Kupu, a nonprofit focused on empowering youth to pursue work in sustainable sectors throughout the islands, transformed the typical work setting from concrete jungles to lush forests during the height of coronavirus-related unemployment.
The organization received about $3 million in funding secured by state lawmakers through the CARES Act, creating its first Aina Corps program last year. That opened the door to residents seeking education and training opportunities in conservation, agriculture, technology and green energy.
In October 2020, Kupu used those funds to hire 350 people for less than three months. Despite the narrow timeframe, members of the Kupu Aina Corps managed over 21,000 acres of land across the islands, generating about $6.5 million for Hawaii’s economy, according to Kupu spokesman Kawika Riley.