Our Islands, Our Future

Programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math take center stage this week as Maui Economic Development Board rolls out its annual Ke Alahele Education Fund Dinner & Auction. Hundreds of supporters are expected to raise money Saturday at the Grand Wailea Resort for innovative STEM programs in schools and communities on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. “We are grateful to our generous businesses and community stakeholders for rallying behind our young people’s passion and pursuit of STEM learning and careers,” MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog said.

Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui and his wife, Lyndelle, and Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife, Ann, are the 2014 Distinguished Educators for the annual gathering. Tsutsui called the Ke Alahele dinner a worthwhile event that recognizes the need to support and expand STEM programs. “We are nurturing budding scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will create new ideas, new products and new industries,” he said. “The ability to understand and use STEM facts, principles and techniques are skills that can enhance an individual’s ability to succeed in school and beyond in a wide array of disciplines.”

In the most recent school year, the Ke Alahele Education Fund awarded nearly $175,000 to support robotics team competition locally, statewide and nationally; equipped digital media labs and engineering programs with updated tools, software and training; and organized the annual Science Olympiad. This year’s dinner will also feature the presentation of the annual Daniel K. Inouye Innovation Award. It’s given in honor of the late U.S. senator’s vision for Maui as an innovative center for scientific and technological advances. The student team will be recognized for innovative use of STEM tools and capabilities to serve and improve the community. Donations for the education fund are still being accepted. Call 875-2300, or visit