Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation

Why It Matters joins three intertwining strands of programming and media projects. Partnering with the Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, the Civic Education Council, and Kāhuli Leo Leʻa, and others, we believe this three-strand lei of programming and media will empower and inspire more of us in our community to not only engage with the election and the legislature this year, but continue to act to care for, strengthen, and enrich our communities through longterm committed civic engagement.

We are committed to exploring courageous and controversial topics that matter to our communities, and creating spaces for true exchange and listening across our different viewpoints. In this way, we build genuine and robust political participation.

The Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation initiative is administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Why It Matters programs in Hawaiʻi are created in partnership with the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, the Civic Education Council, and Kāhuli Leo Leʻa.



King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center

The King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center is an administrative program of the Hawaii State Judiciary and a permanent educational institution created to inform and provide learning opportunities about the judicial process and Hawaii’s legal history from pre-contact to present.

As part of the Why It Matters initiative, the Judiciary History Center is creating a series of panel and discussion events featuring community leaders and scholars. Topics include historical and contemporary analyses of what makes good leadership, histories of suffrage and voting rights (including histories of women and African American voting), and reflections on contemporary grassroots and protest movements. This series began before the local and national election of 2020 and will extend into 2021.

Civic Education CouncilJust Futures Project

The Civic Education Council is engaged in the work of hearing, elevating and honoring youth voice. The work of CEC is aimed at providing a holistic, grassroots approach to solving some of our society’s biggest challenges. CEC believes young people are the key to historically informed political change that works towards our desired preferred future.

The Just Futures Project, a Why It Matters program, highlights and elevates youth voices and engagement with the electoral process. Kids Voting Hawaiʻi, the Civic Education Council, and other partners are creating a series of short videos featuring diverse young leaders, their ideas about the future, and how to make change. The Just Futures Project is also planning a virtual “Just Futures” Summit for youth leaders in January 2021, bringing together young people working on many different issues and community concerns. You can watch some of these videos below.



Kāhuli Leo Leʻa

Kāhuli Leo Leʻa is a non-profit organization aimed at catalyzing aloha ʻāina through the education, composition, and presentation of mele and other cultural practices. They carry out their mission through the following pathways of mele excellence:

  • Waihona Mele—Preserving male as repositories of historical knowledge
  • Haku Mele—Promoting the value of haku mele (mele composition) excellence
  • Hōʻike Mele—Supporting venues of mele presentation and dissemination

As part of Why It Matters, Kāhuli Leo Leʻa is creating a series of videos featuring performances and interviews from diverse cultural traditions that inspire us to engage with aloha ʻāina—an Indigenous philosophy  of the commitment and care that comes from an integrated existence of both land and people.


Why It Matters aims to create spaces for true exchange and listening across our different viewpoints that will lead to continued productive discussion. The opinions expressed here do not represent those of Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, Federation of State Humanities Councils, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, or the National Endowment for the Humanities.