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Creating Lifelong Service Careers

By John Leong, executive director, Kupu

Learn, Serve, Restore. That is the focus of Kupu. Kupu provides service-learning programs in Hawaii’s green jobs. These programs are a catalyst to support more than 80 partner sites throughout Hawaii and the Pacific Basin, serving industries that include conservation, renewable energy, agriculture and sustainability.


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John Leong, executive director, Kupu.

Kupu’s programs, like the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, engage hundreds of young adults in paid summer through year-round service positions annually. Most importantly, Kupu is helping to develop the next generation of leaders by producing young adults who have the experience, knowledge, passion and character necessary to build a more sustainable future. Kupu has created a green job pathway to engage more young adults in careers that will benefit Hawaii and help retain more talent in the Islands.

That future is taking shape through the launch of the Ho’ahu capital campaign for the Kupu Green Job Training Center, a $2.75 million project to redevelop the existing Net Shed structure at Kewalo Basin to create a “piko,” or center of Oahu, with the first-of-its-kind facility for creating leadership in the growing green jobs sector, one of the fastest growing sectors of the Hawaii economy.

Once a place of crime, drugs and homelessness, the property is starting to be restored back to life through Kupu’s work to improve the area and provide youth training and leadership opportunities based out of its facility. The new center itself will represent a source of sustainability, with photovoltaic energy panels, aquaponics for food production, LEED-certified con struction, waterfront preservation and micro-enterprise entrepreneurship. It will be a model for economic self-sufficiency, a community for interaction, cooperation, and living and breathing aloha.

Kupu programs serve many under-resourced youths who would not have job skills or a career path without the environmental conservation training and education stipends that Kupu provides. Kupu has served more than 2,000 youths, engaged 17,000 volunteers and provided more than $7 million benefit to Hawaii through its programs annually.

Kupu is predicated on the Hawaiian concept of maka hana ka ‘ike, “in working one learns.” We invite the community to join with us to create a thriving, sustainable future for our youths and for our state. For more information, visit kupuhawaii.org.

Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement in the print edition to dchapman@midweek.com.