Leadership Development and Non-Partisan Candidate Training

Spring 2017 Kuleana Academy Graduations with HAPA Board President Gary Hooser and Program Manager Aria Castillo.

Spring 2017 Kuleana Academy Graduations with HAPA Board President Gary Hooser and Program Manager Aria Castillo.

Mahalo to the Atherton Family Foundation for their support of Kuleana Academy!

Program Description:

The Kuleana Academy is a four-month leadership development and non-partisan candidate training program hosted by the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) in partnership with other leading public interest organizations in Hawai‘i.
The core of HAPA’s mission is to catalyze community empowerment and systemic change - change that goes to the root of our social, economic and environmental injustices. In order to fulfill that mission, HAPA believes that Hawai‘i needs more progressive government leaders who value ʻāina (environment or "that which feeds") and people ahead of corporate profit.
The Kuleana Academy is designed to educate and train grassroots leaders who have a desire to serve in public office, as community organizers, or on Hawai`i's Boards and Commissions. The program provides participants a well-rounded introduction to critical social, economic and environmental issues in Hawai‘i, as well as in-depth leadership development training and the ins-and-outs of campaigning.  

Kuleana Academy is dynamic and collaborative. It builds the capacity of emerging leaders who have a strong desire to effectively serve the public. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about different views and build a strong but diverse network with some of Hawai’i’s brightest leaders. This program will drive positive change in Hawai’i.
— Sandra (Kau‘i) Pratt-Aquino, Esq, Kuleana Academy Spring 2017 Participant

Three Part Program

Leadership and Campaign Skills Training

Participants will attend six (6) weekend trainings on O‘ahu in leadership and personal development, public speaking, and media training. They will also learn critical community organizing skills, the basics of the legislative process and Boards and Commissions, as well as campaigning skills.  Transportation and accommodation costs will be provided by the Academy.

The Kuleana Academy will also host a series of campaign skills training sessions for participants on each participant's home island.

Progressive Statewide Issues Education

Alliance Education Partners will host these sessions in their areas of expertise on issues that affect county, state and federal government. Topics may include: Hawaiian cultural values; environment, sustainability and development; labor, workers' rights and economic justice; agriculture and food security; civil rights and equality.

Community-Based Hands-On Experience

Participants may have the opportunity to engage in community service projects, mentorship programs with HAPA and Alliance Education Partners while gaining real world experience in public speaking, writing, campaigning and fundraising. 

I have made life-long friends and family during my Kuleana Academy experience! Hawaii’s leaders are sworn to its Constitution and to sit below the great seal and motto, ‘Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono’! The Kuleana Academy teaches the ‘Pono’ way!
— Shane Sinenci, Kuleana Academy Spring 2017 Participant

HAPA Kuleana Application Process: 

The Fall 2019 Application will open on February 15th.

Participants will be evaluated and selected via a process that includes a panel made of HAPA Board Members and Kuleana Academy Alliance Education Partners.  There is a minimum goal of identifying, recruiting and training 3 emerging leaders from each county: Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Hawai‘i. 

In order to open this opportunity for all, HAPA covers travel and participation costs for those accepted into the program.

Kuleana Academy Alliance Education Partners presently include: AF3IRM Hawai‘i,  Community Alliance on Prisons,  Hawaiʻi Americans For Democratic Action, Hawaiʻi AppleseedHawai‘i Center for Food Safety, Hawaiʻi People's FundHawaiʻi SEED,  Hawaiʻi's Thousand FriendsKAHEA, Life of the Land, Maui Tomorrow, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai`i and UNITE HERE! Local 5.  Partners offer support to program in a variety of ways, including education materials, speakers, mentorship, and program resources. 

HAPA's Kuleana Academy is not an electoral activity; it is a non-partisan educational program. HAPA and Kuleana Academy will not:

  • endorse any political candidates for public office.

  • make any campaign contributions (monetary or in-kind).

  • ask candidates to sign pledges on any issues.

For questions, email Kuleana Academy Program Manager Aria Juliet Castillo at ariajuliet@hapahi.org.

The Kuleana Academy is funded via the generous grassroots support of residents through-out Hawaiʻi and trusts and foundations interested in developing new leadership in Hawaiʻi.