Investing In Community Wellbeing

Investing In Community Wellbeing
Think Fund

Innovation and exploration have been characteristics of Hawaii throughout history. The first Polynesians who populated these islands were at the forefront of science and technology for their times, designing and sailing canoes and navigating by the stars in search of new land and new opportunities. Our recent and future endeavors promoting a fertile environment for science and technology represent continuations of this long tradition.

Hawaii’s youth and their families struggle to balance educational dreams with the realities of local work opportunities and cost of living. One way to bridge that gap is by preparing students to be successful in job sectors that offer higher-than-average pay and career advancement right here in Hawaii. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) established THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund to give students a boost so they can reach STEM-related careers that support them to live, work, and thrive in the islands. From a parent helping his daughter gather limu for an experiment, to a middle school teacher leading a robotics team, to a community college student programming new equipment for a telescope – THINK Fund helps the people of Hawaii Island reach for the stars.

Since its establishment in 2014, THINK Fund has committed more than $5.1 million dollars for student scholarships and grants to schools and nonprofits on Hawaii Island, reaching 20,000 students and 97 schools and nonprofits.

The purpose of THINK Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation is to improve educational opportunities for Hawaii Island students that serve to prepare them to become the workforce for the science and technology economy of the 21st century Hawaii.

What value does THINK Fund bring to Hawaii Island?

  • THINK Fund provides materials and equipment for classrooms all over Hawaii Island – from robotics kits to iPads to school garden tools – giving students the chance to use today’s most advanced technology.
  • By supporting a wide range of local STEM-related career exploration, THINK Fund is helping youth see challenging, satisfying and well-paying potential jobs: that it is possible to be an agricultural engineer, natural resources manager, healthcare administrator, or astronomer and stay close to home.
  • THINK Fund has been a magnet for other funders who are now supporting more students, schools and nonprofits with grants.
  • Because we go farther together, THINK Fund has supported groups and networks with common goals – like the Hawaiian charter school STEM partnerships and island-wide robotics leagues – relationships that nurture our community connections.

Advisory Committee

THINK Fund at HCF has an advisory committee made up of thoughtful Hawaii Island community leaders who provide their expertise to support the HCF staff and board in fulfilling the goals of the fund. THINK Fund at HCF Advisory Committee assists in developing strategy, reviewing grant and scholarship applications and making award decisions. Each member also serves as an ambassador for the education and prosperity for the people of Hawaii Island.

Advisory Committee members of THINK Fund at HCF include: Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Kaeo Duarte, Farrah Marie Gomes, Doug Simons and Barry Taniguchi.

There are 4 ways to get involved in THINK Fund at HCF:

Teachers – Start here to post your classroom STEM project to be considered for funding on Criteria to qualify for classroom project funding include:

  • Public and public charter school teachers in grades 3-12.
  • Must be STEM-related projects. Learn more about previously funded projects here.
  • Can include materials, supplies, field trips, and classroom visitors.
  • Funding is limited to $3,500 total per teacher, per school year.
  • Funding for travel costs for students to attend off-island robotics competitions and academic STEM conferences within the state of Hawaii will be funded up to $500 per student with a maximum of $7,500 per teacher, per school year. Limited funding is available for student travel and will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Please contact Chelsey Chow at for instructions prior to submitting your student travel project through

Students – Apply for a scholarship to further your goals to complete a STEM college degree or training certificate. If you want to teach STEM on Hawaii Island, we have scholarships available for you too. Applications occur annually beginning November 15th at! It is never too late or too early to begin considering a STEM career in Hawaii and you can learn more here and here.

Nonprofits and Schools – THINK Fund supports grants to schools and nonprofits to fund large scale programs for students and teachers through the Career Connected Learning grants program led by Hawaii Community Foundation. You can submit a grant proposal annually for in-school and after-school activities for students, teacher professional development, or work-based learning programs. Read more about Career Connected Learning, review the RFP and other associated documents below, and apply here. We congratulate the 2015-2018 cohorts of grantees.

Donors – Give and support any or all of these great Hawaii Island STEM education opportunities by contributing to THINK Fund at HCF. For more information about THINK Fund, please contact Lydia Clements,, or call (808) 935-1206.

Join us in achieving these bold goals:

  • Increase the number of Hawaii Island students who are inspired to pursue postsecondary STEM fields of study.
  • Increase the number of Hawaii Island students who complete STEM degree and training programs.
  • Increase the number of effective STEM teachers on Hawaii Island.
  • Increase the number of effective STEM programs on Hawaii Island that also promote cultural competency or place-based learning.

See how THINK Fund is Strengthening STEM on Hawaii Island

Daryl Albano is a THINK Fund at HCF scholarship recipient and an intern with Akamai Workforce Initiative. Akamai receives support through STEM Learning Partnership and TMT.
Kealakehe HS student
Kealakehe HS student Maya Gee discusses her experience as part of the robotics team, a program supported through the STEM Learning Partnership.
Serena O’Neill
Serena O’Neill, Kea‘au High School teacher and robotics team coach, discusses the impact of THINK Fund at HCF support on STEM education in Hawai‘i Island. Mrs. O’Neill is a two-time recipient of a classroom grant and Kea‘au High School Robotics is supported through the STEM Learning Partnership.