HILO, HAWAII (July 5, 2018) – The Thirty Meter Telescope project (TMT) was recently awarded the 2018 Pualu Community Education Award by the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce for its educational contributions to the Hawaii Island community through its THINK Fund.

Meaning to “work together,” the Pualu Awards were established in 1979 to honor dedication and hard work in the community. The Pualu Community Education Award honors an individual or organization that promotes and supports education and enrichment programs that develop personal skills and lifelong learning.

In giving the award, it was noted that TMT listened to the community in the early stages of discussing the project when it heard what was needed was a TMT community benefit dedicated to education and Hawaii Island’s young people. TMT responded by creating The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund and making an annual $1 million contribution. To date, the Thirty Meter Telescope has funded $4 million to the THINK Fund initiative to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Science (STEM) on Hawaii Island.

“The Thirty Meter Telescope believes that education benefits all, and we have been active in promoting and supporting STEM education through the THINK Funds at the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Pauahi Foundation,” said TMT Hawaii Community Affairs Manager Sandra Dawson. “These efforts are already having a profound effect today in changing lives and helping young people and their families on Hawaii Island.”

The THINK Fund has awarded college scholarships totaling $1,050,000 to 116 local Hawaii Island students over the past four years and an additional $2 plus million to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) pursuits. The THINK Fund also has a $900,000 endowment to fund STEM education on Hawaii Island far into the future.

In addition to providing scholarships to local Hawaii Island students, the THINK Fund supports STEM Learning Grants (Career Connected Learning) to programs that demonstrate success in recruiting and addressing the needs of groups underrepresented in STEM fields, including students in rural communities, Native Hawaiians and those disengaged in school.

The THINK Fund also supports classroom grants through Thirty-nine of the 55 public and public charter schools on Hawaii Island have received grants with high need students receiving 78 percent of the funding.

TMT is a major funder to other educational programs on Hawaii Island including the Akamai Internship Program, GEMS, Journey Through the Universe, AstroDay, Pacific Astronomy and Engineering Summit, Super Science Fair, BrushBot and VEX Robotics programs. TMT is also funding a new Physics and Astronomy Computer Laboratory at UH Hilo and is a major funder of the UH Hilo 2018 Science Olympiad.