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ʻOAKA: ʻŌpio Alliance for Kuleana Advancement

Amplifying youth leadership through civic engagement

The Issue

ʻOAKA aims to address the opportunity gap that exists for many Hawaiʻi Island youth that hinder employment mobility, reduce civic engagement, and deepen inequity. ʻOAKA offers experiences that empower Hawaiʻi Island youth to embrace their kuleana, unlock their potential, and lead with aloha, turning today's ʻōpio into tomorrow's alakaʻi.

The Strategy

ʻOaka means to open, sprout, and flash. It signifies new beginnings; an upheaval of energetic motion like that of lightning. ʻOAKA is also an acronym for ʻŌpio Alliance for Kuleana Advancement.

ʻOAKA is 100% designed for youth and led by youth ages 15-24 to ensure equitable opportunities for youth to develop a strong work ethic, build capacity as civic change agents through mentorship, and gain employability skills through application of knowledge in community based, real world environments.


Collectively, ʻOAKA’s Core Team represents all districts of Hawaiʻi Island, with a majority of youth representing rural, Native Hawaiian communities.

Youth Summits

ʻOAKA Youth Summits were held islandwide beginning in August 2022 and ending in October. Summits aimed to increase a sense of belonging for youth ages 15-22 by providing opportunities to network, identify youth's personal skills and strengths, and explore opportunities to contribute to community resilience.

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Vibrant Hawaiʻi Ambassadors

The Vibrant Hawaiʻi Ambassador is a 6-12 month paid  internship program intended for opportunity youth and gap year graduates who are passionate about Hawaiʻi Island and aim to develop skills that will aid their careers in public service, social services, and organizational leadership. The program's objective is to provide hands-on experience in community work, expand one's comfort zone, develop courage, character and leadership skills through dynamic and complex conditions. View the full job description.


To apply, email your resume and cover letter to

(Include 1 personal and 1 professional reference).

The Best and The Brightest

Written by Hawaiʻi Island youth, this article addresses the perception that Hawaiʻi's brightest individuals are leaving the state and explores its impact on the youth who choose to stay or return. It highlights personal stories of individuals who found valuable opportunities for education and career development in Hawaiʻi. The article emphasizes the importance of reframing the narrative, supporting those who stay or return, and redefining success to strengthen their commitment to their Island home. Click here to read the article.

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