2023 Indigenous Communities Fellowship


Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Providing work-based learning opportunities to the youth of Hana through a service-oriented education continuum to strengthen environmental stewardship, cultural identity, intergenerational relationships, and technical skills.

Team Lead

Lipoa Kahaleuahi

Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke Building Program

What is the name of your solution?

Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Providing meaningful work-based learning opportunities to Native Hawaiian youth in East Maui through a service-oriented education continuum to strengthen environmental stewardship, cultural identity, intergenerational relationships, and technical skills.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Hāna is among Hawai'i's most remote and underserved regions; the nearest urban facilities are a 4-hour round trip drive. Our community comprises 394 households, and over 71% of residents are Native Hawaiian (US Census 2020). Hāna's remoteness and lack of economic opportunity have created a distressed demographic environment in which:

  • The overall poverty rate is 22%, and upwards of 42% for Native Hawaiians

  • The median household income is $44,059 versus the Maui County median household income of $84,363

  • The 5-year unemployment rate was 12.2% versus the state average of 4.1%

  • From 2016-2020, only 14.5% of Hāna residents had acquired at least a bachelor's degree compared to the state's average of 21.9% (US Census ACS, DP02, 2020)

  • 63.5% of renters spend more than 35% of their income on rent, compared with 45.5% statewide (US Census, ACS DP04, 2020).

Due largely to its remote location, Hāna High and Elementary School offers the lowest percentage of licensed teachers in Hawai’i (DOE Databook, 2021). Not surprisingly, our youth’s standardized test scores fall well below state averages in all academic areas (id). Multiple risk factors, including poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, substandard living conditions, health issues, or incarceration, challenge 75% of Native Hawaiians raised in Hāna. Some risk factors impact youth directly, while others affect a family member, thus impacting the entire family. 

Following high school graduation, over 70% of Native Hawaiian youth stay in Hāna, with most citing the desire to live the country and subsistence lifestyle for which Hāna is famous. Graduates that remain face a competitive local job market due to limited job opportunities, competition with newly relocated wealthy landowners with much greater access to capital, and transient farm workers. Furthermore, the rising cost of living further exacerbates the low earning potential among Hāna youth. 

In 2016, Hāna School started a Hawaiian language immersion program called Kula Kaiapuni O Hāna. In the current school year (2022-2023), 58% of K-6 students are enrolled in Hawaiian language medium instruction. In 2024, the current 6th-grade class will enter our middle school “garden to table” class. By 2025, ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) speaking students will enter High School. To meet the Hāna School population's applied learning needs, we anticipate offering each Career and Technical Education (CTE) class we steward (Culinary, Agriculture, and Building and Construction) in English and Hawaiian. 

Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi seeks to drive positive outcomes for Native Hawaiian K-12 students and recent graduates through culturally grounded educational opportunities. We seek to further our solution by providing vocational skills training and service-based learning to Hāna youth through Hawaiian Language educational assets focused on CTE/vocational skills training for middle and high school students and redesigning our paid apprenticeship program to be offered in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi.

What is your solution?

Through interviews, focus groups, as well as a 2019-2022 USDA-funded research grant, we identified that many of our community’s higher-wage labor jobs ($30/hr+) are in the carpentry and construction-related fields, culinary food services, agroforestry, and the production of value-added agricultural products. Our solution aims to disband historical cycles of trauma perpetuated by housing, educational and occupational disparities by engaging youth in culturally adapted vocational training programs that will stimulate career opportunities and raise household income while providing resources to the community at no cost. 

We will accomplish this by providing Hāna’s at-risk and predominantly Native Hawaiian youth with a way to learn that makes sense to them, builds their self-esteem, and shows them they have the power to change their future. Our programs are guided by the traditional approach known as “ma ka hana ka ʻike,” in working or doing, one learns. Our methodology comprises a service-oriented education continuum that engages indigenous knowledge to provide hands-on learning opportunities that strengthen vocational skills, environmental stewardship, intergenerational relationships, and cultural identity. This solution seeks to expand our vocational training programs further to engage students and apprentices in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. This initiative arose from anticipation for the incoming generation of native language speakers and the unending desire to uplift and perpetuate ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in our community.

