In Hawaiʻi, kūpuna (older adults) are among the most valued members of our society. Even the word kūpuna, by definition, denotes someone who is wise and highly respected, a keeper of knowledge and a living treasure of our community.
We envision all generations in Hawaiʻi thriving in a vibrant, age-empowered society that maximizes health, independence, and engagement of kūpuna.
The Kūpuna Collective brings together a collaborative network of partners who elevate critical issues, mobilize community assets, and drive innovative solutions that support and empower kūpuna.
The Kūpuna Collective is co-coordinated by HIPHI and the UH Center on Aging.
A coalition of nonprofits and foundations sprang into action to help elders in Hawaii
The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older adults in Hawaiʻi mirrors the situation in the rest of the nation. “During this virus, I ran out of money for food. The Salvation Army came to my rescue. They gave me a food box that tasted so good. They called and followed up with me to see how I am doing and if I needed food…Their follow-through was wonderful,” said one older adult who had been helped by the Salvation Army in Honolulu, a valuable service provider in the state’s Kūpuna Food Security Coalition.
Risks to older adults during the pandemic were compounded due to comorbidities and led to the closure of congregate meal sites, increased social isolation, limited support networks and prompted a fear of shopping at the grocery store.
In combination, these changes resulted in immediate and urgent food needs for older adults. The response, however, was uncommon. Hawaiʻi, with its large Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations, has a strong cultural and historic tradition of caring for kūpuna (elders). The call to action was clear and the response from service providers and other community-based organizations was quick, given the common cultural respect that our communities have been built upon.
The Elderly Affairs Division (EAD, Honolulu’s Area Agency on Aging) in March 2020 brought together a core team, including AARP Hawaiʻi, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Age-Friendly Honolulu and University of Hawaiʻi Center on Aging (UHCOA). The Kūpuna Food Security Coalition, or KFSC, as it became known, quickly expanded to more than 40 nonprofit, government, private and community organizations, and had a substantial impact on reducing food insecurity among older adults in Honolulu County.
Across the first nine months of its existence, the KFSC delivered 1.2 million meals to kūpuna in need, while providing 30,000 units of wraparound services. This was possible because KFSC members maximized community assets by mobilizing existing resources and leveraging a collective impact approach.
Early on, the KFSC placed a priority on qualitative and quantitative data collection and evaluation to assess its impact. While the University of Hawaiʻi Center on Aging tracked metrics, opportunities and successes at a geographic level, the qualitative impact was also prioritized as stories are critical in growing and sustaining efforts.
The service to kūpuna also created lasting friendships. Our Kūpuna, a nonprofit organization, partnered low-income and vulnerable kūpuna with a volunteer who was screened, vetted, and authorized to shop for groceries using the older adult’s SNAP/EBT account.
For one older adult with chronic illness, who was paired with a family that volunteered to shop for her, an invaluable friendship was formed: “They brought me flowers on Mother’s Day. Since I lost my daughter 12 years ago, that meant a lot. The [volunteers] are wonderful angels,” she said.
The KFSC leveraged diverse funding sources totaling more than $3 million raised through private foundation support (particularly by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Stupski Foundation), hundreds of private donations and federal CARES Act funding. This funding allowed service providers to collaborate and expand their service capacity and strategy as they never had previously.
KFSC helped one long-time meal provider, Hawaiʻi Meals on Wheels (HMOW), adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. KFSC’s network of providers worked together to handle the increased demand for meals, which allowed HMOW to maintain continuity of services for existing clients, while expanding services to accommodate hundreds of additional requests. Also, HMOW and St. Francis Healthcare System, another KFSC member, formed a partnership to provide complex clients with an assessment and ongoing wellness checks by a social worker.
The Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI), a nonprofit with more than 20 years’ experience in cultivating programs and leading coalitions, served as a highly effective backbone organization. It provided fiscal intermediary services and convened weekly meetings on a virtual conferencing platform to allow members to share best practices, discuss key initiatives, and determine how to best work together.
These strategies and successes have been shared throughout the aging network in Hawaiʻi. In particular, the Kūpuna Vaccination Outreach Group (KVOG) was modeled on the KFSC approach, which saw a huge success in contributing to 100.0% of older adults being fully vaccinated in Hawaiʻi. These efforts evolved and expanded to form the Kūpuna Collective.
The Kūpuna Collective envisions a permanent shift in the way the aging network comes together through cross-sector partnerships to leverage funds and respond nimbly to critical issues and needs facing our kūpuna. It applies and sustains the key features from KFSC that enabled widespread collective impact: a strong backbone organization, working across service silos, leveraging diverse funding sources, and using program analytics. The Collective expanded beyond food security to address intersecting social drivers of health, in recognition that many issues of aging are inherently linked and impact older adults’ overall ability to remain healthy and live independently.
A three-legged stool of key players in the aging network continue to co-coordinate this large and diverse network of aging service providers, advocates, government agencies, academia and other community-based organizations. Backbone infrastructure is provided by HIPHI; the EAD, with counterparts in all counties statewide, brings expertise in delivering home- and community-based services; and finally, the UHCOA brings subject matter expertise and program analytics to support initiatives.
These co-coordinators provide support to member organizations so that the Collective can respond to crises and become a force in driving innovative solutions that support and empower kūpuna in Hawai‘i.
