KUA works with communities who request our help, and invite us to be a part of their hana (work). We bring together partners, tools, and our own professional expertise to support community efforts in the following focus areas:
Community networking: KUA’s strength lies with the relationships and the trust we have established with our community partners. KUA convenes and connects communities through in-person gatherings and convenings. These communities join with others to share what they know, strengthen one another, and contribute to one another’s success.
Natural and sociocultural resources management: For many communities in Hawai’i, improving the future for our environmental heritage means looking to the past. For centuries, Hawaiians have practiced traditional management of land and ocean resources, which in turn sustained the people physically, socially, culturally, and spiritually. Combining effective traditional and contemporary resources management methods, communities are restoring their traditional role as caretakers of the lands and waters of their places.
Youth engagement: In pre-contact Hawai’i, children routinely learned how to hunt, fish, plant, gather, and practice sound resource management from shadowing their elders. Today, elders often work while children sit in classrooms or in front of technology. Many of Hawai’i’s children are losing their connection with the ‘āina (land and sea). Communities cited this as one of the greatest threats to Hawai’i’s natural resources. In response, KUA is working with communities throughout Hawai’i to ensure that young people learn the practices that will nurture the ‘āina and, in turn, their communities.
Community advocacy: KUA envisions communities participating equally in making the decisions that impact their quality of life. KUA informs communities about policy initiatives that may affect their resource management efforts, and we provide communities with access to education and assistance related to community organizing, advocacy, and policy-making processes. We are committed to providing our community partners with relevant, accurate information and do not promote specific positions related to legislative or other political action.
Community-based economic development: KUA believes that communities have the right to define their vision for economic development in their community and participate equally in the economic decisions that affect their livelihoods. We promote a form of economic development that is community-driven, place-based, respectful of cultural and traditional values, and supportive of healthy, sustainable ecosystems. KUA brings together tools, resources, and partnerships to enable community-based organizations to expand economic opportunities and achieve measurable financial and economic benefits in their communities.
Monitoring and evaluating program impacts: Our shared work is effective only if we and communities respond to new information, changing conditions, and lessons learned. At the same time, communities tell us they rarely have the time or patience to work through confusing and cumbersome evaluation systems. So KUA is working directly with communities to develop and use a framework and tools tailor-made for communities to better understand, improve, and tell the story of their impact.
Capacity-building for community-based organizations: Most of KUA’s community partners are small, grassroots, community-based organizations. Many of their efforts begin in response to specific threats, and they galvanize their neighbors to improve community conditions. As they grow to recognize their own ability to affect positive community change, they start thinking about how to sustain a long-term effort. Many communities turn to KUA for help, so we provide or link them to assistance in strategic planning, organizational development, and administrative and fiscal management systems.