Innovative program for at-risk youth in the running for competitive $20M grant
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu program that helps at-risk youth and young adults could soon be getting millions of dollars in funding and worldwide recognition.
Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center was one of 1,453 non-profit applicants from 72 countries vying for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 challenge.
The center made the final cut, ending up in the top 10.
The winners will be decided soon with the top three each receiving $20 million.
The next group are awarded $10 million each.
Mark Patterson is the administrator of the Kawailoa center, which is located on the property of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. He said the center replaces punitive techniques with alternative teaching methods, in particular Native Hawaiian practices that the kids use to tend to the 500-acre farm.
There are about 100 head of cattle.
The kids also take care of ulu, bananas, taro, mangos are among the produce.
The beef feeds the people at the facility. Workers also care for chickens.
During COVID-19, the goods were donated to the community food drives. In addition to the farm, other programs on site help the kids further the education and offer vocational training.
Kawailoa is not just for those sentenced.
The property has a shelter for the homeless and provides a safe place for trafficking victims.
“Creating our concept of what a puuhonua, a sanctuary, would look like for our most vulnerable children and their families,” Patterson said.
While the winners will be chosen by the end of the month for the grant awards, the announcement isn’t expected to be public until fall.
The funds will be distributed over the course of several years. Patterson said the money would allow Kawailoa to expand programs and add mental health services.
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