Hōkūpaʻa is a partnership created through the investment of West Hawaiʻi youth and community leaders from University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hawaiʻi Department of Education, Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi Community College – Palamanui, County of Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi County Council, Hawaiʻi County Prosecutor’s Office, West Hawaiʻi Community Health Centers, The Learning Coalition and Friends of the Future.

Mission: We work to empower students, support schools and connect community to increase the personal, educational and economic success for our youth and the future of Hawaiʻi.

West Hawaiʻi Challenge: Our Call to Action

The young people of West Hawaiʻi need our combined support to reach their full potential. Too many students are struggling academically and few students pursue additional education after high school. Many youth indicate they struggle with depression, bullying and diminished self-worth. Lower levels of education and personal coping skills can negatively affect their long-term quality of life and lifetime earning potential, while also impacting the future health and economy of Hawaiʻi.

Youth are seeking guidance and support from their communities because schools cannot solve this multifaceted challenge alone. When youth work in partnership with their families, schools and community partners, it provides the best opportunities to build connection and empowerment.

Inspiring this collective action is the work of Hōkūpaʻa.

Our Desired Outcomes for Youth

Public School Student and Teacher Success

Students thrive when parents support education, schools and teachers provide relevant learning environment and community partners connect to enhance learning opportunities. Multi-sector collaboration with classrooms can increase student engagement, academic performance, graduation rates and college and technical school enrollment/graduation. By working together, we can help schools improve education outcomes for our young people.

Youth Empowerment and Support

Our West Hawaiʻi youth leaders define “youth success” as a combination of: happiness, optimism, empowerment, confident, motivation, had work, determination, courage, support and contribution to the world.

Social-emotional resilience and wellness are linked to both academic performance and quality of life. Local youth have told us personal issues, such as interpersonal and emotional problems, are the tope reasons they cannot focus on their education and they would like more skills to overcome these challenges.

Community Connection

“It takes a whole community to teach you important values like respect, responsibility, trust and honor.” — 2015 Hōkūpaʻa Youth Council

The greatest resource for our young people is the collective wisdom and aloha within our own communities. By coming together and strengthening our relationships, we can increase communication, improve workforce development and sustain connections necessary for Hawaiʻi’s future.

Our Focus Areas

  • Improving student engagement by increasing the RELEVANCE of education to students’ aspirations, career goals and ʻreal life’

  • Strengthening RELATIONSHIPS with, and between, students and their peers, teachers, schools and community

  • Exploring ways to increase the social-emotional RESILIENCE and ‘life skills’ that will help students to be mentally and emotionally ready to enter adulthood

What Does Hōkūpaʻa Do?

RESEARCH THROUGH APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY - We ask many questions of diverse stakeholders because we believe the solutions to complex problems are found within the minds of our own community. We find out what is working now and look for the heroes who are doing great work in West Hawaiʻi to learn and connect.

CONVENE AND CONNECT - We bring people together from different areas, agencies and levels to have new conversations about what is possible. We build empathy for each other so we can with aloha and understanding

BUILD PARTNRESHIPS AROUND COMMON GOALS - People work well together when they share a common goal. We look for points of alignment between and among partners so we are involved in mutually beneficial activities for student success. We help define goals and facilitate honest conversations to help us all move forward.