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Kūpuna Collective Partners Gather Around A Table.

The Kūpuna Collective: An age-friendly incubator for innovation

In Hawaiʻi, kūpuna are our most valued members of society. Even the word kupuna, by definition, denotes someone wise and highly respected, a keeper of knowledge and a living treasure of our community. The Kūpuna Collective, led by HIPHI and Age-Friendly Honolulu, aims to present an integrated, collective voice of partners who have the shared calling of honoring our kūpuna through building age-friendly communities.

The Kūpuna Collective aims to:

  • Encourage innovation by magnifying community-level knowledge and expertise; support kūpuna initiatives from the ground up;
  • Advocate for and with kūpuna; amplify the voice of underrepresented communities;
  • Gather data for surveillance, evaluation, and to demonstrate collective impact;
  • Provide technical assistance and the backbone infrastructure to absorb tasks that would otherwise burden community-led initiatives, including fiscal management, administrative support, applying for and managing grants, and creating reports;
  • Increase the visibility of Kūpuna Collective partners; create products (e.g., toolkits, issue briefs, articles); and
  • Scale innovation for sustainable change that lasts.

The Kūpuna Collective formed naturally out of the successes of the Kūpuna Food Security Coalition, Kūpuna Vaccination Outreach Group, and Age-Friendly Honolulu in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its devastating effects on our kūpuna.  Through this experience, the group saw the benefits of strategic partnerships across organizations and sectors and the importance of tracking collective impact. The group also found opportunities to work better together to address multiple drivers of health inequity through a healthy aging lens, proving fruitful in times of COVID-19 and beyond.The Kūpuna Collective is still in its early stages of development. However, innovative practices and promising outcomes highlight the benefits of having a strong backbone infrastructure to support partners in their age-friendly work. Early successes include the following: 

  • Training opportunities to secure funding and contributions to program sustainability;
  • Improved coordination of cross-sector efforts to define and address kūpuna needs;
  • Multi-pronged approaches to bolster our communities’ capacity to support aging in place and the overall health and wellbeing of our kūpuna. 

For more information on the Kūpuna Collective, contact Lindsey Ilagan ( or Christy Nishita (

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