What People are Saying

Youth Leadership Summit 2018

Letters of Support

Governor David Ige

Rep. Nicole Lowen

Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz


Youth Leadership Summit 2017

Letters of Support

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz

Governor David Ige

Mayor Harry Kim

Reps. Cindy Evans and Mark Nakashima

Rep. Nicole Lowen

Rep. Cynthia Thielen

Luis Salaveria


GIA Support Letters

Design Thinking Hawaii

Daniel Akaka, Cultural Affairs

Hawaii Island Economic Development Board

High Technology Development Corporation

Nā Wai Iwi Ola (NWIO) Foundation


Polynesian Voyaging Society

University of Hawaii Hilo


Kamaile Academy PCS

James B. Castle High School


Lana’i High & Elementary School

Nä Lei Na’auao (NLN): Alliance for Native Hawaiian Education

SHYLI Youth Leaders

Elijah Anakalea-Buckley

Tania DuPont

Jacqueline Noborikawa

Alex Siordia

Trevor Tanaka

Youth Leadership Summit 2016

Letters of Support

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

Representative Cindy Evans

Representative Ken Ito

Representative Chris Lee

Representative Cynthia Thielen

Governor David Ige

Mayor Kirk Caldwell

Mayor Billy Kenoi

Luis Salaveria

Youth Leadership Summit 2015

Letters of Support

Secretary John Kerry

Governor David Ige, Hawaii

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz

State Senator Jill Tokuda, Hawaii

House Representative Ken Ito

Mayor Billy Kenoi, Hawaii Island

Youth Leadership Summit 2013

Letters of Support

Senator Brian Schatz

Mayor Billy Kenoi

Senator Mazie Hirono

Governor Neil Abercrombie

Youth Leadership Forum

This SHYLI Youth Leadership Forum has opened doors. It has made connections that I would have never thought possible. Sustainability is our goal, a goal we will reach! 

Kynan Kawai, 17

As the saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child”! I stand by this beautiful quote and I am so thankful for all the people that God had placed in our lives. Marianne, Josue, Nane, all the speakers and community members present are such inspirations! It was just an eye opening experience for my husband and I, we are so very grateful to you all! Many, many thanks for all of you who have come out and supported our youth! I am so extremely proud of my son, Kynan and his accomplishments since being apart of the SHYLI Youth Leadership Forum. He has truly been blessed to be a leader and I know he has grown and will also take so much with him as he branches out and reaches his goals in his upcoming future. 

Margaret Kawai, Parent

Any youth interested in making a difference for sustainability in Hawai’i would benefit from the high quality of the mentorship, training and support they can receive by participating in SHYLI. Listening to the experiences and projects of these young people caused me to feel great emotion and pride in what they will accomplish. Mahalo to the Stone Soup Leadership Institute for bringing this opportunity to our island youth. 

Diane Chadwick, Hawaii Community Foundation

Sustainability cannot just be a concept. It must become a way of life. SHYLI has recognized that the leaders of tomorrow are our youth and they should be commended for working with Hawai’i Island youth to learn and teach the concepts of sustainability in a way that empowers the youth and the communities they live in. This approach provides hope for the future of sustainability for Hawai’i Island and beyond.

Farrahmarie Gomes, Director,
The North Hawaii Education and Research Center,
Dean Continuing Education and Community Learning,
University of Hawaii, Hilo

Thank you for inviting me to the recent SHYLI Youth Leadership Forum. It was inspiring to be in the company of people, both young and “mature,” who share the same passion for and caring of our aina, this tiny speck of Mother Earth in the middle of the Pacific. SHYLI is a great opportunity for the next generation to explore and learn how they can take over stewardship of our precious planet. For students from Big Island’s small, rural communities, it must have been a fabulous opportunity to meet and ideate with their contemporaries at Martha’s Vineyard—it certainly expanded their universe about cultures and sustainability. Participation in SHYLI gave these students comfort and confidence in knowing that they can be more than just part of the solution; they can be the people leading charge in affecting change now!

Nem Lau, Career & Technical Education Resource Teacher,
Dept. of Education, West Hawai`i District

The Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative Forum was all that I could have anticipated and more. The ability to share what we’ve learned with others and receive positive and insightful feedback from important business and community leaders was uplifting. It was great to hear from both adults and other students who are as passionate about sustainability as I am. I received some much needed encouragement to continue to pursue my sustainability efforts. Mahalo to everyone who made the SHYLI Forum a success! Thank you Marianne, Josue and Nane for all you have done and the support you have given us to help us reach our goals. I hope more youth will have the opportunity to experience what this year’s SHYLI delegates have experienced.

