Established in 2007 as a Honolulu-based 501(c)3 non-profit, Kupu empowers future generations to create a more sustainable, pono Hawai‘i. The organization provides hands-on training programs that educate and mentor youth to become stewards of our culture and environment, helping them develop a strong connection to the place in which we live. Since 2007, Kupu has risen to meet the increasing demands of the green economy by training over 3,000 youth in the areas of conservation, sustainability and environmental education. Kupu affirms the Hawaiian notion of “ma ka hana ka ʻike” or “in working one learns”. This approach has led to the creation of hundreds of internships and service-learning opportunities which blend vocational training and green leadership development to support over 150 partner sites across Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region.
In Hawaiian, the word kupu means to “to sprout, grow” providing the backbone of the non-profit’s efforts to revive the people, land and the sea across Hawaiʻi. Kupu’s work has been likened to the role of the Kupukupu Fern which is one of the first plants to cultivate the land after a lava flow. The fern not only serves as a foundational species for rebuilding a healthy, native ecosystem, but it also symbolizes a place where knowledge can grow. After learning from their experience, this next generation of green leaders enter the workforce with valuable skill sets that positively impact the communities in which they work.