Strengthening Hawaii's Communities

Strengthening Hawaii's Communities
Education & Youth Development

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Focusing on youth and education has a ripple effect on the entire community.


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HCF funding partners helped established the nation’s first statewide student news network as an elective course in 86 of Hawaii's public, private and charter schools.


Scholarships for Students on Molokai

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Longtime Molokai residents Teruo and Adeline Ogawa worked at Kalaupapa Settlement and wanted to help youth on the island prepare for and attend college.

The remote Kalaupapa Peninsula on the island of Molokai was once a place where many Hawaiians afflicted with Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) were sent to live. Though now a National Historical Park, it is a place where suffering, as well as kindness, took place.

Teruo and Adeline Ogawa lived on Molokai for more than 40 years, and both worked for the state at Kalaupapa Settlement; he was a carpenter foreman and she was a house supervisor. Over the years, they developed a love for the residents in the isolated community and witnessed the hardships that the children faced. The Ogawa’s dream was to provide a way to give those children the chance to pursue a college education, especially since neither Teruo nor Adeline had ever had the means to do so.

With their nephew Edward Nakagawa and attorney Stephen Reese, two funds were established at the Hawaii Community Foundation in their memory. Because the Ogawas valued education, and understood that preparation for college begins in advance, one program was established to help youth on the island prepare for college, called the Teruo and Adeline K. Ogawa Molokai Education Fund. The other fund provides scholarships to help Molokai students attend college. “My aunt and uncle believed in continually learning and setting goals to work toward,” said Nakagawa. “The scholarship fund and the education fund are great ways to honor two people who were of Molokai, and for Molokai.”


A Circle of Giving on Kauai

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A one-time HCF scholarship recipient from Kauai created a fund to help other deserving students pursue a quality education.

Benjie Baclig’s parents were hoping for a better life when they moved the family 5,000 miles from the Philippines to Kauai. Benjie grew up in the rural town of Kaumakani with his three siblings; their father labored on a sugar-cane plantation and their mother worked as a hotel housekeeper.

A better life is what Benjie wanted for himself, as well. He worked, chipped in toward household expenses, and became a straight-A valedictorian and class president at Waimea High School. His dream of being the first in his family to go to college and his aim for an Ivy League business school might have remained a dream were it not for scholarships. One of the HCF scholarships that enabled Benjie to attend The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was started by another aspiring individual from Kauai.

Wayne Rapozo, who grew up in a plantation town in west Kauai and now practices international law in London, was himself a Hawaii Community Foundation scholarship recipient many years ago. Wayne never lost his commitment to give back to the place and people that helped to shape him: “Each student makes a difference to the community as a whole, and each success story will remind the next generation that they can and should make a difference.”

It’s a virtuous cycle that Benjie Baclig carries with him, along with the hopes and dreams of every teacher, every parent, and every funder who knows the exponential value of securing a quality education. Where that education takes him includes the chance, as Benjie told Wayne, “to help others just like you did.”


Royal School

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The Cyril Smith Royal School Fund initially provided milk to students from low-income families. Oahu’s first school was initially for the children of Hawaiian royalty.

Founded in 1839 during the reign of King Kamehameha III, Oahu's first school, originally called the Chief’s Children’s School, has had a proud past. In 1846 the name was officially changed to Royal School and attendance was restricted to descendants of the royal line and heirs of the chiefs. In 1850, a second school was built on the site of the present Royal School; it was opened to the general public in 1851.

In honor of a past principal of the Royal School, the Cyril Smith Royal School Fund was established at the Hawaii Community Foundation in 1944, originally to provide milk to low-income families. When the federal government began subsidizing school milk, the fund began paying for field trip transportation costs for Royal School students.


Pillars of Peace Hawaii

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Begun as a series of visits to Hawaii by prominent peace leaders, the program is also focused on building compassion and mindfulness in youth.

Pillars of Peace Hawaii is sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation through a lead grant from the Omidyar Ohana Fund. It was launched in 2012 with the aim of inspiring people—from keiki (children) to kupuna (elders)—to cultivate compassion, mindfulness and justice in their daily lives and better understand the roles of diversity and culture in the practice of peace.



Schools of the Future

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This initiative seeks to transform teaching and learning to equip Hawaii graduates with 21st century skills.

The impetus for Schools of the Future (SOTF) was based on the realization that future graduates need to have different skills to succeed in the 21st century. Among them, the ability to think critically, communicate well, be creative, and work collaboratively.

SOTF, an initiative of the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, distributed $5 million in grants between 2009 and 2014 to transform teaching and learning in a cohort of schools in Hawaii. The schools and teachers have emerged as role models for transforming instructional practices, capturing local and national attention for changes that have been made.

