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New App Aims to Increase Participation in Democratic Process

February 7, 2019, 11:45 AM HST (Updated February 7, 2019, 11:45 AM)
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Hawai‘i’s first ever civic engagement app, KĀKOU, is putting the power of change in the palm of your hand. KĀKOU, an initiative of Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP), is a unified, digital platform that makes it easy for everyone to engage with Hawai‘i’s elected officials and participate in the democratic process.

KĀKOU

After taking over the publishing of the Hawai‘i Directory of Public Officials in 2018, PRP saw an opportunity to modernize the popular legislative resource guide and create KĀKOU—a tool for people of all ages to “Tap Into Democracy.” KĀKOU makes it easy for users to find and contact federal, state and county elected officials, register to vote, weigh in on hot button issues, email legislative committees, advocate alongside local nonprofit organizations, and more, on the convenience of a smartphone. KĀKOU is available for download on any Apple or Android phone, free of charge.

“When you look around today, most people have no idea how to get involved in government and community issues, how to contact their elected officials, or even who their elected officials are,” said Melanie Kim, PRP’s marketing manager. “KĀKOU makes it easy to get involved, find and contact your elected officials, learn about issues that you care about, and more—right on your phone. Encouraging civic engagement and strengthening Hawaii’s community is at the core of PRP’s mission. We are excited to share KĀKOU to help empower Hawai‘i’s people and community.”

State Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki are co-chairs of KĀKOU, and the app has been warmly received by legislators eager to reach a wide range of constituents.

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Understanding that meaningful change can’t be achieved by a single organization, PRP has partnered with six local nonprofit organizations in the inaugural year of KĀKOU. The organizations represent a wide array of issue-areas and concerns to improve civic engagement and address vital community needs. Through KĀKOU, users can subscribe to follow organizations of interest, and organizations can inform their members and supporters of legislation, send out alerts and updates, and share engagement and advocacy opportunities.

PRP will donate $1 per subscriber to each partnering community organization. KĀKOU’s founding partners are:

  • Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
  • Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
  • Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network
  • Hawai‘i Public Health Institute
  • HawaiiKidsCAN
  • Rainbow Family 808

“HawaiiKidsCAN is an organization fueled by the belief that civically engaged students and communities are necessary in order to build an equitable, innovative education system,” said David Miyashiro, founding executive director of local non-profit organization HawaiiKidsCAN.

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“KĀKOU is a powerful new game-changer that will make it easier than ever for our youth and residents to speak up and get involved. Given that we live in a push-button tech world, our democracy should reflect this same ease of connectivity and communication.”

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, more than 300 people attended Activate Hawai‘i 2019—the official kick-off
celebration of KĀKOU’s launch. The free event, hosted by PRP, was held at the Hawai‘i State Art Museum and offered the public an opportunity to learn more about KĀKOU, its founding nonprofit partners, and about civic engagement in Hawaii. The event featured live entertainment by Kapena and pop-ups by popular food vendors.

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