Trevor Tanaka, 17

I enjoyed the presentations by Makana, Kynan and Trevor on sustainability, Makana on Culture, Kynan on Agriculture and Trevor on Energy. As emerging leaders for Hawai’i and Planet Earth in the 21st Century I wish each of you god speed and best wishes.

Robert Lindsey, Jr. Hawai’i Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Thank you for the invite for the wonderful Forum. I was very impressed and touched by every speaker’s story & speeches including your talk about Guy. Hope SHYLI, Stone Soup will continuously grow and the earth will become sustainable planet with full of love.

Mahalo, Rika Horikiri, beloved wife of Guy Toyama

The Youth Leadership Forum was a wonderful blending of ages, perspectives, backgrounds, expertise and aloha. I am so excited about the possibilities SHYLI offers our opio. I could not help but think of Bernice Pauahi Bishop – living her legacy is an inspiration for me, and I know she is pleased with the education and opportunities SHYLI is providing on Hawaii Island.

Barbara Kuuleilani (Benham) Scarth

Josue, You are so impressive. You have no limits. I look forward to your many contributions to the world! This is just the beginning of a long friendship. We have several energy and sustainability technologies in development that you could use to help your country to build a high tech industry and jobs.

Ian Kitajima, Oceanit

Marianne, Great work. I feel very proud to be part of this movement and very moved by the quotes of those present. We all walked away inspired and motivated. Our Barrios Unidos Team sends its love and respect to you and our Island relatives. I look forward to continue spreading the word about this amazing work and seeking support for its ongoing projects. I believe the Island youth can help our Mainland youth take better care of our Turtle Island. Stay Strong.

Nane Alejandrez,
Founding Director, Barrios Unidos,
Board member Stone Soup Leadership Institute

I really enjoyed Nane’s speech. It helped set the stage for a day of sharing, by expounding on previous causes—such as that of Dr. King and Harry Belafonte, with which we all share a common goal.  

Makana Tavares, 17

The Forum was a great opportunity for the youth to hear from some really inspirational adults like Uncle Bobby Lindsey, Uncle Wally Lau, each of whom provided personal stories on the change that people can create with their sustained, peaceful, dedicated action. While at the same time, the youth presentations, enlivened those professionals with the knowledge that the youth in our communities are coming up behind them, ready to take the reigns and continue the great work with the fresh energy and ideas they bring. Most importantly, the Forum provided the platform to connect our leaders with our future leaders.

Katie Schwind, Rivertop Solutions 

I had never heard of the SHYLI program before attending the forum this past weekend. I was so impressed at the students involved and their presentations. What a great program to raise up youth leaders who are concerned with sustainability! It was also a great opportunity to meet others in the community that care about our youth and our island. I was so honored to attend and plan to support and get involved with SHYLI.

Kari Waldhaus, Waimea Rotary Club, Business Coach

Youth Leadership Summit 2012

Letters of Support

Mayor Billy Kenoi
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Nancy Redfeather, The Kohala Center
Kanu o ka ‘Äina  New Century Public Charter School
University of Hawaii Chancellor
Ke Ola Magazine
Algood Living
Friends of NELHA

Official Messages from Hawaiian Leaders

We are very proud of Hawai’i Island’s youth delegates, and congratulate them on being selected as representatives of the Big Island. We extend a warm Aloha to all the delegates and wish them great success as they embark on this journey toward a more secure future for their islands and the rest of the world.

Mayor Billy Kenoi

I send a special Mahalo to the Sustainable Hawai’i Youth Leadership Initiative and the Stone Soup Leadership Institute for their support of the Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development.  These contributions of support and time provide the foundations for our future’s leadership and an environment that allows young individuals to become actively engaged in making our world a better place. 

Governor Neil Abercrombie

I welcome this opportunity to congratulate this year’s youth delegates for their outstanding contribution to the economic stability and sustainable development in our state. The delegates have shared their dreams and goals. They have demonstrated a clear understanding of their green initiatives on Hawaii Island, applying innovative management and use of technology in order to create sustainable agriculture, building, business, cultures and energy. I commend the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative and the Stone Soup Leadership Institute for their continued sponsorship of this innovative program that has helped further the readiness of Hawaii’s youth to develop and implement their Sustainability-In-Action Project that benefits their community.

U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka

SHYLI Youth Delegates to the 8th Annual Youth Leadership Summit

Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo for hosting us on Martha’s Vineyard.  The time we spent with you as our hosts was truly inspiring and enriching, I look forward to future collaborations. Amira’s cultural sharing really meant something to all of us and was something that I, personally, was able to connect to most deeply.  I miss everyone and am so grateful that I was able to be a part of the Summit, which helped us to build bridges and collaborate on paths toward change together!

Me ke aloha pumehana, Makana Tavares

This Summit was a real eye opener. It gave me the urge to want to have a vision of what I want my future to be like. It also gave me the tools to help achieve that goal. All the workshops that I was able to be included in for this Summit improved my skills as a future sustainable businessman. 

