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  • Dr. Marjorie Fitting Gifford presents a check for $16,000 to UH Foundation for KCC”s Sustainable Building Construction project. Left to right: KCC Carpentry Instructor Duke Lang, Marjorie Fitting Gifford, KCC Chancellor Joe Daisy, UH Foundation Director of Development Rose Ramos-Benzel and KCC Associate Professor Dirk Soma

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Marjorie Fitting Gifford, Kaua`i Community College’s award-winning Sustainable Building Construction Technology proposal will come to life with the building of an 8 x 40 sustainable tiny home. Gifford’s donation provides seed money for the Carpentry program to erect the structure’s foundation and framing as well as provide student stipends for Native Hawaiian students.

KCC Assistant Professor and Business Program Coordinator Dirk Soma, Trades Division Chair Gordon Talbo and Carpentry instructor Duke Lang collaborated on the winning proposal in the Ratcliffe Foundation’s 2019 Pitch Competition for the Trades, winning $15,000. The goal of the competition was to foster job creation for the trades, targeting skill enhancement, job creation and entrepreneurship. KCC’s proposal incorporated entrepreneurship skill sets to enable students to become business owners and included using a 40-acre portion of the campus to allow students to design and develop a community that incorporates sustainability in every stage. This community will not only solve the College’s need for student and faculty housing, it can also be replicated across Kaua`i, the state and the world.

In December, Soma and Lang presented their proposal at KCC’s Ho`omaikai Reception, an event that honors major donors and community partners. Gifford was impressed by their presentation, wanted to learn more and offered her support. She is passionate about sustainability and was intrigued by the entrepreneurship and trades components of the project. “We need to become more sustainable on Kaua`i and create opportunities for students by sparking interest to start businesses through KCC’s curriculum. This exciting project has a lot of potential to create jobs in green technology and move Kaua`i toward a sustainable future,” Gifford said.

Kaua`i Community College Chancellor Joe Daisy is equally enthusiastic about the venture and its long-term impact. “The pilot structure will incorporate alternative energy, waste management, native trees and re-purposed materials in the design and construction,” Daisy stated. Entrepreneurship opportunities for our students is one of Daisy’s priorities, and he is grateful to Gifford for her support of this project that addresses the need for sustainable and affordable housing.

Questions? / More Information

If you would like to learn how you can support UH students and programs like this, please contact us at 808 376-7800 or send us a message.

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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.