The Pono Policy Academy began in 2018 with funding support from the League of Women Voters Education Fund. A training program has been developed for individuals who would like to serve in public office. This program also provides information to groups and individuals on how the Legislative process functions.
Pono Policy Academy is a non-partisan effort open to anyone interested. In addition to teaching participants the skills needed to run a campaign, much time is spent on explaining the practice of “Pono Politics.”
Alex Santiago, Manager of Pono Policy Academy and No Vote No Grumble, says that many of the participants are eager to gain knowledge on how to operate a campaign effectively and are appreciative of the program’s ability to put together a comprehensive overview of what is needed to run a successful campaign.
“Pono Politics is really based on the practice of the Hawaiian value of being ʻPono.’ Values such as integrity, courage and honor are discussed in detail with all participants. We hope that it provides them a foundation to better serve our community and state,” says Santiago.
Pono Policy Academy has held four trainings, each with a class consisting of five to ten participants and has received over thirty applications. Evaluations of the initial trainings have been very positive. Santiago is hopeful that the momentum will continue as an exciting election year approaches.
The age diversity in the participants have ranged from their mid-twenties up to seventy. Their experiences have ranged from having previously run for office to no experience.
Alex Santiago believes that a program like this has been needed for many years and more efforts need to be made to teach all citizen’s how to be better engaged and “plugged in” to the political and Legislative process.
“It is always amazing to me how so many people want to get involved, but just don’t know how or where to begin. Pono Policy Academy is all about demystifying the process and encouraging more people to participate. I believe that an engaged and educated population will lead to improvements overall for all segments of our communities.”