Helping People.Changing Lives

aka MEO   |   Kahului, HI   |


The Mission of MEO is to strengthen the community while helping people in need restore their hope, reach their potential and enrich their lives.

Ruling year info



Ms. Debbie A Cabebe

Main address

PO Box 2122

Kahului, HI 96733 USA

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NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

Transportation (Free or Subsidized) (P52)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (MEO) exists to address the problem of poverty and economic hardship in Maui County. Just over 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty,” and signed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (MEO) was chartered on March 22, 1965 under provisions of the Act. MEO is the only designated anti-poverty Community Action Agency (CAA) serving Maui County.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Youth Services

MEO Youth Services
Evidence-based education programs and activities for youth 11 to 18 years. Activities include substance abuse and alcohol use prevention, cyberbullying, youth suicide and life and career skills training, along with gender specific programming. Youth also participate in in-school and out-of- school service learning and leadership activities and projects focused on community involvement, acculturation development, and cultural awareness.

Prevention of Underage Drinking
Provides an evidence-based curriculum to 6th graders at Kalama Intermediate School. The program is peer-led providing a comprehensive educational and age appropriate curriculum for middle school students in their classrooms during school hours. Service-learning activities are conducted after school and during school breaks. The objective is to delay the age when youth begin drinking and to reduce use among youth who have consumed alcohol.

Place interns with host environmental or ecological oriented agencies and worksites offering hands-on training opportunities that may lead to future employment and education awards in the form of scholarships.

Population(s) Served

Early Childhood Services consists of three programs: Head Start, Kahi Kamali`i Infant and Toddler Center, and `Ohana Strengthening. Each program is designed to support families with young children.


The Head Start Program in Maui County has been part of Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) Inc. since it’s inception in 1965. MEO Head Start’s mission is to promote growth and change by empowering economically challenged, high-risk, and/or special needs preschool children and their families to better succeed in life.

The MEO Head Start Program has 13 centers on Maui, 2 centers on Moloka’i, and a partnership on the island of Lana’i. MEO Head Start offers both full and part-day center options.

MEO Head Start believes in a comprehensive approach to support the child and family. Services provided include health services, oral health, nutrition, social services, early childhood education, special needs services (coordinated with the Department of Education), family involvement and training, mental health and transition. Parents are highly involved in shared decision making within the program, including curriculum, program development and individualized goals for their child. We regard parents as their child’s first teacher and work in close partnership with the family.


MEO Head Start is a federally funded program, with additional funds from Maui County and the State of Hawai’i. Priority is given to families who are low income and have children with special needs or disabilities.

Kahi Kamali’i is designed to be a place where children can grow and develop in a supportive, safe, nurturing environment. Young children are valued and respected as individuals, highly capable of exploring while learning new skills each and every day. Parents are regarded as the child’s first teacher, making the family unit unique and significant to our program. We believe that young children learn best in an environment that provides safety along with encouragement, security and responsive caregivers.

Kahi Kamali’i Infant/Toddler Center is a joint partnership between Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. and the J. Walter Cameron Center. The program offers childcare services for children 12 months to 3 years of age. Space is available for up to 20 children in a beautiful facility which offers separate space for young children to explore their surroundings. Children with diagnosed specials needs are welcomed to the program and are provided with services based on their individual needs. Plans will be developed by the parents, staff and other providers involved in the child’s care. Tuition assistance may be available for qualifying families. Parent conferences, meetings and trainings are also part of the program, allowing ample opportunity for communication between family and staff.

Kahi Kamali’i Infant and Toddler Center is a partnership effort with the J. Walter Cameron Center which obtained funding to build the facility. MEO provides the operational aspect of the center, providing staff and program management. Together, the Cameron Center and MEO agencies connect collaboratively on several activities throughout the year.


The `Ohana Strengthening project is a partnership between the County of Maui, Maui Economic Opportunity and the Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC) in Wailuku, Maui.