We provide supplemental teacher support to Hāna School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, during and after-school cultural activities for K-12, and paid after-school and intercession employment to high schoolers. Additionally, we engage recent graduates in apprenticeships to further hone their skills in preparation for the vocational trades. Our organization began as a partnership with Hāna School in 2001, offering supplemental teacher support through building and construction classes and on-the-job training for students struggling with the classroom setting. In 2010, we expanded to create Mahele Farm, our 10-acre regenerative, apprentice-led community farm, which now hosts K-12 field trips, over 120 community volunteers, and unites indigenous and modern farming techniques to produce more than 25,000 pounds of food annually. Our cultural program, Mālama Haloa, now in its eighth year, reconnects youth with the ancestral knowledge of Hawaiian cloth making, games, ceremonies, and growing and preparing kalo (taro). Over the years, Mālama Hāloa has restored and maintained over 30 traditional loʻi kalo (wetland taro patches) in East Maui. Now in its second year, our culinary program Kahu ʻAi Pono teaches dry-land garden and orchard production, kitchen safety, proper food handling, and cooking through a place-based strategy using campus-grown, cultural food staples as the centerpiece. 

The health of Native Hawaiians is inextricably tied to cultural identity. We know that access to traditional foods, land, language, and cultural practices are strong determinants of health and well-being for Native Hawaiians. With this solution, we will design program curricula and train our educators to offer our program activities and paid apprenticeships in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi to imbue a Hawaiian perspective and cultivate a deeper connection to Hawaiian culture for our youth and our community.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We serve the small, remote community of Hāna, Maui (population 2,291), a district spanning 35.5 miles from Ke‘anae to Kaupō. The nearest urban facilities are a 2-hour one-way drive away along a road subject to heavy visitor traffic, landslides, flooding, and collapse. Each year our organization serves no less than 600 participants and beneficiaries across East Maui (74% of whom are Native Hawaiian), including the 384 K-12 students of Hāna School, 78% of whom are Native Hawaiian. Our primary service population is students in grades K-12 and recent graduates of Hāna. Through their applied learning in agriculture, building, and culinary, these youth serve our community, especially our kūpuna (our 65+ grandparent generation).

The remoteness of Hāna, coupled with the general lack of economic opportunity, places many families in nutritionally deficient situations. Dominant food staples in our community include white rice and canned meats. Hāna School qualifies as a CEP school (Community Eligibility Provision), meaning every student qualifies for free lunch. Socioeconomic determinants at home make consuming normal fresh produce difficult for many Hāna youth. Kūpuna face similar access issues and are sometimes further barred from government assistance (such as food stamps) by lack of internet access or aid in applying. 

Our programs' agricultural and cultural components seek to remedy the nutritional deficiencies of our youth and their families. We support a school garden coordinator who, along with her team of apprentices, maintains 15 garden beds in five locations across campus, an aquaponics system, composting system, and a greenhouse. Our school garden coordinator works alongside our culinary instructor (Kahu ʻAi Pono program manager) to develop lesson plans centered on seasonal produce. During these lessons, students learn simple and delicious ways to prepare the foods that grow naturally and abundantly in Hāna. For example, kalo and ʻulu (breadfruit) are plentiful starches in East Maui, but both take time and proper preparation to be made palatable. Our cultural components also facilitate cultural food preparation to meet our community's nutritional and cultural needs. Our during and after school kuʻi (pounding kalo into poi) sessions utilize the ancient practice of preparing kalo for students to take home to their family table. Our apprentice-run farm hosts field trips and provides 130 kūpuna with 52 produce distributions of vegetables, fruits, and kalo each year. 

Hāna does not and has never had an assisted living facility. Our organization's first building projects were home accessibility modifications and tiny homes that, over the years, have helped our elders age gracefully in place. Through this work, we have identified lucrative career opportunities within our community in the vocational trades. Even for those graduates who pursue careers in other fields, we have received numerous anecdotes confirming how their experience in our building program helped them repair their family's roof, fix plumbing issues, or build out the interior of a new food truck. Since our organization’s founding, we have built over 250 community projects, and 50% were designed and built for our kūpuna.

Which Indigenous community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

The same isolation that has led to Hāna’s economic condition makes it a focal point for the retention of Hawaiian heritage. With two Hawaiian language schools and a population that is over 70% Native Hawaiian, our community remains a refuge of traditional lifestyles and cultural values. Our Native Hawaiian youth encounter many protective factors, including: cultural affiliation; a tight, values-based community; support from immediate and extended ‘ohana (family); connection to subsistence skills (e.g., farming, hunting, fishing); and ancestral connections to place. Native Hawaiian youth have access to abundant natural, cultural, and community resources. These protective factors provide a strong foundation for successfully addressing the challenges and limitations they face. 

