Punahou Launches Davis Democracy Initiative to Promote Civic Engagement

Punahou School launched the Davis Democracy Initiative, with the mission of promoting a culture of civic engagement and public service at Punahou and throughout the broader Hawai‘i education community.

The innovative, new K – 12 program, which was made possible through the financial support of Mark and Janie Davis, formally launched on Tuesday at an event featuring U.S. Senator Brian Schatz ’90, Governor Josh Green and Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

More than 200 were in attendance for the launch, which included remarks from the politicians, along with Punahou President Mike Latham ’86, Mark Davis, Punahou senior Chloe Devere ’23, who introduced Schatz, and Kuaihelani kumu, who performed mele oli.

“This is an extraordinary gift from the Davis family, and we are excited by the opportunity to pioneer this important work at the primary and secondary levels of education,” said Punahou President Mike Latham ’86. “The Davis Democracy Initiative will explore issues vital to the success of American democracy and help to prepare generations of young people from Hawai‘i to make essential contributions as citizens of their communities.”

About the Davis Democracy Initiative

The Davis Democracy Initiative bridges intellectual study and applied, practical experience in professional and public life. In an innovative step, it builds on the work of prominent centers and programs at U.S. universities and liberal arts colleges in a K – 12 educational setting.

The Initiative’s core themes of inquiry and engagement include an examination of politics and democratic participation, civil rights, media bias, legal systems and social justice, public policy, community engagement and social responsibility.

Reaching Youth Throughout the State

The Initiative will enable Punahou to deepen its contributions to Hawai‘i by creating collaborations and partnerships with public schools, other independent schools, and universities throughout the state and nation.

“There is a clear and compelling need to support civic engagement at the K – 12 level,” said Mark Davis, a longtime Hawai‘i attorney. “Punahou will work closely with other schools, higher education, nonprofits and service organizations to build a network of collaboration across many fronts.”

The Initiative will pursue a wide range of opportunities to bring together Punahou and non-Punahou students, including through shared speaker events, workshops and a fellowship model.

The world young people will inherit will be defined by vital questions of equity, justice, civil discourse, and the ability to find common ground and common understanding. The Davis Democracy Initiative holds untapped potential for forging pathways for students as they mature as active and engaged citizens of Hawai‘i and of the nation.

Punahou President Mike Latham ’86

The Initiative’s core themes of inquiry and engagement include a balanced analysis of politics and democratic participation, civil discourse, media bias, legal systems and social justice, public policy, community engagement and social responsibility.

External Partnerships, Speaker Events and Fellowship Program

A vital goal of the Initiative will be to provide experiences outside the classroom, including collaboration with universities and public schools, faculty development, conferences and a guest speaker lecture series.

Starting this spring, the Initiative will host speakers ranging from local activists and community organizers to national voices to speak on a range of topics such as issues of environmental sustainability, food security, immigration policies and public health.

The Davis Democracy Fellows Program provides a pathway for Punahou high school students to gain knowledge and experience related to democracy and civic engagement. Punahou intends to expand the program to students from other schools as well.

Local media reported on the launch of Punahou’s Davis Democracy Initiative. See articles from Civil BeatKHON2Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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