Ke Alahele Education Fund dinner raises $338,046
What percentage of the Earth’s water can be used for drinking? Fifth-grader Alexa Justus of Haiku Elementary School held the answer as she tested an audience of 700 people attending Saturday night’s benefit for the Maui Economic Development Board Ke Alahele Education Fund.
The question, and then the answer — less than 1 percent — was posed by Alexa during the fundraiser segment titled “Who is Smarter than a STEM 5th-grader?”
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — all subjects important for developing a strong work force for Maui’s future of high-technology industries.
At the Ke Alahele dinner held last night (August 18), guests were paired off into teams and challenged to respond to science and math questions posed via video by island 5th-graders. As the game hosts, Mayor Alan Arakawa and his wife, Ann, cheered on the record crowd celebrating MEDB’s 30th anniversary at the Grand Wailea Resort.
“Keep up the good work,” Mrs. Arakawa told the crowd as teams huddled together to decide on which of the multiple-choice answers to choose. “It’s a reminder how important STEM education is to the community,” the mayor said as he wrapped up a game that inspired lots of competitive fun and laughter.
The 2012 Ke Alahele fundraiser garnered the most money raised in its history — $338,046.
Long-time MEDB supporter U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who headlined the event with his wife, Irene Hirano, was given a standing ovation. Inouye fielded questions from the event emcees Bryce Ribucan, a 2010 Maui High School graduate, and Lindzi Takasaki, an 8th-grader at Lokelani Intermediate School.
“How was homework done without Google?” Takasaki asked. “Thank God we didn’t have Google,” Inouye joked. “I wouldn’t know what to do with it.”
To Ribucan, a mechanical engineering major in college, Inouye predicted a “good future” and applauded MEDB backers for rallying behind the nonprofit’s projects, especially ones that help young people. “You’ve inspired them. You’ve given them hope,” Inouye said.
Proceeds from the Ke Alahele Education Fund dinner are used by MEDB to support and administer MEDB-led STEM educational programs and to provide grants for the expansion Science, Technology, Engineering and Math educational initiatives. To date, the fund has empowered more than 38,700 students and teachers in Maui County.
MEDB President and CEO Jeanne Skog thanked the Maui community and leaders in both the public and private sector for their monetary support on Saturday night. “I promise you it’s going to be put into good use,” Skog said.
The Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established in 1982 with a focus on diversifying Maui’s economy. MEDB partners with the private, public and nonprofit sectors at the local and national levels to achieve its goals. MEDB’s programs — which are founded on a respect for Hawaii’s culture and precious environment — assist growth industries, educate and train residents for new career pathways, and build consensus in addressing the community’s challenges and opportunities.
MEDB is governed by a 36-member Board of Directors drawn from business, government, academia and nonprofit organizations. For more information, call 875-2300.