The focus of `Ohana Strengthening is family strengthening through early intervention. The program works with incarcerated women to provide parent education including information on child development and developing strong parenting skills, tools and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, as well as substance abuse.
Services include parenting classes provided at MCCC, parent child interaction time, and caregiver support groups. Women and their children celebrate together twice annually at a special “`Ohana Day”, scheduled in May and December to commemorate Mother’s Day and Christmas

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers

Provides a variety of services:


Provide case management and supportive services, training and employment to increase opportunities for the successful reintegration after incarceration while promoting public safety.


Assist the Hispanic/Latino population achieve self-reliance by providing them with education, outreach, intervention, referrals, translation, immigration and other direct services


Assist senior citizen clubs with organizing, recruitment and membership enrollment, advocacy, education and social activities and events.


Provide training and employment assistance for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families to attain economic stability.


A community service and work based training program for older workers. Authorized by the Older Americans Act, provides subsidized, service-based training for low-income persons 55 or older who are unemployed and have poor employment prospects. Placement into long term employment.


Prevention of homelessness; help families and heads of households find shelter or maintain their current dwelling and/or assist with utility assistance. Provide first month’s deposit and rental subsidy up to six (6) months assistance at declining amounts to achieve stability.


Assist individuals with disabilities, and families of individuals with disabilities, identify community resources and navigate the education and medical systems to remove barriers and empower them to be fully engaged in all aspects of life.


Assist dislocated Mycogen workers on the island of Molokai remove barriers and minimize stress related to the economic impact of employment loss.


MEO solicits merchants to participate in this program which offers senior citizens 60 years of age or older discounts on food and merchandise when using the MEO Red Card


Financial literacy classes for low income individuals and youth to assist them with managing their finances.


A Federal program that provides energy assistance. Low income Maui County residents can qualify for one of two programs: Gas or electric bill payment assistance - an energy credit given to households who are experiencing difficulty paying their gas or electric bills; Energy Crisis Intervention- financial assistance given to households whose electricity is off or will be shut off.


This is a supplemental program that provides emergency assistance to low income individuals to restore or prevent termination of electric or gas service.


Enables low-income families to permanently reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.


Assists low-income individuals sixty and older, who have income at or below the 125% poverty level achieve economic security through supportive services to include subsidies for hearing aids, glasses, scooters and dental work.


Provides low-income seniors with eligible fresh produce with the goal of improving their health and nutritional status. Each SFMNP participant will receive a book of coupons worth $50 to exchange for fresh, nutrition and unprocessed locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey from an authorized farmer, farmers market or roadside stand (outlet).


Pro bono legal services are available for simple wills or living trusts (no probate), or deeds (to change name on real property), advance care directives and other simple legal matters. Attorney Brad Ing (Ing and Associates) offers his service monthly.

Population(s) Served

MEO transportation services provided via County of Maui grant appropriation:

Kaunoa Leisure Program

Senior Nutrition Program

Ka Lima O Maui Program

Employment for the Disabled, Low-income and Economically Challenged

Rural Shuttle

Youth Transportation (Maui & Moloka’i)

Easter Seals & Adult Day Care

Youth Transportation

Ala Hou Transportation

Dialysis Transportation

Paratransit Services

Transit provider for Maui County – Emergency Operation Center

Population(s) Served


Promote economic self-sufficiency through micro enterprise lending and training/technical assistance. Provide loans to assist low and moderate-income entrepreneurs start and/or expand a small business. Provide a 36-hour business planning course that focuses on the writing of a business plan, and eight, three-hour Be Strategic workshops for existing businesses to prepare for growth in their business, with a Strategic Business Plan. Other technical assistance includes credit assessment and business consulting for BDC micro loan borrowers and micro loan applicants.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

MEO's mission is to strengthen the community while helping people in need restore their hope, reach their potential, and enrich their lives. MEO dedicates itself to eliminating poverty by providing tools for living, earning, self-reliance, and community involvement, with programs designed under the major goal of self-sufficiency; each of these services responds to the most salient needs expressed by the community.

