Grants helpful but no substitute for stronger state funding

Since 1997, the University of Hawaii Maui College has secured more than $147 million in extramural grants from 422 awards. With $20 million awarded in the fiscal year 2013, the college placed second among the 10 UH campuses for grants received last year.

What does that mean for our students and our Maui Nui community? In addition to improving or developing new curricula, grants strengthen services. They fund new technologies, serve as a hub for developing partnerships among local and national public and private partners and address the unique higher educational challenges faced by a tri-isle county. The college also has led grant development on behalf of Kauai and Hawaii Community Colleges as part of a rural college consortium. These grants, along with construction and other Maui College initiatives, contributed about $85 million to the Maui County economy when the UH Economic Research Office published its 2012 report.

Even as the college pursues these grant resources, our core educational operational funding stems from state funding and student tuition. While the state and University of Hawaii System have generously supported our facilities development, the operational resources have not kept up with the 43 percent enrollment growth since 2006. These grants provide a path to continue to improve our education but are no substitute for stronger state funding support. In a statewide four county comparison, our tri-isle Maui County residents on a per capita basis receive the lowest state general fund support for higher education. These grants, therefore, have been essential to continue the college’s programmatic and service innovations and improvements. Some of these grant details follow.

Maui College’s Liko A’e program is the largest U.S. Department of Education scholarship program funding Native Hawaiians in the country. This program assists Native Hawaiians in Maui County, other islands in Hawaii and on the Mainland, and it has distributed about $10 million and was funded with another $1.5 million this last year. Federally funded programs motivate and support students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. The four programs include the Educational Opportunity Center, Student Support Services, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science.

Upward Bound first served students at Maui College in 1981. Over the past 33 years, Upward Bound has assisted more than 570 students in pursuit of higher education with services, stipends and jobs. Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science programs are funded for $3.1 million for the current five-year cycle and serve 145 students annually. The Upward Bound Math Science program will be piloting and evaluating an industry-aligned problem-based learning curriculum this summer.

Through initial collaboration with the Maui Farm Bureau, Maui College will be working with farmers and agricultural businesses to turn freshly grown product into value-added food (packaged, dried, or frozen). The college’s proposed Maui Food Innovation Center would serve farmers and agricultural producers, food-related business and product-development services, and be a comprehensive value-added facility. It also will provide college faculty and students with opportunities for applied research, experiential learning, marketing and workforce development and training.

Led by state Rep. Kyle Yamashita and our Maui legislators, the last lawmaking session appropriated $2.7 million to add to a prior $1.225 million to renovate the former campus kitchen and purchase appropriate equipment.

This appropriation follows $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund food product development services, education and training, and $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the feasibility study and business plan.

The college will continue to pursue grant opportunities that enrich student learning toward completing quality degrees and supporting workforce development. Stay tuned for future developments at

* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o means “sharing thoughts.” It appears on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and provides the community information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.