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Hawaii Community College Receives Nearly $800,000 in Federal Funds to Support Youth Development Programs in Kea'au

Hawaiʻi Community College
Trina Nahm-Mijo, (808) 974-7551
Comprehensive Kupuhou Project
Arlene Abiang, (808) 956-5637
External Affairs & University Relations
Posted: Oct 8, 2004

HILO, Hawaiʻi — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Hawaiʻi Community College with a three-year, $794,976 grant from the Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian Institutions Assisting Communities. This is the first time the Big Island has received the grant. Hawaiʻi CC will use the funds to partner its resources with community programs in the district of Keaʻau, a low- to moderate-income area in Puna on the Big Island.

In partnership with Bay Clinic, a non-profit agency that specializes in primary care for families, Hawaiʻi CC will use part of the funds to eqiup a facility that will be renovated to become the Keaʻau Youth Business Center. The new center is scheduled for completion in early 2005 and will be equipped with a commercial kitchen and a state-of-the-art multi-media digital arts lab and recording studio for youth-driven projects. The driving force behind the project is a planning committee made up of 12 youth who helped design the building and decided what areas of entrepreneurship they wanted to develop.

In addition to the youth center, the grant will be used to create career and job-training programs for at-risk youth. Recent statistics show that 48 percent of the Puna population lives below the federal poverty level of $400 per month for a single person, and the percentage of young children living in poverty is one of the highest in the state. Youth development in the area is considered crucial as it has an unemployment rate of 11 percent compared to the 3.3 percent overall statewide rate.

"Given these negative social indicators, youth programs focused on increased job training would give the greatest benefit to improving household incomes," said Trina Nahm-Mijo, principal investigator of the grant and Hawaiʻi CC professor. "The center and these programs will be a pathway to the community college and give hope back to a distressed community."

The Office of University Partnerships within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development annually awards the Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian Institutions grant to expand each institution‘s goal and effectiveness in addressing community development needs in their localities. The maximum of $800,000 can be requested by each institution for a performance period of 36 months.