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Strengthening Hawai‘i’s Communities
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Puna Strong

Puna Strong has a community-based disaster management approach that values the knowledge and capacities of residents; builds on local resources, including social capital; and aims to increase community resilience. Community resilience is the ability for the community to efficiently use available resources to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations such as the Kīlauea eruption of 2018.

In January 2021, The County of Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Community Foundation launched Puna Strong to assist with disaster readiness and community resilience, both strategies identified in the Kīlauea Recovery and Resilience Plan, following the 2018 Kīlauea eruption. It is supported by $250,000 from the County’s recovery funds and $130,000 from HCF’s Hawai‘i Island Volcano Recovery Fund, Hawai‘i Island Strong Fund and Anderson-Beck Fund.

In addition to providing grants, the County and HCF will work with intermediaries in the community to assist with technical support, peer learning and network building among recipients.

Online Application is Now Closed.

Please contact Diane Chadwick at dchadwick@hcf-hawaii.org or 808-938-8533 with any questions.

Below are the 26 grantees of the Puna Strong grants program and their intended use of funding:

Ahava ‘Āina will address the long-term mental and emotional effects of Puna residents impacted by the 2018 Kīlauea eruption through a series of talk story and wellness events led by social workers and faith leaders.

Arts & Sciences Center will increase capacity to coordinate a variety of networking and learning opportunities for families and students of Hawai‘i Academy of Arts & Sciences and other surrounding schools, such as mentoring, yoga and hula circles.

Big Island Invasive Species Committee will coordinate neighborhood teams within Puna to educate and help treat for invasive pests, leading to the development of positive relationships between neighbors and strengthened resilience.

Boys and Girls Club of Big Island will offer academic support, critical needs resources, healthy lifestyles, substance and alcohol abuse prevention programming, and nutritional supplementation services to Puna youth.

Equality HI will host biannual Virtual Resource Fairs targeting LGBTQ+ individuals that are open to all Puna residents providing information and access to employment and financial literacy, housing resources, healthcare, domestic violence and human trafficking resources, community-building activities, cultural services, and LGBTQ+ history and awareness in Hawai‘i.

Fern Acres Community Association will continue constructing a resilience hub for the community that will include a Food Basket site, internet access and activities for keiki.

Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute will collaborate with Hawai‘i Academy of Arts and Sciences (HAAS) and Men of Pa‘a to provide healthy diet education to students and Native Hawaiian adults living in Puna.

Girls to Women Mentoring Hawai‘i will increase capacity to help Puna girls grow resilience, relationship-building skills and confidence.

Grassroots Church Pāhoa will continue construction on its 14-acre parcel of land that is currently being cleared with funding from the County of Hawai‘i Kīlauea Recovery Grants to focus on growing fresh produce, raising livestock and establishing orchids to provide jobs and teach work and life skills as well as be a hub for houseless families during disaster.

The Green Will Conservancy will teach life skills and provide counseling to Puna youth through hands-on backyard gardening and community service projects.

Hawai‘i Animal Kuleana Alliance will increase capacity for its emergency rescue operations.

Hawai‘i Tracker will increase capacity to create more digital content to maintain a level of trust between emergencies.

Hawai‘i’s Volcano Circus will expand its gardening program to offer four, six-week sessions on permaculture and gardening to the larger Seaview community and establish a tree-tending/harvest program.

Kanaka O Puna will prepare its site with a photo voltaic system to support its program and provide power for the community during emergencies.

Kua O Ka Lā will provide support for programs and facilities, such as a Backyard Imu project, which teaches students and families how to grow and prepare food by Hawaiian kūpuna as a way to promote resilience through learning how to feed their families.

Kūkulu Kumuhana o Puna will provide Hawaiian cultural learning experiences for youth and families to build relationships and practical skills in Hawaiian fishing and farming techniques.

Kurtistown Assembly of God will build a community REACH Center on its property that will provide Puna residents plots of land to learn about farming and producing their own food.

Mālama O Puna will be serving as the fiscal sponsor for five projects aimed at increasing food security, including an urban garden and permaculture model, seed production and exchange, Nānāwale backyard gardening project, community fruit orchard in Hawaiian Shores, and livestock production workshops.

O Maku‘u Ke Kahua Community Center will provide classes of papa kuʻi ‘ai (poi board class), which will show participants how to make a poi pounding board and the proper protocols when working with papa, including ʻoli komo, and ʻoli mahalo.

Orchidland Neighbors will create a community center that can be used for disaster response activities such as food and supply distribution, and to support economic development.

Pōhāhā I Ka Lani will continue community feeding and food distribution by distributing plants/cuttings, trees and seeds to families, offering guidance on farming from the demonstration garden in Puna, and more.

Project Hawai‘i will establish a regular tutoring program for homeless children who do not attend school and lack access to resources such as internet.

Puna Canoe Club will repair and refurbish a historic koa outrigger canoe, which is used to teach traditional outrigger canoe paddling and builds on the relationships and networks within their paddling community; networks that have assisted families in times of disaster.

Puna Rising will develop a virtual space of community resources that serve lower Puna, allowing residents to share stories, learn from each other, ask questions, and find solutions.

Uncle’s Kōkua Center will expand its lower Puna-serving farmer’s market to help revitalize the economy and neighborhood.

Volcano Friends Feeding Friends will continue coordinating its food distribution program for non-mobile residents in Volcano, including kūpuna as well as families without adequate transportation, and support volunteers earning food handling certification to make them eligible for employment in the food service industry.