Our solution provides place-based, culturally relevant solutions to our youth and community's need for economic self-sufficiently and food sovereignty. Our indigenous-led organization strives to meet the housing and nutritional needs of our predominantly Native Hawaiian community through youth-led agricultural, culinary, and building projects. As a result, Hāna residents now rely on our non-profit as a first responder to many of our community issues. We consistently receive requests for housing modifications, food distributions, and community partnerships.  

In the coming years, as we experience greater numbers of Hawaiian language medium students on the Hāna School campus, our team will be positioned to support the use of the language across our programs. Through weekly language lessons for existing staff and new hire requirements for proficiency in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, we will be prepared to instruct our native-speaking generation of youth in the vocational trades.   By accessing places and practices of cultural significance and Hawaiian language application through applied learning opportunities, Native Hawaiian youth will experience indigenous concepts of health that go beyond access to modern medical services or standard education.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our office headquarters and most of our program activities are located on the Hāna School campus, which is both an educational and social hub for Hāna. Our Board of Directors and staff reflect our Native Hawaiian service population. 100% of our board of directors are residents of Hāna, and four of our six board members are Native Hawaiian. Those members who are not lineal descendants of East Maui were either born in Hāna or have resided here the majority of their lives and possess deep ties to the community. 82% of our staff members, including Executive Director, Program Leads, Graduate Teachers, and supporting staff, are Native Hawaiian, and many are life-long Hāna residents and graduates of our education continuum.

Over the years, we have partnered with and visited numerous non-profit partners around Hawai’i, and our organization is well known in many cultural and education circles. Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke was honored to receive a reference in the 2020 publication, “Assessment and Priorities for the Health and Well-Being in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders,” published by the University of Hawaiʻi Department of Native Hawaiian Health, as an example of an organization that seeks to  “(ensure) fair treatment and equitable share of the benefits as well as burdens of society.” 

At the end of each school year, we conduct annual surveys and focus groups designed to illuminate the participant experience, identify emerging needs in the community, and signal where future program offerings may have the most impact. Between 2019 and 2022, we conducted an East Maui Community Food Assessment project in partnership with the USDA to answer the question: "How can we increase and reaffirm food security in Hāna and the greater East Maui?". We examined the feasibility of an East Maui food hub and further investigated the steps to introduce a Garden to Cafeteria plan on the Hāna School campus. We investigated consumer and producer trends through interviews, record analysis, surveys, focus groups, and community-wide gatherings. Data and perspectives were collected from local households, the student body, and Hāna’s mid-tier consumers, including the two small grocers in Hāna and the Hāna High and Elementary School cafeteria. East Maui’s new and established agricultural producers were central to this research, reporting on their outputs, obstacles, and apparent opportunities to improve local agriculture. We also ascertained input from other local agricultural stakeholders, agencies, and nonprofits for this assessment.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Drive positive outcomes for Indigenous learners of any age and context through culturally grounded educational opportunities.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Hāna, Maui

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • United States

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model that is rolled out in one or more communities

How many people does your solution currently serve?


Why are you applying to Solve?

One of the biggest obstacles to our organizational and administrative capacity is our current data management system. We seek assistance from Solve to overcome our technical barriers resulting from a general lack of access to professional data management consultant services. Our organization has grown considerably in the past four years. Although a more comprehensive data management system has been a need for some time, our dedicated staff has been unable to make this transition. We currently track over 900 individuals, including participants and beneficiaries, vocational hours, program outputs, and services provided in an Excel spreadsheet, which is analyzed and published monthly. A more efficient data tracking system, such as Salesforce, would lessen the burden of reporting on all staff ranging from our program leads to grant managers, allowing more time for program activities and partnership building. We welcome partnerships that will advance and enrich our organizational capacity and our youth's cultural and technical skills.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Lipoa Kahaleuahi

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Native Hawaiian

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

Lipoa Kahaleuahi (Executive Director) leads our organization. She is a Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike and Hāna School graduate and Gates Scholarship recipient. Lipoa is Native Hawaiian and was born and raised in Haneoʻo, Hāna. After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees and working as a Hawai'i Island school teacher, Lipoa first served Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke as an Outreach Coordinator, Project Manager, and Deputy Director before being voted in as Executive Director in July 2019. Lipoa is an active member of the Hāna community. She is a surfer and former member of the prestigious Hālau O Nakaulakuhikuhi. She is a founding board member of Ke Ao Hāliʻi (Save The Hāna Coast). Since 2018, Ke Ao Hāliʻi has purchased and placed over 140 acres of culturally and environmentally sensitive coastal lands under conservation in perpetuity. Lipoa also sits on the Hāna Advisory Committee to the Maui Planning Commission. Lipoa possesses deep familial and cultural ties to Hāna. As the ED, she is the primary point of contact between MKHKI and our community partners, funders, and the general public.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