MEO conducts a comprehensive community wide needs assessment every three years. The assessment is used to create a Community Action Plan and assist the CEO and Board of Directors develop a strategic plan. The assessment identifies gaps in services and unmet community needs. If there is no other organization meeting those needs or filling those gaps, MEO develops programs and secures local funding to meet the need.

The Community Services Block Grant supplies core funding for CAAs. It is unique and flexible, and primarily funds local investments in services, facilities and partnerships which are particular to the CAA’s home community.
CAAs are located in the areas of greatest need, managed and staffed by community residents. When a family or an individual faces a crisis, their CAA is able to respond quickly with targeted forms of assistance appropriate to the situation; these may well include the mobilization of help from many of the CAA's private sector partners, volunteers, and faith-based groups.

MEO provides tools to help people and change lives through five departments: MEO Business Development Center, Community Services, Early Childhood Services, Transportation Services and Youth Services.
· COMMUNITY SERVICES offers a wide array of services including rental subsidy, employment training and job placement, acculturation, weatherization and energy assistance, senior club coordination, prisoner reintegration, and more.
· EARLY CHILDHOOD SERVICES provides quality infant care and early childhood education, offering a Head Start toward a better education and life.
· MEO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER assists small business entrepreneurs with training, credit assessment, technical assistance support, and microloans for startup and expansion.
· TRANSPORTATION provides rides for low income individuals, seniors, youth and persons with disabilities to and from medical appointments, work, school, adult day care, and rural shopping, and provides curb to curb rides for persons with disabilities eligible for paratransit service.
· YOUTH SERVICES offers evidence-based education programs and activities for middle and high school aged youth including substance and alcohol abuse and teen suicide prevention, cyber bullying, life and career skills training, and gender specific programming. Youth also participate in out of school service learning and leadership activities and community involvement, acculturation development, and cultural awareness projects.

MEO has been "Helping people. Changing lives" for 54 years and is an articulate advocate for those whose voices are often not heard. MEO works in concert with the resident, public and private sector, providing services to over 19,600 individuals and families, touching more than 58,000 lives throughout Maui County and the State of Hawai'i.

In this fiscal year alone, MEO served 265 children and families in its Head Start program; 554 entrepreneurs received training and technical assistance under MEO Business Development Center and 65 jobs were created or retained; 1,600 individuals reduced their energy burden; 166 individuals maintained safe and affordable housing; 1,077 seniors increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables; 7, 921 individuals increased mobility and improved their quality of life; 2,190 seniors and individuals with disabilities maintained an independent living situation; and 942 youth avoided risk taking behaviors.

As the only Community Action Agency in Maui County, MEO is often the go to organization when the County needs assistance with a project. Often these projects are outside the scope of MEO’s funded services, but every effort is made to assist and to be good community partners. Community needs and strategic planning will provide the road-map as MEO continues helping people. Changing lives.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 03/17/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Ms. Carol Reimann

Represents Alexander & Baldwin

Term: 2021 - 2024

Board co-chair

Mr. Bard Peterson

Represents State Representative Justin Woodson

Term: 2021 - 2024

Charles Andrion


Clifford B. Alakai

State House Rep Troy Hashimotoi

Frank De Rego Jr.

Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber

Cynthia Llalo

Mayor Richard Bissen

Traci Fujita

Maui County Council

Desiree Ting

Central Pacific Bank

Mercer "Chubby" Vicens


Sandy Ryan

Maui Economic Development Board

Gemma Medina

Hawaii Assn for the Education of Young Children

Peter Horovitz

Maui Bar Association

Scott Okada

State House Angus McKelvey

Glenn Yamasaki

State House Rep Kyle Yamashita

Ned Davis

Senator Lynne De Coite

Bard Peterson

State House Rep Justin Woodson

Elizabeth Dela Cruz

Head Start Policy Council

Tessie Segui

Kahului Seniors

Arlene Gerbig

West Maui Seniors

Adele Rugg

South Maui Seniors

Dawn Bicoy

Molokai Filipino Council

Gabe Johnson

Lanai Kupuna Council

Reuben Ignacio

Hale Mahaolu

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/17/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/17/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.