As part of the program, participating teachers and schools developed a number of tools that they have collected and shared. The learning continues for teachers and school administrators throughout Hawaii in an open Google Community. And the 7th Annual Schools of the Future Conference—open to public, private, parochial and charter school educators, as well as parents and students, business and community members—was an opportunity to share best practices with the 1,500 attendees.

One of the most valuable outcomes of this initiative is a better understanding of what it takes to affect school change. Given the rapid pace of change in modern day life, schools need to be among the most nimble, rather than the most entrenched, institutions in society. HCF is proud to have been a part of this successful initiative, and hopes to see the ripple effect of having invested in 21st century education.


Miura Family

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Sara Miura carries on the family business and its legacy of giving by creating the Rise Up Scholarship Fund to benefit Kauai students pursuing college.

While growing up on Kauai, Sara Miura didn’t plan on joining her family’s business. She went away to college and majored in elementary education, but soon realized that her calling was closer to home. And she recognized something else about herself: “I knew that my future was going to include philanthropy; I just didn’t know how.” Sara comes from a family of givers. Her grandparents created a charitable fund at HCF, and Sara's sister, Joy is a member of HCF's Neighbor Island Leadership Council. 

Today, Sara is director of sales and marketing at Deja Vu Surf Hawaii, an outgrowth of the M. Miura store that her great-great-grandfather started as a candy shop in Kapaa in 1909. She is also the creator of the Rise Up Scholarship Fund, established to benefit Kauai students pursuing college, especially those whose parents are divorced.

Understanding Sara’s philanthropic goals, the Hawaii Community Foundation was able to provide the support she needed. “HCF made it so easy. They helped me bring my vision to fruition and taught me that the power of a gift is not affected by its amount.”

Sara was so intent to get the fund off to a strong start and to assist more than one student, she took on a part-time job as a server in a Japanese restaurant in addition to working full-time. Thanks to her perseverance and vision, two graduates of Kauai High School are getting support to pursue their academic dreams.

“I’m excited to see what contributions they make during their lives,” said Sara, who is as inspired by the students as they, and all of us, are by her.


Scholarship Program

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HCF’s program consists of over 200 different scholarships and helps nearly 1,500 students each year.

The Hawaii Community Foundation understands the great impact of education and supports as many of Hawaii’s students in reaching their goals as possible. There has been an increase in the number of those in Hawaii seeking scholarships, including nontraditional students who are juggling families and jobs as they pursue their educational goals. Exacerbating the situation, the cost of a college degree has more than doubled in the last ten years and continues to climb.

HCF's scholarship program consists of over 200 different scholarships established by generous individuals, businesses, organizations, and private foundations. Last year, nearly 1,500 students across the state received over $4.5 million in scholarships, making the Hawaii Community Foundation the third largest scholarship provider in Hawaii.

HCF was the first community foundation in the nation to make scholarship applications available online. By completing one online application, students are matched to multiple scholarship opportunities and may be eligible to receive more than one award.

There are several ways to help deserving Hawaii students succeed:

Contribute to the HCF Community Scholarship Fund This pooled fund was established in 1947 and is supported by many donors; it awards scholarships to students who are the first in their families to attend college or have other unique educational circumstances.

Establish a new fund at HCF
The donor selects the name and focus of the fund, whether a particular geographic area, an under-represented segment of Hawaii's population, a particular field or profession, a specific company, or designated institution. Each scholarship has its own decision-making committee that makes recommendations based upon the purpose and specific criteria of each fund as established by its donor. HCF processes the application materials for these committees.

Donors can also make a contribution to an existing HCF fund of their choice.


Preschool Tuition Assistance

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The Preschool Tuition Assistance Pilot Program began in 2001 as a partnership between the Samuel and Mary Castle Foundation and the Hawaii Community Foundation with the Atherton Family Foundation joining the effort in 2003.


Youth Matters - Ready Set Grow

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This free career and college readiness program provides customized training in reading, writing, computer and math, to help students prepare for college study and ultimately earn a better wage.


Ke Ala Hoku, Youth Grantmaking Program

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HCF and the Wilson P. Canon Fund convened an advisory board of youth, ages 15-18 from across the state, to advise on grants for organizations promoting volunteerism.


Artists in the Schools

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This program helps to integrate arts into core curriculum areas and includes a collaborative residency.

Arts and culture play a significant role in the community in Hawaii and grants awarded every year from funds at HCF reflect this. The Artists in the Schools program simultaneously supports artists and education by bringing the two together for the benefit of students in Hawaii’s public and charter schools.

The idea behind Artists in the Schools—of which a Collaborative Residency is a part—is that artists and teachers engage in professional development and in co-planning ways to weave art into a curriculum that meets DOE-mandated standards. As a result, students gain greater access to arts education, arts are more fully integrated into the regular classroom, and teachers’ capacity to teach the existing curriculum as well as the arts is increased. Many of the artists integrate their art form with other core curriculum areas, such as language arts, math, social studies, and science, meeting both Fine Arts and other core standards.