Kynan Kawai

Marthaʻs Vineyard was more intriguing than I thought. It is an Island people with the Wampanoag people working to revive their language and culture. Totally rewarding!     I believe the mission and goals of the Initiative are valuable and really good. Our students gave valuable perspectives. 

Trude Kamaka Mahi Gunderson

Mahalo for all you do for our children. Kynan felt it was productive. On Monday night, I had him spoke to about 75 people working on our “North Kohala Growing a Local Food System” meeting and he shared his potential project. Senator Malama Solomon was one of the attendees and both made the connection.

David Fuertes, Ka Hana No’eau, Partners in Development

Hawaii’s isolation and vulnerability is our greatest asset. It forces our island people to shift into a new era of sustainable and self-reliant living. Upon meeting Josue and SHYLI members, I’m encouraged to see our youth leaders grab the ball and run to the goal with a sense of urgency.

Guy Toyama, NELHA

Fantastic! Great article by Makana. Congratulations to everyone for a job well done. It’s great to see SHYLI progressing.

Barbara Garcia, Publisher, Ke Ola Magazine

I believe that the Sustainable Hawaii Island Leadership Initiative can empower our youth with experiences to transform them into tomorrow’s leaders by achieving personal dreams and by being stewards of our ‘aina.

Holly Algood, West Hawaii Mediation Center

It was so great to be part of the launch of this amazing program on the Big Island.  I’m really grateful — it gives me a lot of hope for our future.

Barbara Garcia, Publisher, Ke Ola Magazine

I want to express my great amount of appreciation for what you are trying to accomplish for our awesome community. There are many different ideas that I would have for action on sustaining our islands and I would love to discuss them further with you so please message me back. You are a wonderful speaker and an inspiring person and I am sure that we will have many agreements and ideas to share so thank you for this opportunity for youth to be able to make a difference.

James Higgins, Connections High School nominee

Good job! I forwarded this article to two youth agencies we work with.

Lori Sasaki, Hawai’i Workforce Development Division

This new youth leadership initiative is very powerful and timely. I think it will touch many people who have felt (as I have) the frustration of trying to assist the young people in a world that mostly is unaware of all they have to offer, all their intelligence and natural good sense.  Thank you for honoring that. 

Joan Ocean

Dear SHYLI Youth,

A Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Hilo, I learned about your great work in West Hawaii through the March-April issue of “Ke Ola”.  In line with your vision and action, I wish to share about a global event planned for January 2012 on Oahu. You may find the opportunity to interact with other like minded youth passionate about protecting and rejuvenating earth exciting. 

Gail Takaki, Rotarian with the Rotary Club of Hilo,
Assisting with the Global Youth Peace Forum

Dearest Marianne,  

First of all, thank you for being who you are.  It was more than a pleasure to meet you on Friday at HCC.  It was an affirmation that goodness prevails, I saw it through you, your vision and actions.  It was an education in conviction, determination and boldness.  I admired your willingness to have your talents and abilities to be used to benefit the sustainability of our planet.  I am strengthened as a teacher to witness someone with your gifts dedicating to the youth, promoting them, and demanding from them excellence as a human being.  You affirmed everything I tried to convey.  Mahalo!

Grace Chao, Sustainability & Economics teacher
at Connections High School, Hilo

Mahalo for your commitment to youth leadership development. Today, as much as ever our youth need support. Youth mentoring youth opens the doorway to the future. Keep opening those doors.  We will keep open to possibilities and ways the Kau i ka Malie Center can contribute and engage.

Christy Schumann, Kau i ka Malie Center

I just read your article and I was so inspired by your words, experience and wisdom. I know that you will help make the world and the Big Island a better place.  I am going to share your amazing story with my classes.

Mrs. Lovato, Konawaena High School Culinary Instructor

Many thanks. Young people are bombarded with suggested goals to emulate: rock/music stars, movie stars, sports figures, most with high salary figures, so is the goal a high income? This program appears to be one avenue to reevaluate; what is important?? Down sizing our goals to sustain by what is good for self, family, and community will make for a better world.

Patricia Blair

This is a great organization. It gives me so much hope for our young people and our island.

Teri Sugg

Thanks for all you do. Good stuff.

Anne Anderson

Keep up the great work guys! It matters and it’s making a difference!

Javier Sanchez

I wanted to let you know that we at REACH are BIG fans of the work you all are doing with young people. Positive peer prevention is the absolute best way to keep young people on the right track and making the right decisions. The most effective programs are the ones that are youth driven and adult guided – just like your program.  We’d love to be a part of the efforts you have that inspire and equip young people to make the best possible choices for themselves and those around them.  Stephanie

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