API RISE

API RISE

API RISE was founded to empower the Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander American communities and specifically those individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. We aspire to be an organization that celebrates diversity through inclusion and to build upon knowledge, resources and organizing to undo the

API RISE

API RISE works with an array of Asians and Pacific Islanders. The majority of our members are Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Laotian, Hmong, Korean, Thai, Hawaiian, Samoan, and Japanese. We are refugee, immigrant, and American born. We are LGBTQ. We reflect various socio-economic circumstances and faith practices. API RISE members and the broader community are also bi and multi-cultural. The majority of our members began their incarceration as young teenagers, often over-sentenced due to language barriers, being undocumented, and sometimes questionable legal representation. API RISE focuses on youth in high risk situations, active and former gang affiliated, and formerly incarcerated communities because what happens in the streets is often directly connected to what is occurring in juvenile detention, jail, prison, and ICE detention centers. We approach violence prevention as recidivism prevention, crime prevention, and substance use harm reduction. API RISE understands and responds to added stressors, which often includes post traumatic stress, socialization and acculturation, varying degrees of education, and for too many, a looming fear of deportation by ICE back to countries where they fled as young children. The primary challenges/issues facing our members are transitioning from incarceration, which includes obtaining documentation (SSN, work permit), employment and education, cultural and language barriers, housing, and transportation. Many of our undocumented members face the risk of deportation.

About the Organization:

API RISE works with an array of Asians and Pacific Islanders. The majority of our members are Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Laotian, Hmong, Korean, Thai, Hawaiian, Samoan, and Japanese. We are refugee, immigrant, and American born. We are LGBTQ. We reflect various socio-economic circumstances and faith practices. API RISE members and the broader community are also bi and multi-cultural. The majority of our members began their incarceration as young teenagers, often over-sentenced due to language barriers, being undocumented, and sometimes questionable legal representation. API RISE focuses on youth in high risk situations, active and former gang affiliated, and formerly incarcerated communities because what happens in the streets is often directly connected to what is occurring in juvenile detention, jail, prison, and ICE detention centers. We approach violence prevention as recidivism prevention, crime prevention, and substance use harm reduction. API RISE understands and responds to added stressors, which often includes post traumatic stress, socialization and acculturation, varying degrees of education, and for too many, a looming fear of deportation by ICE back to countries where they fled as young children. The primary challenges/issues facing our members are transitioning from incarceration, which includes obtaining documentation (SSN, work permit), employment and education, cultural and language barriers, housing, and transportation. Many of our undocumented members face the risk of deportation.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

6-10 YEARS

The Issue:

Homelessness in Hawaii is a persistent problem.  According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there were 6,458 people in our state without a place to sleep on any given night in 2020. Youth aged 18-24 are the fastest growing homelessness group in Hawaii, accounting for 92% of Unaccompanied Youth Experiencing Homelessness, a trend likely to increase with COVID-19 causing economic hardships and rising household tensions. Due to having one of the highest costs of living in the United States, a robust social-service safety net is imperative to make youth homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.
Why are so many Native Hawaiian youth homeless? An astounding 75% of the youth who needed assistance were Native Hawaiian or multi-racial. Additionally, 19% of the youth aged 18-24 who participated in the 2018 Street Youth Study conducted by the University of Hawaii identified as LGBTQ+.
Oahu has very few shelter options to offer homeless youth designed to meet their specific needs. For those over 18, RYSE is the only youth emergency shelter; all other emergency shelters offer adult shelter services run by homeless adult service providers. These resources are often not a good fit. Many have developed a mistrust of services following negative experiences with adults and fear social service agency notification or legal intervention. The trauma of homelessness itself can be debilitating at any age, however, for these young adults, it prevents them from having quality education, jobs, and life experiences.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, four out of five children who were experiencing homelessness have been exposed to at least one serious violent event by age 12.  Imagine that child now on the streets as an 18-year-old, without a high school degree, identification, or any prospects of their own.  How do we expect our youth to be able to rise out of poverty without access to appropriate services?

The Solution:

Residential Youth Services & Empowerment (RYSE) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating youth access centers and shelter services in Kailua, urban Honolulu, and Haleiwa. We provide a continuum of support that empowers Hawaii’s street youth to move beyond homelessness.
In collaboration with both government and nonprofit partners, we have expanded our original center in Waikiki to a well-coordinated and compliant multi-site system. 100% of the youth served by RYSE are homeless and representative of one or more underserved populations, including Immigrant/LEP youth from Micronesian countries, Samoa, Philippines; LGBTQQ; Native Hawaiian youth; Individuals with Disabilities; Individuals with Mental Health and/or Substance Abuse Issues; Victims of Sex Trafficking; Youth Aging Out of the Foster Care System; and Youth Offenders.
Programs and Services
  1. Shelter and Housing: RYSE operates two emergency housing shelters and three housing programs for youth ages 14-24 on the island of Oahu. Offering food, shelter, showers, laundry, WiFi, hygiene supplies, and wrap-around services.
  2. Medical Clinic & Behavioral Health: The Physical Health Services include COVID support, sexual health, family planning, chronic disease management, HIV and Hepatitis C testing, eye care, and general medical services. The Mental Health Services include behavioral health counseling, group/individual therapy, anger management classes, substance abuse counseling, and treatment referrals.
  3. Education and Employment: counseling, GED glasses, driver’s license support, financial literacy courses, workforce development, paid internship opportunities, and more.
  4. Outreach and Engagement: mobile outreach team available to reach youth where they are 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
RYSE is currently developing a Modular Community Village to support the ever-expanding need in Hawaii.  This is an innovative pilot project that will house and support up to 22 youth and young families experiencing homelessness. We are planning a new village for 15 individual homes and one temporary non-dwelling unit. The village will also include common areas to build community through cooking, dining, laundry, and gathering together. This project will expand our current offerings in Kailua and Haleiwa to create more independent, dignified communities across Hawaii.

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