Mini-grant program for students and educators promotes sustainability

Kupu, a Hawaii conservation and youth education organization, and Kokua Hawai’i Foundation have announced the second annual Hawa’i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant program opportunity.

Students and educators in grades 6-12 at public, private and charter schools on Maui can apply for funding to support innovative and grass-roots environmental initiatives that will create new and sustainable solutions for their schools and communities.

“We are honored to support students and teachers throughout the state in developing their own sustainable solutions for Hawaii,” said Kupu CEO John Leong. “Seeing so many youth engage in ways to improve the environment and their communities is truly inspiring, and we look forward to supporting even more creative Hawai’i Youth Sustainability Challenge projects next year.”

This past year, Kupu and Kokua Hawai’i Foundation awarded funds to support two projects on Maui, including a solar-powered vermicompost tea brewer to promote healthy soil at Montessori School of Maui. At Seabury Hall, one student helped to reduce waste, lower supply costs and increase awareness about the benefits of using sustainable products such as refillable white board markers.

This coming year, $20,000 in total funding is available for individual project grants between $150 to $1,000, based on project scope and needs.

“Our youth are the change makers; they see solutions in challenges that many of us adults have a hard time envisioning,” added Natalie McKinney, Kokua Hawai’i Foundation executive director. “The HYSC offers them the opportunity to pilot sustainability solutions for their school community.”

HYSC mini-grant applications are available at The deadline to apply is Dec. 15.

Students and teachers may propose project ideas based on their environmental passions and motivation, interests in conservation education and desire to create sustainable, localized change. Proposals must be presented through one of the following three structures:

• Individually powered projects — One student and one teacher adviser.

• Group-powered projects — Multiple students and one teacher adviser.

• School collaboration-powered projects — Two or more schools collaborating on projects and one teacher adviser.

HYSC mini-grants will be selected in early January and funding will be distributed at the end of January through early February. Projects are required to be implemented by the end of the school year with final reports submitted by May 18. There will also be an opportunity for select students to present their final projects over the summer.

For more information about the Hawai’i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant program, visit