Art Contest Offers Chance to Save for the Future

October 22, 2019, 9:29 AM HST (Updated October 22, 2019, 9:30 AM)
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PC: USGS photo by M. Patrick.

Students participating in the Nā ‘Ōpio o Puna Art Contest have an opportunity to save for success through individual development accounts (IDA) awarded to the top three winners, a County press release said.

Hawai‘i County’s Kīlauea eruption recovery team is partnering with Hawaiian Community Assets (HCA) and its community development institution, Hawaii Community Lending, to provide these savings accounts as part of the contest — which asks students attending Puna high schools to illustrate what it means to be “Hawai‘i Island and Puna Strong.”

“We don’t want to just ask them what it means to be Puna Strong,” said Bob Agres, the County’s recovery engagement manager. “We want to help them become Puna Strong. These accounts will give them a leg up by helping them build assets that can be used for educational or entrepreneurial expenses.”

An IDA of $1,000 will be opened for the first-place winner, $750 for the second-place winner and $500 for the third-place winner.

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IDAs are restricted savings accounts that have been used for career training, education, starting a small business, first month’s rent and other similar expenses.

HCA, a nonprofit community development organization, has helped hundreds of adults and keiki get on the path to financial success through similar programs. Since 2011, it has provided 664 IDAs and $1.3 million in total match funds.

“Individual development accounts have inspired our low-income children and families to save, even if they are on fixed income and living paycheck to paycheck,” said HCA Executive Director Lahela Williams. “By pairing the accounts with financial education, not only are our people gaining access to capital for important financial goals, but they are also learning long-term financial habits that will help them become more economically self-sufficient. We look forward to partnering with the County and private sector partners to create greater economic opportunity for Hawai‘i Island youth.”

One of the past IDA recipients, Chantrelle Wai‘alae, said the account helped her save for graduate school while raising two girls as a single mom.

“Being able to have that support, just like a little something to kickstart me in the direction I needed to take the girls and I into was helpful,” she said. “It was a huge help in my life.”

Wai‘alae said she took financial education classes through HCA to start the account. A $1,000 match was provided for the first $1,000 she was able to save.

Similar financial education classes will be available to the top three winners in this contest. The County also is exploring match opportunities for contest winners to help them leverage their own savings.

Financial contributions for the contest IDAs are provided by Tetra Tech, SSFM International, and the Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development.

The art contest deadline is Nov. 4. To submit, and for more information, visit recovery.hawaiicounty.gov.

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