Honolulu Mayor Mayor Rick Blangiardi celebrates with the student and faculty team members of Urban Plan from ‘Iolani School and Kalani High School.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi recognized teams from ‘Iolani School and Kalani High School for taking first and third place, respectively, in the ULI UrbanPlan National Championships.

The competition was held virtually over Zoom during June with 12 student teams from across the United States participating. Organized by the ULI UrbanPlan program, the competition required each team to address a complex urban planning scenario. A panel of volunteer mentors and judges, composed of industry professionals, served as city council members in a mock council meeting. Each team had 10 minutes to present its solutions, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer session with judges. ‘Iolani, Kalani, and California’s Berkeley High advanced to the final round, and in a close competition, ‘Iolani won the national championship.

“The UrbanPlan program has supported future industry professionals in Hawaii for the past two decades, and we have been pleased to help the next generation tackle new issues and create even better communities,” said Jon Wallenstrom, a student mentor and organizer of Hawaii’s UrbanPlan program. “Our Hawaii teams shone on the national stage this year with innovative ideas to address difficult issues, and we are proud of all participating students and teachers. ‘Iolani and Kalani’s achievement is a testament to their hard work and an indicator that Hawaii’s future is in good hands.”

More than 130 Hawaii high school and University of Hawaii students participated in the statewide UrbanPlan program this year, which incorporates 15 hours of in-school instruction and participation by Hawaii urban planning professionals. In addition to Kalani High School and ‘Iolani School, the program is active at Le Jardin Academy and Mid-Pacific Institute.

In the UrbanPlan program, students each tackle one of five key roles—financial planner, city liaison, neighborhood liaison, marketing director, and site planner—to best replicate a real-world community planning scenario. This year students needed to tackle issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.

“The program gives students a wide-ranging technical skill set, including project management, finance, and emerging technologies,” said Bernice Glenn, one of the national competition judges and founder of the Bernice Glenn Scholars Program, which is distributing $5,000 in scholarships this year to Hawaii UrbanPlan students, plus additional funds to the national winners.