In “Assessment and Priorities for the Health and Well-Being in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (Department of Native Hawaiian Health, 2020),” the authors propose a Hawaiian framework for achieving social and healthy equity. This framework, titled Nā Pou Kihi, refers to the four corner posts of a traditional Hawaiian house and “synthesizes cultural values, health equity research, Indigenous scholarship, and social determinants.” Through our culturally relevant and place-based educational efforts, our organization exemplifies and supports the Ka Wai Ola corner post, most readily translated to “Social Justice.” By teaching students in the “ma ka hana ka ʻike way,” or learning by doing, we help youth learn in a way that makes sense to them, builds their self-esteem, and shows them they have the power to change their future. By building our organization's capacity to instruct youth in the Hawaiian language, we add to the currently limited spaces where youth learn and engage using ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. 

We facilitate peer-led vocational training in a community without competitive trade school options. Our agriculture, culinary, and building programs catalyze broader impacts within our community by creating access to healthy food and housing. Our vocational programs feed our local labor market as our graduates have become the contractors, electricians, mechanics, arborists, plumbers, chefs, and handypersons that serve our community.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Short term, our hands-on learning continuum seeks to foster cultural identity and community connection while allowing youth to learn in a way that makes sense to them. Long term, we wish to see empowered community leaders and reciprocal relationships between our youth, lands, and cultural resources. 

Short term, we seek to increase the Hawaiian language proficiency of our educators. Long term, we plan to offer all program activities and apprenticeships in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi for our incoming generation of Hawaiian-speaking students. 

Short term, we seek to mobilize our vocational program youth to meet the needs of our aging elders through food distributions and home modifications. Long term, we seek partnerships with local non-profits to see more established elderly care services in our community. 

Short term, we seek to engage Hāna youth in paid apprenticeships to further hone their vocational skills in building, agriculture, cultural programming, and culinary arts. Long term, we seek to produce skilled trades workers for our community (contractors, roofers, electricians, plumbers, chefs, and farmers) to increase household incomes and economic well-being among Hāna residents.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We measure program outputs through the number of participants (K-12 students, apprentices, volunteers, kūpuna served), hours of vocational training, number of classes (garden, kuʻi, cultural games and art), pounds of food (vegetables and kalo), number of food deliveries, community work days, and number of building service projects, just to name a few. We compile participant sign-in sheets and class rosters to ensure unduplicated participant numbers. 

At the end of each school year, we conduct surveys for participants and beneficiaries to illuminate the participant experience, identify emerging needs in the community, and signal where future program offerings may have the most impact. Participants reflect on awareness, skill, or knowledge changes due to our programs. In June of each year, we analyze the survey results and disseminate them to program leads for reflection and curriculum planning.

Here are a few of the results from our May 2022 survey:

As a result of our programs...

- 91% of youth reported increased skill in Hawaiian cultural practices

- 88% of apprentices said their work ethic improved

85% of youth reported greater involvement in activities to help their community

- 100% of kūpuna reported an improved sense of well-being and/or quality of life

What is your theory of change?

“The health of the land is the health of the people (Dr. Emmett Noa Aluli, Department of Native Hawaiian Health, 2020).” Our mission is to empower youth to accept the kuleana (responsibility) left by previous generations to steward and protect their ancestral lands. The health of Native Hawaiians is relative to the proximity and accessibility of cultural foods, land, practices, and identity. Our programs provide Hāna youth with the resources to access these dimensions guided by “ma ka hana ka ʻike,” in working or doing, one learns. 

Our staff reflects our service population in ethnicity and lived experience, our community partnerships support traditional food and land access, and our educational materials and tools foster place-based and culturally relevant applied learning activities. Our program activities' agricultural, building, culinary, and cultural components work integratively to improve skill capacity, cultural identity, and community connection. Our apprenticeship model prepares Hāna youth for identified and lucrative trade careers in our community. At the same time, our hands-on activities and youth-led service projects foster an appreciation for learning and build intergenerational relationships.

