Our Islands, Our Future

In reflecting on how young people are encouraged to tell stories in Akaku’s Youth Broadband Education and Awareness Mentoring program, Akaku Education Director Kat Tracy pointed to the Apple computer company founder and visionary Steve Jobs. Jobs “envisioned putting the tools to create stories on devices that we carry with us, in essence, to democratize the media,” she said. “Pew Reports indicate that up to 89 percent of the public own smart devices with video capability, outnumbering ownership of desktop computers. That is how we are encouraged to use the technology to tell stories, by owning it. But, owning it alone won’t be enough, we need training on how to effectively, and responsibly, use those tools.”

Tracy said STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) “embraces technology, and in video what sits between your idea or message is technology. It is the bridge you must cross to share your story.” Akaku’s youth education and mentoring program received a grant from the Maui Economic Development Board’s Ke Alahele Education Fund. “MEDB demonstrates a true intention of supporting STEM education and training for Maui Nui youth through support of numerous innovative initiatives. I feel like we stand among giants! This support also enables us to be good community partners, as well as create new ones.”

Tracy said the grant was instrumental in allowing Akaku to expand its mobile journalism program, Project YBEAM, to Molokai through purchase of additional equipment and support for curriculum training of its part-time Molokai educational coordinator. “Seeing the launch projects there and the enthusiasm from the youth and public there really solidifies that this expansion will be well served,” she said. Tracy said Akaku’s students continue to speak about learning how to interview people for stories and how that builds their self-confidence. MEDB established the Ke Alahele Education Fund to power up STEM Education in Maui County. This year’s Ke Alahele Education Dinner and Auction will be held Aug. 23 at the Grand Wailea Resort. For more information, call 875-2300, or visit