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Fellows Spotlight
Purple Mai‘a is on a Mission to Inspire and Educate
November 25, 2020

Forest Frizzell, Cohort I, gives back through serving as a board member of Purple Maiʻa, a technology education nonprofit working to educate and empower the next generation of culturally grounded, community-serving technology makers and problem solvers. He answered our questions about the organization and shares how to get involved.

Photo courtesy Purple Mai‘a Foundation

Hawai‘i Leadership Forum (HLF): What does Purple Maiʻa offer and how is it making an impact? 

Forest Frizzell (FF): We offer three programs target different age groups and skill areas:

  • The Kaikaina program serves youth in grades 6-12, providing access to coding and computer science classes that are relevant to Hawaiian and local youth.
  • The Hiapo program focuses on workforce training in technology skills for young adults and adults pursuing careers that can support a family.
  • The Purple Prize is a technology social enterprise incubator and competition that has stoked a conversation about indigenous innovation and also produced new tech companies led by meʻe, or champion Hawaiian and local founders.

We have pivoted to all online programming, serving over 200 youth and adults since March. This crisis has highlighted the need for technology literacy at home; online capacity of local nonprofits, businesses, and government; and an economy less tied to tourism and vulnerable to global shocks. We are working hard to build all parts of an innovation economy.

HLF: What is the motivation behind Purple Maiʻa? 

FF: Our founders, Olin Lagon and Donavan Kealoha, built their careers and lives doing work in technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship despite coming from rural and underserved communities. They both experienced growing up in a society with low expectations of Hawaiian youth, but also with strong values of sharing and looking out for the whole community. Providing resources for the next generation is ingrained in them, and they also wanted to send a message to Hawaiian and local youth that they are capable of excellence in technology and innovation.

HLF: Is there an opportunity for others in the community to help or volunteer

FF: Visit www.purplemaia.org and sign up for our newsletter and follow @purple_maia on Instagram and @purplemaia on Facebook for updates on our latest programming. Participate yourself or share opportunities with youth and adults. If you have technical or cultural knowledge you feel a kuleana to share, email kokua@purplemaia.org


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