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Government & Civics

Building Strength in Community, By the Community

HCF’s philosophy is that cross-sector collective action and shared values can create the most impact. Here are two projects that exemplify that.

Two young girls smiling and hugging

The Kaua‘i Resilience Project

One in 11 people between the ages of 15 and 24 attempt suicide each year on Kaua‘i. Community leaders were alarmed that this is among the highest rates in the state, which drove the nonprofit Kaua‘i Planning and Action Alliance to launch the Kaua‘i Resilience Project (KRP), a movement to reduce suicide attempts by increasing community connection, resilience and life skills in Kaua‘i youth.

HCF is a partner and key funder of the Kaua‘i Resilience Project. Each month KRP brings together a diverse group of stakeholders such as Kaua‘i County Council members, Hawai‘i Department of Health, Hawai‘i Department of Education, family-business owners, major funders, mental health professionals from the private sector, and civic groups, to collectively support Kaua‘i’s young people.

According to the latest research, suicide prevention for youth isn’t solely about mental health but is also about gaining skills and support networks for handling adversities in life.

That is why the Kaua‘i Resilience Project set goals such as creating safe spaces for youth with increased access to afterschool programs, social emotional learning curriculum in schools and a community awareness campaign. In 2019, KRP launched the Kaua‘i’s Kids are Your Kids campaign aimed at encouraging adults to support young people and the YouGotThisKauai campaign, that offers tips on healthy behavior and monthly challenges for Kaua‘i’s youth, to support connection to community.


Young children posing and wearing Vibrant Hawai'i shirts

Vibrant Hawai‘i

On the Island of Hawai‘i, HCF helped support the September 2019 launch of a new group, Vibrant Hawai‘i. The group formed as a community response to poverty on the island. There, nearly 60% of families are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE is standardized data used by United Way and produced every two years to assess cost of living and assess financial hardship across the United States.

ALICE households are employed, but struggle to meet the bare minimum budgets they need for basics like groceries, child care and transportation. They are faced with stagnant wages, but rising costs on health care, housing and transportation.

Vibrant Hawai‘i “is a growing community that commits to individual and collective ‘auamo kuleana*,” says Diane Chadwick, director of community philanthropy for HCF. “They gathered on a regular basis and pushed themselves on the notions of equity, ‘get chance/get choice’, and making action plans with people who had the experience with the issues they wanted to tackle. They formed committees to focus on aspects such as improving education, financial resiliency, workforce opportunities, and accessible housing.”

As Vibrant Hawai‘i was in its nascent stages, it received feedback not to focus on poverty but rather on the fact that there is abundance within Hawai‘i Island communities, such as belonging to ‘ohana, a faith congregation, schools, teams, and having access to natural resources like the ocean and forests. That became the organization’s mission: to build on these strengths. With the group’s official 2019 launch, and now forming a 501(c)3, the organization seeks to organize a collective movement to create a better life for all on Hawai‘i Island.

*‘Auamo Kuleana: to shoulder one’s human rights, responsibilities and privileges.

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