Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Quality Lifetime Opportunities

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One-line solution summary:

Use traditional knowledge & construction skills training to increase access to jobs & to spark entrepreneurship.

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Pitch your solution.

This solution solves the problems of unemployment, under-employment, lack of skills, low wages, lack of affordable housing, homelessness, and lack of control over one's economic future.

I am proposing to teach construction skills to indigenous adults and youth so they have marketable skills and can build their own houses. By learning how to build homes, they will become employable at good wages from $20 to $55 per hour.  They will be able to build their own homes at affordable costs and avoid homelessness for themselves and their families.  We will light a spark in them to go a step further and start their own business in specialty areas such as roofing, doors, plumbing, electrical work, drywall, painting, and forklift and heavy machinery rental and operation.  This will give them financial control over their future.

This solution can positively change lives in the same way if scaled to other communities.

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What specific problem are you solving?

There are several specific problems we are working to solve.

The first is getting at-risk youth and young adults on a good life track.  Within the Native Hawaiian community, idle youth are prevalent.  As many as 25% of students are dropping out of high school and have no direction.  Our solution will help them obtain skills and jobs.

We are also working to solve high homelessness and the lack of affordable housing.  Hawaii has the second highest homelessness rate in the U.S. nation.  We also have the second highest cost of housing, along with one of the lowest rates of pay.  We are in the same category as places like San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle.  By teaching Native Hawaiians how to build houses, they can avoid homelessness and build their own affordable homes.

With their skills, they will be able to earn $20 to $55 an hour working for other companies.  More importantly, they will have the skills to start their own construction companies if they wish.  They can choose specialty fields such as plumbing, electrical, drywall, painting, and structural formation.  We hope to spark an interest in entrepreneurship in them for life-long financial stability.

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What is your solution?

The solution is to provide skills training in a culturally-appropriate environment.  Many Hawaiian values support inter-generational learning and dual responsibility (kuleana) between students and teachers.  We will teach with respect and compassion yet firmness.  We will convey our feelings of value in who they are as people first, then teach hands-on skills.

The specific skills we will focus on are construction skills:  how to lay the foundation of a house, how to build walls, how to build roof trusses and attach them to the walls, how to add the roofing material, and how to install windows, doors, and trims.  In the interior, they will learn how to install electrical and plumbing connections, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and a sink.  Then they will learn how to install flooring and how to paint the interior and exterior.

The process is one or two teachers to four to seven students at a time.  The key is doing it with respect and cultural awareness so students drop their pretension and feel empowered to learn.

For technology, we use basic hand and power tools.  Hand tools include hammers, screw drivers, levels, and squares.  Power tools include a variety of power saws and nail guns.

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Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit?

This solution first benefits the community of Waimanalo, which is on the northern part of the island of Oahu and consists primarily of Native Hawaiians living on Hawaiian Homestead lands.  I have worked in this community for three years.  As a Native Hawaiian, I understand their cultural approaches to life and learning.  They have asked me to stay in Waimanalo and develop a long-term program that can be part of their community in perpetuity.

We have worked together these past three years and will continue to work together.  They provide the land.  I provide the skills training.

This will help to address the community problems of idle youth and young adults, lack of employment, under-employment, lack of job skills, lack of jobs, lack of affordable housing, and lack of life direction.  We will keep them busy on a daily basis with a three-month program to learn high-demand construction skills and obtain a job paying $20 to $55 per hour depending on whether they seek employment with a small company or a large, union construction company.  We will teach them by demonstration the "soft skills" of navigating between the Western world and Native Hawaiian values.

With their skills, they will be able to build their own homes and avoid the conundrum of a lack of affordable housing in Hawaii.  We want to spark an interest in possible entrepreneurship by owning their own companies.  All of this combined is the basis for a productive and personally satisfying life direction.

We can scale this model to other predominantly Native Hawaiian communities such as the Waianae Coast, Papakolea, Kapolei, Hauula, and the neighbor islands.

