Ige encourages Hawaii schools to take creative initiatives with GEER ‘innovation grants’

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FILE – The shadows of a school employee escorting a student are cast on the wall as they walk to a classroom. (Courtesy: Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige on Wednesday announced that $4 million in innovation grants is available for Hawaii’s schools, including public, private and charter schools, institutions of higher education. Other educational entities, such as museums and cultural centers, are also eligible.

The innovation grants are provided by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.

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The grants aim to fund innovative initiatives to address the immediate needs of schools and educational entities, as well as the impact that the coronavirus pandemic continues to have on students and parents in Hawaii.

This includes continuing to provide educational services while schools and campuses are closed, such as expanding remote learning efforts and digital equity, and supporting the ongoing functionality of those schools and campuses. Hardware and software, connectivity, and instructional expertise development will be eligible uses.

Under the GEER funding, the U.S. Department of Education awards grants to Governors for the purpose of providing local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and other education related entities with emergency assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 22, 2020, Hawaii was awarded $9,993,387 in federal funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund as part of the CARES Act.

Click here to read the State of Hawaii Initial Report for the GEER Fund released on July 15, 2020.

Of the $9 million, the first $5 million was granted to the University of Hawaii to create the Distance Learning Teacher Academy (Hawaii Online Portal for Education).

UH president David Lassner on Wednesday said the hope is to build a community of educators who will be focused on content.

“We’re really focused on free online content that can transform education and enable our teachers to be much more innovative,” he said.

The UH was also awarded $600,000 to develop the Transition to College Program (Next Steps to Your Future) for public high school juniors and seniors whose college career plans were impacted by the pandemic. Free community college courses and a scholarship program will be offered.

To apply for the $4 million in innovation grants, click here and then go to the “Education” tab in the sidebar at left. The deadline to apply is June 4 at 5 p.m.

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