Movers and Shakas, an initiative to attract former Hawaii residents and other out-of-state professionals to work remotely from Hawaii while volunteering in the local community, has confirmed its first cohort.

The fifty participants work in a wide range of industries, including technology, education, consulting, energy, and financial services, and 65 percent are former Hawaii residents.

Nicole Lim

“We look forward to the contributions of our initial cohort of outstanding remote workers, who will contribute their time and skills to impactful projects with local nonprofits in Hawaii,” explained Nicole Lim, director of Movers and Shakas. “Over the next few months, this group will be engaging with the community in a way that creates a sense of shared stewardship for our natural and cultural resources.

“As a long term goal, this program will help us build resilience in our economy by further exploring remote work opportunities – especially in our tech and innovation sectors,” Lim added.

All participants will attend pre-departure orientations and cultural training provided by the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. Members of the cohort will arrive in Honolulu over the next few months and each participant is expected to work from Hawaii for at least 30 days.

This initial group will receive free round-trip tickets to Oahu, donated by United Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and will be provided access to special discounts at local hotels. They will receive no additional payment beyond the compensation and benefits they currently receive from their own employers.

“I understand that Hawaii has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and I appreciate that this program is looking for ways to create a more resilient, less-tourism dependent economy by cultivating an ecosystem of remote workers,” said program participant Olivia Papa, an engagement manager at a global consulting firm who will be moving from Orlando, Florida. “I look forward to creating a deeper connection with Hawaii to truly understand its people, history and culture, something I would not have been able to do in just a short stay to Hawaii.”

“I left Hawaii right after high school, but still consider it my true home,” said Jennica Goo, a full-stack software engineer who works remotely for Zillow Group and was one of the founding members of the company’s Indigenous People’s Network. “I am most excited about the opportunity to volunteer with nonprofits and put my skills to work where I can benefit the local community the most. I want to look for opportunities to connect my work at Zillow with the Native Hawaiian community.”

During their stay, participants will volunteer with non-profit partners such as the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Literacy, The Pantry by Feeding Hawaii Together, and Girls Scouts of Hawaii for at least 15 hours a week.

“We are extremely excited to begin our partnership with the Movers and Shakas program to bring new opportunities to our girls – especially in the area of STEM education,” said Shari Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of Hawaii. “The volunteers will provide extra assistance as we build our STEM Center for Excellence at Camp Paumalū on the North Shore of Oahu, as well as help to craft and deliver virtual programs centered around STEM careers.”

Program organizers were overwhelmed with the response of nearly 90,000 applicants for 50 initial spots. This pilot group will help refine plans for the future as the program looks for ways to grow.

Funding for Movers and Shakas was provided through donations from a variety of founding organizations, with support from the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). This program is not funded by the CARES Act or any government funding dedicated to COVID-19 recovery.

About Movers and Shakas

Movers and Shakas aims to attract socially responsible remote workers to come to Hawaii and actively contribute to the community. The program is rooted in three pillars: people, economy and caring for Hawaii. The mission is to create a more innovative, resilient, and sustainable Hawaii by enabling personal relationships, professional collaborations, and contributions to the community. For more information about the Movers and Shakas program, visit www.moversandshakas.org.

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