Access to Independence
Adult Protective and Community Services
Adventist Health Castle Hospital
Aloha Pacific FCU
Aloha United Way
ALU LIKE, Inc.
Alzheimer’s Association – Hawaiʻi
Better Business Bureau Great West + Pacific
Blue Zones Project – Hawaiʻi
City & County of Honolulu, Elderly Affairs Division
City & County of Honolulu, WorkHawaiʻi Division
Catholic Charities Hawaiʻi
CERENE – Center for Resilient Neighborhoods
Child and Family Service
Chaminade University, School of Nursing and Health Professions
Dr. Agnes Kalanihoʻokaha Cope Center for Traditional Native Hawaiian Healing
ʻElepaio Social Services
Get Fit Kauaʻi
Gimme A Break
Hā Kūpuna National Resource Center for Hawaiian Elders
Hale Hauʻoli Hawaiʻi
Hawaiʻi County Office on Aging
Hawaiʻi Family Caregiver Coalition
Hawaiʻi Meals on Wheels
Hawaiʻi Pacific Gerontological Society
Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute
Hawaiʻi State Department of Health – Bilingual Health Aide Section
Hawaiʻi State Department of Health – Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division
Hawaiʻi State Department of Health – Executive Office on Aging
Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaiʻi
Hoʻokele Care at Home
Hoʻōla Veteran Services/Hoʻōla Farms & Hawaiʻi Farm to Car
Honolulu Commission on the Status of Women
Honolulu Community Action Program, Inc.
Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili
Kalele Health Services
Kapiʻolani Community College – Service & Sustainability Learning Program
Kauaʻi County Office on Aging
Keck School of Medicine of USC – Department of Family Medicine
Keiki to Kupuna Foundation
Kosrae Kona Fellowship
Kula no na Poʻe Hawaiʻi o Papakōlea, Kewalo, Kalawahine
Kupuna Care Hawaiʻi
Lanakila Meals on Wheels
Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi
Life 360 Network, Inc.
Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke
Maluhia Adult Day Health Services
Maui County on Aging
Maui Nui Food Alliance
Mōʻiliʻili Senior Center
Nā Hoaloha – Maui Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers
ʻOhana Pacific Health/Hale Makua
Pacific Gateway Center
Pacific Gateway Center – Nā Kūpuna Makamae Center
Pālolo Chinese Home
Papa Ola Lōkahi
Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs
Project Vision Hawaiʻi & Hawaiian Eye Foundation
Queen’s Medical Center
Rabbit Advisors LLC
St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaiʻi
The Pantry by Feeding Hawaiʻi Together
University of Hawaiʻi – Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
University of Hawaiʻi – Hawaiʻi Healthy Aging Partnership
University of Hawaiʻi – Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health
Thrive for Life, LLC
Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center
Waikīkī Community Center
West Hawaiʻi Community Health Clinic
YMCA of Honolulu
*Membership also includes advocates, retirees, and other individuals not represented by an organization.
Christy Nishita, PhD (she/her)
Christy is a Gerontologist and the Director of the Center on Aging at the University of Hawaiʻi and Mānoa.
Lindsey Ilagan, MS (she/her)
Lindsey is the Kūpuna Program Manager at HIPHI. Working in service of the Collective provides Lindsey the opportunity to combine her interest in working alongside community partners to address social drivers of health inequity among minoritized groups with her life experience as a caregiver for her grandparents.
Jenny Lee, PhD (she/her)
Head of Program Analytics
Jenny is an Assistant Researcher at the Center on Aging at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her work focuses on addressing health inequities for older adults.
Derrick Ariyoshi (he/him)
Derrick is the County Executive at the City & County of Honolulu Elderly Affairs Division. He is responsible for planning, coordination, advocacy, and program development for older adults and those with disabilities.
Kiara Bacasen, MS (she/her/any)
Special Projects Coordinator VISTA
Kiara is an AmeriCorps VISTA member offering a wide range of support for the Kūpuna Collective as it grows to address critical issues for older adults in Hawaiʻi.
- News: How Pandemic Desperation Inspired An Elderly ʻInnovation Incubatorʻ in Hawaiʻi. Civil Beat (April 28, 2023).
- News: Center on Aging, Tokyo Institute of Technology explore tech for older adults. University of Hawaiʻi News (March 2, 2023).
- Magazine: Kūpuna Collective Meets with Sen. Hirono. Generations Magazine (Jan-Feb 2023).
- News: Pandemic, future help focus of Kūpuna Collective, Sen. Hirono. University of Hawaiʻi News (October 27, 2022).
- News: Hirono attends discussion on kupuna issues. The Garden Island (October 10, 2022).
- Report: Advancing Housing and Health Equity for Older Adults: Pandemic Innovations and Policy Ideas. The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies & the Hastings Center (October 6, 2022).
- News: More than 100,000 residents could qualify for Affordable Connectivity Program. Office of the Governor (August 8, 2022).
- Article: Reducing Food Insecurity in Hawaiʻi Leads to the Kūpuna Collective. Generations Today (May-June 2022).
- Publication: Aging & Disability Issues 2022: A Guide for Hawaiʻi’s Legislators, Organizations & Citizens.
Hawaiʻi Family Caregiver Coalition (April 2022).
- Webinar: Improving Community Health During the Pandemic and Beyond.
Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (4/6/2022).
- News: Kūpuna Collective fosters collaboration, innovation for aging impact.
University of Hawaiʻi (4/1/2022).