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.
“The best and the brightest of your young people are leaving.”
“The brain drain.”
“There is no qualified workforce.”
Vibrant Hawaiʻi is committed to ending this deficit, false narrative.
The youth of ʻOAKA were asked how they have felt hearing these words spoken around and about them, and they shared:
“I felt like I was not seen as the best or the brightest because I stayed.”
“I felt ashamed that I didn’t leave, like I wasn’t as good as my peers who went away.”
“I felt challenged to prove that I was just as valuable.”
ʻOAKA’s Core Team truly represents the best and brightest of Hawaiʻi Island - and they are here. They have actively invested in their personal and professional development, leadership growth, and kuleana advancement. Their actions align to the Guiding Principles of Vibrant Hawaiʻi: equity and belonging, aloha, ʻauamo kuleana, and flexibility and learning that leads to transformation.
ʻOAKA’s unique contribution to the landscape of youth development opportunities on Hawaiʻi Island is simply this: there is no other islandwide network led by youth - for youth.