Maui Community College Receives $6.9 Million in Grants for Rural Development and Job Training Programs

Largest award to date to community college in state of Hawaii

Maui College
John Dunnicliffe, (808) 984-3300
Statewide Project Director
Posted: Sep 9, 2002

Maui Community College (MCC) announced that it has received $6.9 million in grants for rural development and job training programs on Maui, Molokaʻi, Lanaʻi, Kauaʻi and the Big Island through the U.S. Department of Labor. Statewide coordination of the $4 million Rural Development Project (RDP) and the $2.9 million Rural Job Training Initiative (RJTI) will be handled through the RDP office on the MCC campus under the direction of John Dunnicliffe, project director. The RDP provides funding to rural community colleges to develop leadership training, small business support, computer literacy training and farm management training, while the RJTI focuses on enhancing the employment potential of citizens in rural communities, with an emphasis on high-demand professions such as education and health care.

"I applaud the leadership at MCC for this historic grant -- the largest programmatic award made to date to a community college in the state of Hawaiʻi. I expect that these initiatives will offer unique opportunities for our rural communities to invent sustainable strategies for economic and community improvements. These efforts will require creative partnerships between the university and our neighbor island communities," said University of Hawaiʻi President Evan Dobelle.

Dr. Clyde Sakamoto, MCC provost currently assigned to develop baccalaureate degrees at MCC and other community colleges, is the principal investigator for the projects. He notes, "The purpose of these grants is to invest in the infrastructure of rural communities. In some cases, the investment is in physical infrastructure, as with computing labs on Lanaʻi and fishponds on Molokaʻi. In other cases, the infrastructure investment is in human capital. For example, during the fall semester we will be providing tuition assistance and thereby investing in 75 students from Kauaʻi, Maui and the Big Island who are enrolled in the MCC educational assistants program. When these students take their education back to their communities‘ classrooms and help to teach our youngest generation, our investment begins to pay dividends. As infrastructure investments, programs and services funded by these monies should outlive the life of the grant."

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who was instrumental in establishing the RDP in 1997, noted, "Many of Hawaiʻi‘s citizens enjoy living in small, close-knit communities, but are challenged by their limited access to educational and employment opportunities. These programs help them overcome these challenges, and offer a way for them to remain in and contribute to their communities in a meaningful and rewarding way. Furthermore, the programs reduce employers‘ costly expense of recruiting and retaining trained workers from the mainland."

The original rural development grant of $200,000 was awarded in 1997, and resulted from Senator Inouye's desire to address the needs expressed by the Lanaʻi community for assistance with computer literacy, leadership training and youth mentoring. Based on the Lanaʻi program‘s success, subsequent years‘ awards were $1 million, $2.5 million, and $2.3 million, and the scope of the project was expanded to include the islands of Maui, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi, and the Big Island.

Some of this year‘s funds have been earmarked for specific programs, including $1 million for teacher programs and training of vice principals and educational assistants, and approximately $1 million for home health nurse training. In addition, each island participating in the program receives its own allocation, which is under the jurisdiction of its community advisory committee and provost. Through community surveys and resident input, the RDP has funded a number of community-specific programs, including:

Medical Needs of Geographically-Isolated Hana: Launched an advanced emergency medical technician training program, which includes telemedicine training to coordinate delivery of service with health professionals at Maui Memorial Health Center.

Unexploded Ordnance Training and Certification Program: Trains civilians to assist the military‘s cleanup of Kahoʻolawe and other unexploded ordnance sites worldwide.

Mauna Kea Science Reserve Specialty Training: The Mauna Kea scientific community currently recruits most of its metalworkers and machinists from the mainland. This program will train Hawaiʻi residents for these positions, as well as to fill interpretive field guide job openings.

Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) Targeted Training: This program provides job training, including computer training, to Kauaʻi residents to meet PMRF‘s labor needs, and improve the recruitment and retention of locally-trained employees.

Community Worker Case Manager Training: This is a formal, systematic training for outreach workers and case work managers (positions that are in high demand at community health centers) to help medically underserved populations overcome cultural, linguistic, and economic barriers to health care.

Statewide project director John Dunnicliffe said, "These grants are notable for the latitude they give rural communities to identify their specific needs and invest for the future. A basic tenet of the RDP is the parable of teaching people to fish rather than catching the fish for them."

About Maui Community College:

Maui Community College, under the auspices of the University of Hawaiʻi, is a tri-island institution with a main campus in Kahului, and learning centers in Hana and on the islands of Molokaʻi and Lanaʻi. The college offers 2-year liberal arts degrees and 16 vocational-technical degrees and certificate programs, as well as baccalaureate and graduate degrees through its University Center. The college works closely with the Maui High Performance Computing Center and offers a variety of special programs and curricula, including the Marine Option Program, Space Grant, Maui Language Institute, Maui Institute for Sustainable Technologies, apprenticeships programs, and cooperative education programs.