Hawai‘i Tracker administrators, followers start nonprofit to share natural disaster information and expand services

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Creators of the Facebook group Hawaiʻi Tracker, which shares information about natural disasters impacting the Puna community, has formed a nonprofit to expand their efforts into fundraising and growing opportunities to create islandwide outreach.

The nonprofit is called Hawaiian Volcano Education and Resilience Institute.

Hawaiian Volcano Education and Resilience Institute was formed by residents directly affected by the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano.

The nonprofit’s mission is to improve disaster preparedness, response and recovery through volcano education and resilience network building.

Dane DuPont, co-executive director of the nonprofit and an administrator on Hawai‘i Tracker, said the Facebook page was started in 2014 when Kīlauea was erupting in the Pāhoa area. The page gained popularity in 2018 when the volcano erupted in communities in Puna, destroying homes and property.


The biggest issue during the eruption five years ago, DuPont said, was the timeliness of information about the eruption to the community.

According to officials with the nonprofit, Hawaiʻi Tracker emerged as a trusted informational and organizational resource for lava-impacted communities in 2018. It was recognized by the Hawaiʻi County Council for “dedication in bringing consistent and factual information to our island residents in a timely manner when they needed it most.”

The nonprofit assumes management of the ongoing social media presence of Hawaiʻi Tracker, which now has more than 119,000 members. This social media network connects community members to exchange information, increases engagement with officials, and improves emergency response, especially during disasters.

Along with sharing information, Hawaiʻi Tracker produces weekly articles and live videos as part of a Volcano Education program. The videos and articles have been posting every day since the main phase of the 2018 eruption ended.


Philip Ong, co-executive director of the nonprofit and administrator of Hawai‘i Tracker, said the group started receiving donations, and eventually were awarded grants under the fiscal sponsorship of other nonprofits.

“We are confident our new organization will allow us to expand our funding, build a diverse workforce, and strengthen our outreach island-wide in the years to come,” Ong said. “We appreciate the community’s support to kickstart this next chapter through our inaugural fundraising campaign.”

The initial goal is to support ongoing projects, then to expand its staff and outreach programs through internships and new hirings.

Donations can be made at


Initially operated entirely by volunteers, more recent support has come from Hawaiʻi County’s Puna Strong and Waiwai grants under fiscal sponsorship by Malama O Puna and Kuleana Pāhoa, and administered by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.

During the 2022 Mauna Loa eruption, Hawaiʻi Tracker partnered with the Hawaiʻi County Mayor’s Office and Civil Defense, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, and the U.S. Army Garrison at Pōhakuloa, as well as crowd-sourced content from the community, to produce frequent and in-depth eruption updates and interviews.

Hawaiʻi Tracker also has responded to Kīlauea’s summit eruptions beginning in Dec. 2020, Sep. 2021, Jan. 2023 and June 2023.

The nonprofit assumes oversight of Hawaiʻi Tracker’s Digital Resilience Program that educates community on the uses and hazards of social media and artificial intelligence, while nurturing trusted online spaces for disaster communications. This involves maintenance and moderation of the Hawaiʻi Tracker network itself along with building relationships with other nonprofits, community groups and disaster responders.

This also includes finalization and deployment of the Digital Resilience Hub Framework, a model for other community-based social media groups to participate in disaster response.

Digital Resilience Hubs will be certified by fulfilling certain requirements and completing Hawaiʻi Tracker’s recently developed Social Media Moderation Training Program. The framework is based on the success of the Facebook group and a suite of peer-reviewed research, and designed for collaborative disaster response with Vibrant Hawaiʻi’s alliance of island-wide Resilience Hubs and supporting partners, including Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense.

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