Three time winner of 100 Best, Honolulu is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest cities and one of the best places to live and retire. In fact, Mercer Consulting recently announced Honolulu as the 31st overall best city in the world to live in and the highest ranking city in the U.S. Honolulu shows its commitment to their youth through partnerships between government, agencies and businesses.
In addition to the community’s main programs including YouthBuild Honolulu, the Honolulu Youth Service Center received $1.1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2009 for a project aimed at helping young parents and expectant parents obtain their high school diploma, get a job or enter college to become self-sufficient. One example of supporting youth leadership is the 21st Century Ahupua'a Youth Ambassadors Program which is open to high school students and part of the 21st Century Ahupua'a, an initiative that pushes Honolulu to become an environmentally friendly and sustainable city. Together, environmentally-conscious students not only learn about what they can do to protect the environment, but also to educate their peers and organize community service opportunities.
The city strongly supports the Keiki (Child) Caucus, which is a partnership of government officials, legislators, and agencies that focus on identifying issues that impact youth and their families and recommending legislation. The city and Keiki Caucus have supported legislation that focuses on areas of need including safety, child welfare, education, and youth leadership. In addition, several organizations like Good Beginnings Alliance work to affect policy and strengthen the rights of young children in Hawaii to ensure safe, happy, healthy lives.
Annually, over 35,000 youth participate in after- school and summer programs, including a food service program that serves healthy lunches to almost 20,000 disadvantaged children. As part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, the parks department provides after-school recreational activities, homework assistance, mentoring, overnight camps, drug free workshops, ROPES courses, and intersession and summer programs. The After School A-Plus Program in partnership with the YMCA brings affordable after- school care to children in public elementary schools whose parents work, attend school or are in job training programs. This helps reduce the high incidence of latchkey children. Annually, the program serves 7,266 youth in 50 program sites.
Although schools are now closed on some Fridays due to budget cuts, youth are utilizing their out of school time on those days to volunteer. Through the City's Youth Service Center, youth have provided numerous volunteer service hours to clean up City parks, restore watersheds and native habitats, and support local nonprofit organizations like the Hawaii Foodbank. One program in particular, the YouthBuild Honolulu program, provides a unique service-learning opportunity for non-high school graduates to acquire skills through building affordable housing. Since 2000, in partnership with Self-Help Housing Corporation of Hawaii and the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, youth have assisted in 150 different projects to build new homes and renovate public rental units for needy Honolulu families.