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WAO becomes independent 501(c)3!

Aloha, Alii, Hafa adai, Lenwo, Kaselehlie, Maori, Mogethin, Ran allim, Weninwom, and Yakwe,

It’s happening! We are excited to share the news with you that we have finally achieved our goal for We Are Oceania (WAO) to establish itself as an independent 501(c)3, and to thank all of our many funders and partners who helped lay the foundation and empower success in support of the Micronesian Community.

In our kuaʻana relationship as older and younger sibling mentorship, our organizations both have the privilege of working with and learning from each other as ʻohana members. Now the kaikaina/younger sibling is growing up and we celebrate this transition to independence with full confidence in WAO’s future and success. As the need for a One Stop Center was identified by the Micronesian community, we began working together in 2015 through a grant awarded to support COFA families from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.  Because WAO didn’t have a 501(c)3 to receive funding, PIDF, with their excellent history record of receiving and managing federal funds, was asked to kōkua in mentoring the new entity, with a shared vision to build resilience, advocacy, and a range of diverse support services. 

Fast forward to this month as we celebrate WAO’s growth and progress from the opening of Hālau Ola, the onestop center to guide and navigate the Micronesian community with resources, to the annual cultural celebration, Micronesian Youth Summit, and conversations with Micronesian leaders, youth, grassroot organizations, and allies in the community.

In recent months, WAO was able to scale up efforts to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 within the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander communities, the hardest-hit group within the state. WAO’s launch of a live helpline, increased food distributions, and strategic relief services provided much-needed support to many families. 

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, WAO will continue to operate its navigational services and also sees an opportunity for growth in impacting the self-sustainability of the community. WAO hopes to amplify the voices of Micronesians  through continued education, develop employment opportunities by offering job readiness, civic engagement, and supporting leadership and capacity development. 

Now as independent entities, we look forward to working collaboratively to strengthen our communities. We will continue to partner on projects and efforts like our work with the Residential Youth Services and Empowerment (RYSE) to support opportunity youth with mentorship to help with various jobs in the social service sector. 

As ʻohana members , we honor each others’ differences as well as our shared values and beliefs, like the power of partnership, evidenced by the effort to steadily develop a deep network of partners locally, nationally, and with its COFA citizens’ home countries. We know that by empowering all of our people, they, in turn, can be a support to others in weaving stronger networks of success. 

From all of us at PIDF and WAO, mahalo a nui loa!