Kohala youth leadership program to nurture future leaders

NORTH KOHALA — A new leadership development program is launching exclusively for Hawaii Island high school juniors that features mentors, place-based learning and a capstone project to benefit the community.

Called GRACE Leadership Journey, it is run by Kohala Institute, a nonprofit organization that manages the 2,400-acre ahupuaa of Iole in North Kohala. This first-of-its-kind program has a 12-month curriculum of immersive retreats in the renovated historic Kohala Girls School. It was developed with the assistance of the Omidyar Fellows Program.

Kohala Institute is seeking applications from students who will be in eleventh grade this fall. They will select a cohort of 15 students from across Hawaii Island to foster stronger relationships among future leaders from different communities.

The deadline to apply is this Friday.

“Creating a better world starts with inspiring and empowering students to become the community and business leaders of tomorrow,” said Noe Kalipi, executive director of Kohala Institute. “GRACE Leadership Journey is the brainchild of a collaboration between Kohala Institute and the Hawaii Leadership Forum and its Omidyar Fellows program to cultivate young local emerging leaders and equip them with the skills and relationships to transform Hawaii’s future. Our program adapts elements from the Omidyar Fellows program for professionals to provide an extraordinary learning opportunity of self-reflection and personal growth. We’re excited to be able to offer a program of this caliber for high school students on Hawaii island who dream of leading positive change for our community and our world.”

The acronym “GRACE” in the program name comes from Kohala Institute’s core values of gratitude, respect, accountability, courage and engagement. The Leadership Journey curriculum combines elements of leadership training with an indepth application of Kohala Institute’s signature program, Collaboration For Solutions, an approach to resolve conflicts and enable collaborative problem solving among participants with different perspectives on a given issue.

Students in the GRACE Leadership Journey cohort will learn about the interpersonal skills and problem-solving techniques that form the basis of the CFS methodology. Through shared tasks and experiences in Kohala Institute’s Iole ahupuaa, such as clearing a trail, working in a loi kalo (taro patch) or planting and harvesting vegetables, students will learn about the importance of building relationships and working together.

“Too often students from different geographic areas and schools are not provided the opportunity to get to know each other outside of athletic or academic competitions. Misperceptions and judgments can carry over to adulthood. GRACE Leadership Journey seeks to build stronger relationships now between our community’s future leaders,” said Mary Correa, a member of the Kohala Institute Advisory Committee on Programs.

Academic sessions include leadership training as well as skills and techniques focused on interpersonal communications, problem-solving and critical thinking. Practical application of these skills are an important feature of the program. Students “learn by doing”, particularly when engaging in facilitated discussions about complex and emotional challenges facing our island communities. “In today’s complex and dynamic world, it is more critical than ever that we cultivate leaders who are not only able to think critically about issues, but who can bring people together,” said Correa.

Kohala Institute will select and announce the 15-student cohort for the 2017-2018 GRACE Leadership Journey later this month. The program will kick off with an immersive one-week retreat in July, followed by monthly sessions at Kohala Institute’s GRACE Center.

Tuition for GRACE Leadership Journey is $200. Scholarships are available through the generosity of Kohala Institute’s funders and supporters including Atherton Family Foundation, County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and Hawaii Leadership Forum.

For more information or to apply, visit kohalainstitute.org/grace-leadership-journey

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