An application designed to help the public to engage with their government was recently launched as an initiative of the Pacific Resource Partnership, which is a not-for-profit organization that represents the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, the largest construction union in the state, and more than 240 of Hawai‘i’s top contractors.
KAKOU, Hawai‘i’s first ever civic engagement app, 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. “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. “KAKOU 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.”
After taking over the publishing of the Hawaii Directory of Public Officials in 2018, PRP saw an opportunity to modernize the popular legislative resource guide and create KAKOU – a tool for people of all ages to “Tap Into Democracy.” KAKOU helps 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, all on the convenience of a smartphone. KAKOU is available for download on any Apple or Android phone, free of charge.
“Encouraging civic engagement and strengthening Hawai‘i’s community is at the core of PRP’s mission,” Kim said. “We are excited to share KAKOU to help empower Hawa‘ii’s people and community.”
State Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki are co-chairs of KAKOU, and the app has been warmly received by legislators eager to reach a wide range of constituents, according to PRP.
By using the KAKOU app, 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.
PRP has partnered with six local nonprofit organizations in the inaugural year of KAKOU. The organizations represent a wide array of issue-areas and concerns to improve civic engagement and address vital community needs.
KAKOU’s founding partners include Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Hawaii Children’s Action Network, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, HawaiiKidsCAN, and 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. “KAKOU 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.”
More than 300 people attended Activate Hawaii 2019 – the official kick-off celebration of KAKOU’s launch on February 6. 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 KAKOU, its founding nonprofit partners, and about civic engagement in Hawai‘i. The event featured live entertainment by Kapena and pop-ups by popular food vendors.