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Hirono, Tokuda Lead Hawaii and Alaska Delegations in Introducing Bill to Expand Opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Alaska Natives in Agriculture

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Representative Jill Tokuda (D-HI) led the Hawaii and Alaska delegations in introducing the Parity for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Students in Agriculture Act, legislation that would reauthorize the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program for another five years and increase the authorized funding level of the program from $10 million to $15 million. The bill would also ensure grant awards could be used over multiple years to reduce administrative burdens on institutions.

“At a time when people in Hawaii and across the country lack access to healthy and affordable food and produce, it is important that we invest in institutions that are working to address these issues,” said Senator Hirono. “This grant program provides essential funding for institutions that support Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students pursuing these issues. By investing in our students, we are also investing in the future of our communities and economies—helping to strengthen long-term food sustainability.”

The program promotes the ability of institutions like the University of Hawaii and University of Alaska to improve and expand their capacity to provide supplemental educational services to  Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. Grant funds can be used to carry out education, applied research, and related community development programs and to address educational needs within food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines. Priority is given to projects that enhance educational equity for underrepresented students; strengthen institutional educational capacities; prepare students for careers related to the food, agricultural, and natural resource systems; and maximize the development and use of resources to improve food and agricultural sciences teaching programs.

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Representatives Ed Case (D-HI) and Mary Peltola (D-AK) are also original co-sponsors of the bill.