Our History

In 1998, residents from economically distressed communities across O`ahu launched a “grassroots” effort to plan for a sustainable economic future and prepare Honolulu’s Empowerment Zone (EZ) application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The effort involved more than 150,000 volunteer hours and thousands of residents from low and moderate income (LMI) communities in community conversations and working sessions over a three-year period. The product of this effort was an initial 1998 O`ahu EZ Strategic Plan and an updated version of the plan in 2001.

During that process, Empower O`ahu was formed on an interim basis to implement the EZ Strategic Plan. The Empowerment Zone application was not approved by HUD but, the communities involved in its development felt strongly about sustaining the community economic empowerment process on O`ahu. In 2000, Empower O`ahu was formally incorporated as a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation for this purpose.


Community Implementation Groups (CIGs)

Empower O`ahu is made up of six communities including: Aiea, Ewa Beach, Kalihi-Chinatown, Wahiawa, Waialua, and Waipahu.

These communities are known as Community Implementation Groups (CIGs) and are responsible for implementing the community developed strategic plans.

Empower O`ahu is an island-wide governing entity designed to support the individual CIGs as they further develop and implement their strategic plans and maximize the impact of community-based implementation activities by addressing regional, inter-community, and island-wide issues, strategies, and concerns.