Press Release from Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI)

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Communities RISE Together Partnership to Support Community-Based Organizations in Local COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts in Over 25 States.


Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute to focus on Education and Equitable Access in Areas of Hawaiʻi that have been hard hit by the pandemic.

Honolulu, HI – In response to inequities in the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations in many communities of color compared to white areas, and with the surge in cases due to the more transmissible Delta variant, Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI) is partnering with Communities RISE Together and local partners Project Vision Hawaiʻi and Kaʻū Rural Health Community Association Inc. (KRHCAI) with a focus on COVID-19 outreach in targeted low-vaccination areas on Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island.

Communities RISE Together is an initiative funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services to promote vaccinations in Black, Asian-American/Pacific-Islander, Latinx, Native-American, rural, immigrant/migrant and low-income older adult populations in more than 220 counties in over 25 states and territories* with low vaccination rates. Partners WE in the World, which convenes the Well Being In the Nation (WIN) Network, and the Public Health Institute are coordinating and administering this initiative.

The COVID pandemic has revealed and worsened persistent racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health inequities, with vastly different rates of COVID cases, vaccination rates, and health and life outcomes in communities of color, and evident in Hawaii’s current surge in cases. The Communities RISE Together initiative aims to address these gaps through trusted messengers who are already on the ground and have deep trust in communities.

Over the six month project, some of the activities supported in Hawaiʻi will include:

  • Partner with community organizations to provide new and critical information regarding COVID-19 to increase awareness and confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Support the coordination of vaccination and testing sites in targeted zip codes including promotion of events and recruitment of volunteers and community leaders.
  • Utilize Hawaiʻi State Department of Health data as guidance to target outreach efforts.
  • Connect residents to community resources to ensure equitable access to information and resources that promote overall health and well-being for all of Hawaii’s people.

In a direct response to COVID-19, HIPHI has made intentional efforts to keep communities safe and informed with rapidly emerging science, including alerting the public when new and crucial information is released. According to Jessica Yamauchi, CEO of HIPHI, “As the impacts of the pandemic evolved over time, tapping into a vast network of connections and expertise was necessary to motivate communities and mobilize resources to hardest hit areas. Collaborating with integral community partners such as Project Vision Hawaiʻi and Kaʻū Rural Health Community Association Inc. will leverage access and resources to residents in hard-to-reach communities.”

For more information on events and volunteer opportunities happening near you or how you can volunteer, please visit these resources:

Other partners in Communities RISE Together include CHROMATIC BLACK, the Center for Popular Democracy, Latino Health Access, the Migrant Clinicians Network, Meals on Wheels America, National Councils on Aging, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Public Health Institute’s Center to Advance Community Health and Equity, and WE in the World/WIN Network.

Follow #CommunitiesRISE on social media to see work as it happens across the country. Find out more about Communities RISE Together and or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services press release on the Communities RISE award.


*The states and territories are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Federated States of Micronesia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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