Our programs support an apprenticeship model comprised of Graduate Teachers, Graduate Apprentices, and Student Apprentices. Each program caters to unique vocational curricula, and this model urges apprentices towards identified career pathways in our community. We engage at least 70 vocational apprentices across our four programs annually, offering 25,000 vocational training hours. During our May 2022 participant survey, 100% of apprentices responded that their “participation in Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke programs expanded (their) knowledge and skills in (their program area).” 

Program Managers, Graduate Teachers, and Graduate Apprentices lead our K-12 grade activities. Our staff provides supplemental teacher support to Hāna School CTE courses guiding youth in garden, culinary, building, and cultural activities. We engage no less than 300 K-12 students each year, and during our May 2022 participant survey, 90% of youth indicated they wished to be involved in our programs the following year. 

Each of our programs supports the well-being of our community with a particular focus on kūpuna. Mālama Hāloa apprentices prepare 3,000 pounds of kalo, and Māhele Farm provides 5,000 pounds of produce each year to 130 kūpuna on a rotating basis, while Kahu ʻAi Pono culinary students supplement these weekly distributions with culinary creations. At the same time, our Building Program responds to the accessibility needs of kūpuna through home accessibility modifications and tiny home builds. In our 2022 May survey, 100% of elders (over 65 years) indicated that their well-being has improved due to our programs. 

We seek to expand our program offerings to engage the incoming generation of Hawaiian language speakers in our activities and apprenticeships. This year, 58% of Hāna’s K-6 student population is enrolled in the Hawaiian language medium. Beginning with weekly staff language lessons, we will prepare our team to welcome the now 6th graders into our CTE courses by 2024.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

At the core of our programs lies the traditional and ancestral knowledge and methods Native Hawaiians utilized for centuries to build advanced food systems, create art, conduct ceremonies, and construct dwellings. We leverage this cultural wisdom to steer the agricultural, culinary, and construction components.

For our agricultural components, this manifests in the restoration and maintenance of ancient loʻi kalo complexes. These tiered wetland taro patches utilize centuries-old irrigation systems and preserve hundreds of varietals of kalo. Furthermore, our Mālama Hāloa program stewards our kuʻi kalo program, revitalizing the traditional practice of preparing kalo by boiling, skinning, and pounding the corm using a stone tool and a wooden board. 

When the opportunity arises, our team of youth builders has risen to the challenge of building traditional Hawaiian hale (Hawaiian dwelling or house). Throughout the year, our team participates in harvesting and milling traditional woods, such as kiawe and koa, and more recent introductions, such as monkeypod and mango. These woods serve as the foundation and finish wood for our home accessibility modifications and kūpuna tiny homes. In addition to these modern creations, our team is skilled in the art of making cultural implements. Throughout the year, we host workshops for the community to make the papa kuʻi ʻai (poi pounding board), pohaku (stone for pounding poi), as well as game and art-making implements. This past year apprentices fashioned game implements for our annual Makahiki ceremony and weeks of game sessions, as well as tools for the 5th-grade Kaiapuni class to make kapa (traditional Hawaiian cloth). 

Our 10-acre regenerative Mahele Farm is located off the grid relying on the sun for power and rain for all our irrigation needs. This considerably reduces our economic and environmental footprint and forces our farmers to find innovative solutions to extensively cloudy days or seasons of drought. We also continue to create all of our inputs, like mulch, compost, and manure, from vegetation that freely grows on the farm and is produced by our flock of chickens.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Materials Science

In which parts of the US and/or Canada do you currently operate?

Maui, Hawaiʻi

In which parts of the US and/or Canada will you be operating within the next year?

Maui, Hawaiʻi

Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

We employ 17 full-time staff and one contractor.

How long have you been working on your solution?

Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke was founded in 2001.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

The equitable principle of inclusion with a particular focus on at-risk youth guides Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike’s educational model. Most Hāna students are economically disadvantaged, and Hāna School qualifies as a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) School where all students receive free lunch. Many students who experience a cultural dissonance between their rural experience and the world portrayed in standard textbooks excel with our approach, which pairs academic instruction with hands-on activities rooted in their culture. 

Our team shares a genuine commitment to supporting at-risk youth and our community at large, which spurs countless acts of generosity toward the most marginalized members of our community. It is common for staff to provide rides for youth to and from work, mentorship following a loss in the family, or an impromptu food delivery when there is a crisis. These personal connections empower our organization to continue making meaningful contributions to meet the real-life needs of Hāna’s vulnerable population.

