DLNR News Release: Aina Corps Program Relaunches with 130 Open Jobs

Posted on Nov 15, 2021 in Latest News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – Applications are opening tomorrow for 130 new positions designed to help both the environment and the economy as part of the Hawaiʻi response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Governor David Ige and the Hawaiʻi State Legislature approved the use of $5 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support a new Green Job Youth Corps. DLNR is the administering agency and has partnered with Kupu, Hawai‘i’s conservation and youth education nonprofit, to provide funding that will expand the existing Kupu ‘Āina Corps program.

This program will give those in sustainability jobs, who have been economically disadvantaged by the pandemic, opportunities and resources to support their recovery. As the program manager, Kupu is now accepting applications for both full-time and part-time job applicants and for sustainability organizations interested in serving as host sites for Kupu ʻĀina Corps members.

The relaunched program will be like the successful 2020 Kupu ʻĀina Corps program, in which Kupu and the State provided over 350 displaced workers and recent graduates with jobs and training in natural resource management and sustainable agriculture.

In addition to caring for over 21,700 acres of land, the program generated an estimated $6.5 million in economic benefits for Hawaiʻi while costing less than half that amount. Additionally, one in three participants reported finding long-term employment at the end of the program, and half reported either finding long-term employment or were pursuing higher education.

“Creating green jobs is a win-win for the people of Hawaiʻi and the environment,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “Our forests, working lands and nearshore waters need the help of dedicated, passionate individuals. We look forward to working with Kupu, and thank lawmakers and others who worked to secure this funding.”

“We are excited to continue the Kupu ʻĀina Corps, and grateful for the opportunity to do so through this partnership with DLNR,” said John Leong, CEO and Co-Founder of Kupu. “This program invests in our residents’ desire to work in jobs that give back to Hawaiʻi and prepare for the environmental challenges of the future. This program will help to build a restorative economy in Hawaiʻi while creating upward mobility for all participants and lead to a more resilient future for our state.”

All eligible applicants 17 and older will be considered, but Kupu strongly encourages applications from participants between the ages of 20 and 40, as that group was identified in the legislation funding the program.

Full-time and part-time positions throughout the state are available and are ideal for applicants looking to move into or return to work in a sustainability-related industry. Participants will gain real life experience through a variety of areas related to natural resource management, agriculture, conservation, renewable energy, or other sustainability professions.

Depending on host site availability, positions may address a broad spectrum of topics, including aquatic and terrestrial resource management, outreach, mapping, native species restoration, invasive species removal, renewable energy, sustainable farming, and more.

Host sites can include nonprofits, for-profit businesses, and government agencies. This is an ideal program for businesses trying to grow, or to figure out how to hire and retain qualified employees. The Kupu ‘Āina Corps positions are structured as a cost share, with Kupu covering roughly 75 percent of costs and host sites covering roughly 25 percent ($12,000 per participant). Host sites pay a small fraction of the true cost of adding to their workforce and growing their industry this way.

“This is a great opportunity for sustainability entrepreneurs, conservation organizations, and nonprofits that are ready to grow,” explained Kupu Director of External Relations, Kawika Riley.

Applications for Kupu ‘Āina Corps open Nov. 16, 2021. The round one deadline for applications is December 10, 2021, with a final deadline of January 7, 2022.

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