people on how sunscreen chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others are harmful to the well-being of people’s bodies and the reefs.
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, the program will be providing additional opportunities 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 Conservation Challenge projects were impactful not just on the students that participated in them, but also the schools and communities that their projects reached,” said KHF executive director Natalie McKinney. “Kokua 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.”
HYSC 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.
Applications are now open and due Oct. 19, 2019. Students in grades 6-12 from public, private, and charter schools statewide are encouraged to apply. For more information on HYSC, visit Kupuhawaii.org/hysc.
Photo courtesy of HYSC