Originally shared on Hawaii News Now by Lynn Kawano on Oct. 12 2022, click here to read.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A group of nonprofit agencies at the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center will be getting a hefty infusion of cash over the next eight years.
The program, managed by Partners in Development, is designed to end youth incarceration, was one of five big winners of grant money from the Kellogg Foundation’s global challenge for racial equality.
Dozens of other organizations from around the world entered.
Kawailoa, a 500-acre Kailua property, is home to multiple service agencies surrounding the juvenile correctional center.
One nonprofit group on site provides jobs on the farm where local crops are grown using native Hawaiian techniques.
Another group, the Residential Youth Services and Empowerment, better known as RYSE, provides a shelter for the homeless.
Other agencies teach money management and job skills.
Hale Kipa provides counseling and other assistance for victims of trafficking and sex assault.
The education center helps young adults get their high school diploma equivalent.
“A lot of youth didn’t finish high school, and that’s really crucial for them to get good employment to survive in Hawaii,” said Audrey Duque, an education and employment counselor at RYSE.
All of these services are part of Kawailoa.
Gabriel Freitas grew up in foster care, then ended up on the streets of Kakaako. He is now part of the outreach team at RYSE.
Freitas said the best part of the services at Kawailoa, they don’t stop just because a person has had their 18th birthday.
“When I turned 18, I woke up in a tent and it was just another day. Another day of being homeless except I could now be charged as an adult.”
Freitas’ job is to go out into the community at night and make contact with homeless teens, educating them about the services at Kawailoa.
Those who age out of the youth correctional center can also get help from the neighboring buildings to try and keep them from going into the adult jails and prisons.
Currently there are 19 youth offenders at the correctional center.
Carla Houser, executive director of RYSE, said so many end up at the Oahu Community Correctional Center.
“18 to 29-year-olds make 30% of the incarcerated population that’s our next focus,” said Houser.
Partners in Development plans to spend the grant money to offer more programs that practice native Hawaiian methods.
They will also expand the services on campus and work on outreach in jails.
The award money is expected to start being distributed in January.