MA’O Organic Farms

Health impacts persist across time and extend to the broader community

MA’O Organic Farms never set out to be a health organization. Their theory of change posits that youth can be empowered to grow into powerful agents of change, who create tangible examples of the possible for each other, their families, and their communities, thereby laying the foundation for intergenerational transformational change.

HI‘A worked with MA‘O to co-design an evaluation of their cornerstone Youth Leadership Training (YLT) program—a 2-year internship for youth 17-24 years old who attend college and work on the farm. The evaluation included both clinical and behavioral measures: focus groups, an online questionnaire, one-one-one interviews, biospecimen samples, and comparison to HI‘A’s proprietary databases of individuals in Wai‘anae and the state.

Data from the study demonstrated that MA‘O’s Youth Leadership Training has an astounding health and economic impact on both participants and the community at large. We were able to prove that empowering youth by connecting them to ‘aina and community leads to tangible impacts on health outcomes—a 60 percent reduction in diabetes risk. Using a social network analysis, we were able to prove that these impacts spread beyond youth participants, to include their friends and family, for a direct medical cost savings of over $120 thousand dollars annually.

To learn more, please visit the study website and report at

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