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Which dimension of the Fellowship does your solution most closely address?

Increase access to jobs, financial capital, and skill development opportunities
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Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Fellowship and your selected dimension.

This solution is well-aligned to the Fellowship by using modern technology and traditional ways of teaching to help Native Hawaiians increase their access to jobs and to develop job skills that will provide opportunities for well-paying salaries and business ownership.  This will increase their financial capital and ongoing opportunities for financial stability.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Waimānalo, HI, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
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Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Mona Bernardino

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Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Native Hawaiian

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Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?

Yes, as a worker (not resident). I have been asked to stay in the community.

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process
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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Our solution is different than our competitors' in that it includes Native Hawaiian values and cultural approaches.  Many Native Hawaiian youth and young adults are "turned off" by the way teaching occurs in modern schools and on-the-job training.  Thus, they end up dropping out and quitting.  Because they cannot find an environment in which they feel comfortable, they roam and are idle.  This leads to more opportunity to get involved in drugs, stealing, and other illegal activity.  For girls, it can lead to sexual exploitation because they need a means of survival.

Our competitors are the State education system and construction companies.  Both of them do not know how to treat or teach Native Hawaiian at-risk youth and young adults.  The construction industry is abusive unless one is related to the owners.  Then it becomes an issue of favoritism.  Native Hawaiians do not do well in those kinds of environments.  They do not know how to meld their cultural values with the realities of the educational system and construction workforce.  The construction industry is important to this because it is one of the few fields where one can earn a livable wage without a college degree.

Our cultural approach of compassion yet firmness is what makes our approach unique.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our technology is use of construction tools, both power tools and hand tools.  The hand tools are traditional tools in use since the 1800s.  The power tools have largely been available since the 1950s but are constantly improving.  For foundation laying, we use scanners and digital sensors to ensure the foundation is even.

Our business model and process relies on this technology to succeed because it is the most efficient way to build houses quickly.  Our clients will need to understand these technologies in order to succeed as employees with construction companies or comply with government regulations as entrepreneur builders.

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Provide evidence that this technology works.

We know this technology works as it is how homes are built throughout the U.S. today.  It is strong, reliable technology that builds homes that can stand up to most weather and disastrous conditions such as floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis that are frequent in Hawaii.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Imaging and Sensor Technology
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What is your theory of change?

We know this approach brings about change because we have seen cultural approaches to learning work in other fields within the Native Hawaiian community.  For example, it works in teaching the Hawaiian language, in teaching fishing and hunting techniques, and in applying preservation and conservation methods to forests and oceans.

We will apply the same teaching style to something as basic as building wooden homes that can withstand contemporary government requirements.

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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 3. Good Health and Well-Being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 15. Life on Land
  • 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Current number served:  200

Serving in one year:  500

Serving in five years:  50,000

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

My impact goal is to continuing working within the Native Hawaiian community and bringing job skills and opportunities.  As a program works in one community, we will take it to other Native Hawaiian communities.

As a result of our work in Waimanalo, we have already been asked to help set up similar projects on the Waianae Coast, in Hauula, Kapolei and on the neighbor islands.  These are communities that are predominantly Native Hawaiian.

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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

The biggest barrier is seed money to continue the program.  The program requires funding for construction teachers and student stipends.  

Once we get a program running successfully, it can be self-sustaining by building homes for a fee to others who can afford it.

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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

To overcome the barrier of funding, we will constantly seek partnerships and grants or pay-for-service contracts.

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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
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How many people work on your solution team?

All volunteers.  Part-time construction teachers and myself.

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How many years have you worked on your solution?

Since 2003 (17 years).

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Because we understand the Hawaiian community and have great passion for implementing solutions to problems.

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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

State department of education, Carpenter's Union, small company employers who offer internships and job shadowing opportunities.

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Solution Team

 
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