The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (HSFCA) administers the Artists in the Schools (AITS) program. The Hawaii Community Foundation matches HSFCA/AITS funds to increase the amount available to schools, totaling over $1.5 million since 2008-2009. In the 2014-2015 school year, 91 schools received grants.

All public schools, including charter schools, are eligible to apply to the HSFCA for grants of up to $6,000 per school for artist residencies. Schools must use a teaching artist from the HSFCA’s Artistic Teaching Partners Roster. A residency consists of 5-8 or more sessions by the artist with the same students.

The AITS Program provides an engaging, creative and fun learning experience and has been very well received by all of those involved: students, teachers, and artists alike.


School Beautification Awards

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Through the Cooke Foundation, projects that improve the appearance and ambiance of Hawaii public schools are honored.

The Cooke Foundation, one of HCF’s private foundation clients, established an award in 2008 to recognize exemplary completed projects that enhance the overall appearance and ambiance of Hawai‘i public schools. The inaugural recipients were S.W. King Intermediate School on Oahu, Lahainaluna High School on Maui, and Innovations Public Charter School on Hawaii Island.

“A beautiful environment at school is conducive to learning and encourages respect for one’s school, respect for others, and respect for oneself,” said Lynne Johnson, Cooke Foundation Vice President and Trustee. “Maintaining such an environment nurtures a sense of community and develops school pride.”

Specific criteria required for public school candidates include student/parent/faculty/staff participation in the projects; significant improvement in the appearance of the school through landscaping or artwork; and a maintenance plan that involves the school community or outside organizations.


Waialeale Project: College for Non-College Bound Students

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Launched at Kauai Community College, this program provides academic and other forms of support to students who wouldn’t normally attend college.

Studies show that on average, a student attending at least one year of college earns 30% more income, is 29% less likely to be unemployed, and lives seven years longer. “Just look at the statistics; we can’t afford not to invest in that extra year of schooling,” said Jim Lally, whose vision and seed funding through the Jim and Lynn Lally Family Fund at HCF helped to launch the Waialeale Project at Kauai Community College in 2010. The Waialeale Project provides academic support through tutoring, mentoring, summer college-readiness programs and ongoing academic support to students who wouldn’t normally attend college.

If students make it through the first year successfully, the chances that they will persist improve considerably. And the long-term impact of attending some college is significant enough to get the attention of community colleges across Hawaii. What started as being solely funded by the Lally family is now part of a statewide “13th Year Initiative” that’s being funded by community partners at four of seven community colleges in Hawaii. In 2012, the King William Charles Lunalilo Scholars Project was started at Kapiolani Community College with funding from the Kaneta Foundation. In 2013, Windward Community College founded the Paipai o Koolau scholarship program with the generous support of the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation.

Most recently, with help from HCF’s Kukio Community Fund, West Hawaii’s new Hawaii Community College at Palamanui launched the Elama Project to support non college-bound high school students and adults with academic counseling, peer mentoring, college readiness workshops, assistance navigating daily transportation or childcare, and full tuition. The program will scale up each year with the goal of 300 participants by 2019.


Hawaii Youth Opportunities Initiative

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Public and private partners came together to help youth aging out of foster care.

Many children in Hawaii come into the foster care system through no fault of their own; but at age 18 their services end abruptly and they have to fend for themselves, often without any of the resources or connections necessary to secure and maintain housing, education, employment, adequate health care or financial stability.Thankfully, the outlook for thousands of foster youth in Hawaii began to improve with the 2010 launching of the Hawaii Youth Opportunities Initiative (HYOI).

Initial funding was provided by the Victoria and Bradley Geist Foundation, the Atherton Family Foundation, the McInerny Foundation, and the Hawaii Community Foundation, working with the Bank of Hawaii. HYOI partnered with the national Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative as well as with local funders to increase opportunities for this population of young people, and to improve policies and practices on their behalf. EPIC Ohana, Inc. has worked with the Department of Human Services and others to implement the initiative in Hawaii.

Through HYOI, hundreds of young people have received financial literacy training and opened new bank accounts that allow them to receive a 1:1 match for key purchases. Life-altering assets such as a car, computer for college, and stable housing can more than double their chances of getting a full-time job.

On a policy level, advocates were able to secure medical coverage for foster youth to age 26. And HYOI’s work with the Department of Human Services, Family Court, and foster youth themselves helped to gain the passage of legislation to extend voluntary foster care until age 21.

Young people transitioning from foster care into adulthood have the same aspirations for success in life as their more fortunate peers. With the help of public and private partners, they are finally gaining access to the kinds of opportunities that enable them to have big dreams, and to reach them.



Public and private partners came together to help youth aging out of foster care.