Our programs work synergistically to raise our underserved community’s capacity to care for itself while providing a much-needed safe space where Hāna residents—old and new, of all ethnicities and walks of life—can come together and achieve collective goals. These sections of our Code of Ethics encapsulate our commitment to:

  • KOKUA [aid those in need]: We are rooted in Hāna and intentional in our contribution to community health through the mālama of our kūpuna, ‘ōpio, keiki, and aloha ‘āina.

  • PILINA [connection]: We harness individual passions to work together and foster unity through inclusive communications and trusting relationships.

The majority of our small staff at MKHKI, including our Executive Director, graduated from our program and Hāna School amidst similar risk factors that exist today. Our staff and participation rates for our programs reflect the Native Hawaiian student body, which we see as a testament to the success of our equitable practices and sensitivity to our local culture and community.

Including and uplifting wāhine (girls and women) is also a purposeful aspect of our work. We involve female leaders and participants in the largely male-dominated building, construction, and farming trades each year. Our Executive Director and four other leaders within our programs are wāhine, and in this way, we ensure an inviting climate for female students. Each time MKHKI considers a new program offering, the potential to engage a broader group of at-risk youth is a primary factor. To increase female participation, we created Wāhine Kai Camp (an ocean-activities summer camp for adolescent girls), administrative apprenticeships, and most recently, our culinary arts program.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

We provide vocational skills training in agriculture, building, culinary and cultural skills to Hāna youth, our primary participants. The beneficiaries of our program include those who receive the fruits of our student's educational pursuits, home modifications, food distributions, and cultural demonstrations. The cost of living in Hāna is well above the national average; high fuel costs (upwards of $7.89/gallon in Hāna), extremely high food prices (a gallon of milk at Hāna Store is $12), as well as the average home price (the median home sale price in Hāna in December 2022 was $2,025,000 [Maui Realtors Association, Jan. 03, 2023 Report]) prevent many families form achieving economic sovereignty in their hometown. Our services provide culturally adapted, hands-on vocational training programs to our community youth while providing resources to the community at no cost.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Over the last 22 years, our organization has built a robust network of funding partners. In addition, we have listened closely to our community and have designed programs that meet evolving and urgent community needs. In our current fiscal year, we have more than 47 different funding streams from community partners ranging from private donors to federal agencies. Our funding sources are a mix of unrestricted private donations, donor-advised funds, government service contracts, and restricted grants from local and national foundations. The key to successfully managing this high number of funding sources is a robust financial management system that helps us identify financial needs and efficiently track financial income and expenditure. This diversified approach has served our organization well, and we look forward to continued partnerships with a number of funders and community partners. In the coming years, we hope to build greater financial security by creating an endowment fund to help add a stream of investment income to support our existing and future strategies.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Our diverse funding partners enable us to sustain and grow our programming. Around 4% of our annual income is earned in relation to program activities and contracts, 6% of our income comes from unrestricted, donor-advised funds or private donations, 51% of our revenue comes from local and national foundations, and 39% of our income comes from local, state and federal agencies. 

In our current fiscal year, we secured a five-year, one million dollar restricted grant from the Stupski Foundaiton, two restricted grants for $190,000 from the Native American Agriculture Fund, $75,000 in restricted funds from the HMSA Foundation, $50,000 from the Nadao & Mieko Yoshinaga Family Fund, $50,000 from the Newman’s Own Foundation, $50,000 in unrestricted funds from the Victoria and Bradley Geist Foundation, $50,000 restricted grant from the Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, $59,363.51 restricted grant from the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute, $40,000 restricted grant from the McInerny Foundation, $30,000 from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation, $35,000 restricted grant from the Atherton Family Foundation, $25,000 restricted grant from the First Nations Development Institute, $25,000 restricted grant from the Healy Foundation, $25,000 restricted grant from the Laura Jane Musser Fund, $20,000 restricted grant from the Agua Fund, $20,000 restricted grant from the Cooke Family Foundation, $20,000 restricted grant from the G.N. Wilcox Trust, $12,000 restricted grant from the Fred Baldwin Memorial Fund, $10,000 unrestricted grant from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation. We also steward numerous smaller grants under $10,000 from another 15 funding partners.

From our government grant making activities, we currently steward $365,000 in restricted grants from the Maui County Office of Economic Development, $220,000 in restricted grants from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, $169,000 in restricted grants from Kamehameha Schools, and $101,750 in restricted grants from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. We have also secured $63,984 in private donations from individual donors and donor-advised funds.

Solution Team

  • Lipoa Kahaleuahi Executive Director, Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke Building Program
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