Featured Initiative

Fresh Water Initiative

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, it’s easy for those of us in Hawaii to appreciate that water covers 70% of Earth’s surface. Harder to fathom is the fact that only three percent of the earth’s water is fresh, and less than one percent supports all life on land.

The stark difference between “wet” and “dry” sides of our Islands has made water management pivotal in Hawaii’s history. Add to that a decrease of rainfall of 18 percent over the last 30 years; a population that has doubled since 1959; record levels of visitors; the reality that half of Hawaii’s watershed forests have been destroyed … and the result is a potential fresh water crisis.

Against this uncertain backdrop, HCF created the Fresh Water Initiative in 2013. “HCF continuously looks for innovative approaches to really complex problems,” said Josh Stanbro, Program Director of Environment & Sustainability at HCF. “Fresh water is at the center of our economy and ecology, we just thought it was too important to cross fingers and hope for the best.”

HCF invited stakeholders from all sides of the issue—agriculture, private landowners, scientists, and government officials—to convene as a Fresh Water Council (Council).

“HCF asked us to do something different. We were tasked to come up with collective recommendations for improving our shared water supply, even though many members came from opposing sides regarding use.”—Tim Johns, Council Chair

The result? A Blueprint for Action with a goal of providing 100 million gallons a day of additional reliable fresh water supply by 2030 via clear solutions that have broad, multi-party support. “I’ve got to admit, I had my doubts,” said Council member Sumner Erdman. “But HCF provided the space and structure to get to know one another, find common ground and ultimately come to agreement.”

Unlike many Blue Ribbon Panels that disband after issuing their report, members of the Council have agreed to continue working together to help implement the recommendations.

Water, as we know, is essential to life. And collaboration, we’ve found, is essential to protecting our quality of life in Hawaii.

40+ million gallons per day by 2030

Improve the efficiency of our underground fresh water use.

30+ million gallons per day by 2030

Improve storm water capture and protect more watershed areas.

30+ million gallons per day by 2030

Double the amount of wastewater being reused in the Islands.

Nonprofit Excellence

We believe that a vibrant and healthy community is a result of effective nonprofit organizations. Over the past 10 years, HCF invested more than $14 million in nonprofits across the state through grants, technical assistance and leadership development programs. Everything learned has culminated in HCF’s Nonprofit Excellence Initiative, supporting high-performing organizations that are able to deliver meaningful, measurable and sustainable results over a prolonged period of time.

The Nonprofit Excellence Initiative includes:


The conference engages board members and executive directors serving nonprofits across the state. The conference focuses on providing training, resources and dialogue on how to become a high-performing organization.


The FLEX Grants program launched in 2013 as a partnership of multiple funds to provide high-performing organizations in Hawaii with a source of flexible, unrestricted support that enables them to prioritize their own needs and enhance their effectiveness. In 2014, FLEX awarded $4.2 million to 168 high-performing nonprofits from 39 Advisory Committee, Donor Advised and Discretionary Funds.


Established in 2002 in partnership with The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the award recognizes outstanding leaders in Hawaii’s nonprofit sector.

2014 Hookele Award Winners (L-R):

Suzanne Case, executive director, Hawaii Program, The Nature Conservancy, Nanci Kreidman, M.A., chief executive officer and co-founder, Domestic Violence Action Center, Howard S. Garval, president and chief executive officer, Child & Family Service, Nola A. Nahulu, artistic director, Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus

Hawaii Technology Transformation Program

In 2011, with the support of the Omidyar Ohana Fund, HCF formed a partnership with the State of Hawaii to transform how government does business with and for Hawaii’s citizens. This large-scale 12-year initiative assists in the effective, efficient and convenient delivery of programs and services to the public through business transformation and information technology modernization.

Pathways to Resilient Communities

This initiative builds on the successful model of a previous funders collaborative, Hawaii Community Stabilization Initiative, which leveraged $4 million from 12 funders to help families and individuals access more than $23 million in services and benefits during the Great Recession in 2008. Pathways to Resilient Communities is a $12 million initiative supported by 15 funders focused on helping vulnerable populations in three areas – helping kupuna in need, families facing homelessness and high-need middle school students.


In 2014, HCF launched a three-year, $4 million, HousingASAP program designed to move more homeless families into stable housing faster, and keep them there. A group of eight nonprofits that are family homeless service providers were selected to participate in a network that will provide support and training on organizational effectiveness, building capacity, forming partnerships, and developing leadership.

Seated (L-R): Rona Fukumoto (Catholic Charities Hawaii), Connie Mitchell (IHS), Brandee Menino (HOPE Services), Maude Cumming (Family Life Center), Tammy Rodrigues (Family Life Center).

Standing (L-R): Jason Espero (Waikiki Health), Mary Saunders (Family Promise Hawaii), Jeremy McComber (HOPE Services), Tina Andrade (Catholic Charities Hawaii), Gladys Peraro (US VETS), Sheila Beckham (Waikiki Health), Christy MacPherson (Family Promise Hawaii), Thomas McDonald (Kahumana Community), Ana Piloton (Kahumana Community), Minda Golez (IHS), Darryl Vincent (US VETS).​

Featured Initiative

Connecting for Success

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi described middle school as “a time when kids’ values start coming together and they begin to think about the future ... exactly when we want to capture them.”

Many others—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—have also made the link between helping struggling youth ages 12-14 feel more connected to school and increasing the likelihood that they will graduate from high school on time and make healthier lifestyle choices going forward.

“The Hawaii Community Foundation recognized the window of opportunity to intervene with vulnerable middle school students and the benefits of getting them back on track,” said Tammi Chun, HCF VP of Programs. So, too, did a group of 15 funders who HCF brought together to form Connecting for Success. Over three years, the program’s goal is to reach 1,500 high-need students with direct services and benefit 10,000 students in participating schools.

The following funders and donors have committed support for the Connecting for Success program for three years with $8.1 million in funding:

Without intervention, over 7,000 of this year’s Hawaii’s students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades will not graduate from high school on time.

Grantees—10 middle schools and five nonprofit community partners—use real-time data on student attendance, behavior and grades using the DOE’s Early Warning System to flag students who are falling off-track.

Half of the 10 middle schools across the state that are receiving grants are paired with a community partner to further connect students to caring adults, both in and out of the classroom.

Grantees from participating schools also meet monthly—either electronically or in person—during the school year as a Community of Learners to exchange lessons learned and participate in professional development. “It’s a chance to accelerate everyone’s learning about what works and make adjustments quickly when they’re needed,” explains Chun.

In its first year, the results show that the program is moving in the right direction:

  • 87% of participating students report positive experiences with the program and being more connected to school
  • 89% of participating students passed all core classes at the end of the year

During the 2014-15 grant year, the goal is to improve student attendance which research shows to be a critical predictor of school success. The longer-term goal is to replicate strategies that prove to be effective across Hawaii’s statewide school system.

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi sees the partnership as synergistic: “Connecting for Success is a good example of the philanthropic community coming together to support the strategic initiatives of the DOE,” she said.

Clearly, in connecting students to school, there are all kinds of connections being strengthened, and the results of collaborating are beginning to show.