Strengthening Hawaii's Communities

Hawaii Community Foundation
Our First 100 Years

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Charitable giving decisions reflect the values of individuals and families and their passion to make a meaningful difference.

Kent and Polli Smith

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Three generations of the Smith family serve as advisors to the family fund, which has helped more 100 organizations on Maui.

In the process of helping more than 100 organizations, Kent and Polli Smith have created a multi-generational legacy that has changed the lives of many on Maui … including their own.

Finding ways to help is characteristic of Kent and Polli Smith, and an attribute they most closely associate with their son, Ian, who died tragically in a snowboarding accident in 2004. “Giving helps us deal with his passing,” Kent explains. The Smiths created the Ian Doane Memorial Scholarship Fund at HCF, which provides two scholarships to high school seniors who contribute to the community, excel academically, and are interested in sports.

Through a family fund on which daughter Tiffany and granddaughter Ali now serve as advisors, the Smith’s generosity has helped many.

Among them are the students of Paia Elementary School. For a long time, its water fountains were broken and the aging school had no water filtration system. Recognizing that an onsite filtration and purification system would give the students easy access to clean water, Kent Smith got to work collaborating with the PTSA and the Department of Education to set up and fund a reverse osmosis system in the cafeteria – enabling the school to bottle its own water.

Not only are the children excited about filling up their water bottles from the jug that sits in each of the classrooms, they now understand how water gets filtered and why it’s so much healthier to drink than soda. But the real impact of the Smith’s generosity is not limited to these children or to the many on Maui who have received their support. For granddaughter Ali Hoeck, who serves as advisor on the family’s fund, “Knowing you have made a difference in someone’s life is one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve ever felt.”


Kosasa Family

A family of four, two seated and two standing, smile together.
Front row (L to R): Minnie Kosasa, Paul Kosasa. Back row (L to R): Lindsay Kosasa, Lisa Kosasa

This family’s multi-generational legacy of giving has benefited many causes in Hawaii.

Sydney Kosasa was the son of first-generation Japanese immigrants. His experiences in retail began early, when he worked for his parents' grocery store. The McKinley High School graduate would go on to the University of California at Berkeley to receive a pharmacist's degree before being interred in northern California. He ultimately returned to Hawaii and in 1949, with his wife Minnie, opened a drug store in Kaimuki, and later launched the first ABC Store in 1964.

Today, ABC Stores are ubiquitous, filling a niche as an all-purpose convenience shop catering to tourists. There are ABC Stores in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Las Vegas. Sydney Kosasa’s accomplishments are numerous, and his legacy of philanthropy lives on in the generosity of his children and grandchildren. Minnie and the late Sydney Kosasa won the 2013 National Philanthropy Day Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Aloha Chapter.

Son Paul Kosasa is President and CEO of ABC stores and served for nearly two decades on HCF’s Board of Governors, including as its Chair. Many nonprofits and causes in Hawaii benefit from the seven funds the Kosasa family established at HCF. One of the ways Paul Kosasa and his family decided to invest in Hawaii’s future was to become a funding partner on several large-scale initiatives like HousingASAP and Connecting for Success.

Whether it’s a small grant that makes a big difference to one family, or a pool of funds being leveraged to improve community outcomes, Paul Kosasa is carrying on the proud legacy of his parents to make the community a better place … and he’s inspiring others along the way.


Hawaii Five-O Giving Legacy

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Robin Freeman Bernstein, Lisa Freeman, Susan Freeman Mann

Contributions from those associated with the beloved television series continue to benefit Hawaii.

In 1968, Hawai‘i 5-0 first aired and ran for 12 seasons. Actor Jack Lord, who played Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, and his wife Marie, decided to call Oahu home after Hawaii 5-0 went off the air, and they became generous contributors to many worthy causes in Hawaii. Throughout their lives, they used their platform in the media to raise awareness and funds for charitable organizations across the Islands, many of which continue to benefit from the Jack and Marie Lord Fund.

The Hawaii 5-0 legacy of giving continues. The staying power of the show—which has gone on to produce more than 100 episodes since its 2010 remake—is due in part to the starring role of the Islands. Creator Leonard Freeman was responsible for the series being filmed here, a place that holds many memories for Leonard’s wife Rose Freeman and their three daughters Robin, Susan and Lisa, who lived in Hawaii part-time when the show was being filmed.

When looking for a way to honor their parents and give back to the community that meant so much to them, the Freeman sisters asked their close friend Emme Tomimbang for advice. The result of Emme’s friendship and advice to the Freeman sisters is the Leonard and Rose Freeman Family Fund at HCF.

The siblings describe it as “our way of keeping our parents close to us and honoring their hard work, their devotion to each other, to us, and to the islands they loved.” The fund benefits local nonprofit organizations and artists, a cause that’s important to the family: “Every artist needs to have a foundation so they can discover their own process without the constant stress and trauma of financial concerns. This fund enables real art to germinate from the heart.”


Robert E. Black

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This endowment accelerated HCF’s reorganization and has benefited multiple nonprofit organizations in Hawaii, some of them in perpetuity.

Robert E. Black was the son of real-estate developer E.E. Black and left more than $60M to HCF in 1987. His endowment accelerated the Hawaiian Foundation’s reorganization into the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Robert Black was born in Hawaii, earned his college degree in engineering, enlisted in the military during World War II, and then joined his father’s company, EE Black Ltd. When he became Chairman and CEO, Mr. Black helped the company expand operations throughout the Pacific and develop it into one of Hawaii’s largest and most successful construction firms.

As a long-time distribution committee member of the Hawaii Community Foundation, Bob Black noted the effectiveness and efficiency of having a public foundation do the work of a hundred smaller funds. As a result, he directed that nearly all of his estate be made a supporting organization upon his death, naming HCF as the recipient.

Grants from the fund he created are part of the largest discretionary endowment bequeathed to HCF. Because of his extremely generous gift, ten nonprofit organizations receive income in perpetuity. Additionally, HCF’s Board of Governors uses the remaining funds to support arts and culture institutions, health institutions, and private education institutions. On Mr. Black’s behalf, thousands of grants have gone to hundreds of organizations including Hawaii Island YMCA, Polynesian Voyaging Society, Pacificare and Punahou School. There is also an EE Black Scholarship fund at HCF.


Annie Sinclair Knudsen Fund

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Established by Ruth Knudsen Hanner in honor of her grandmother, this fund benefits the people and environment of Kauai.

Ruth Knudsen Hanner felt blessed to have grown up in Waiawa, Kauai. She fondly recalled thinking that the island’s stunning beauty was her personal playground. Her grandmother, Annie Sinclair Knudsen, who came to Hawaii in 1863, instilled in Ruth a love for Kauai.

Trained as a teacher, Annie moved to Kauai, became a social worker, and established the first social services for Garden Isle residents. She was particularly devoted to the needs of native Hawaiians.

Ruth greatly admired her grandmother’s work and wanted to permanently memorialize their shared love for Kauai. Through the Hawaii Community Foundation, she established the Annie Sinclair Knudsen Fund in 1987, knowing the endowment would serve the island’s needs in perpetuity. Since then, numerous community-based nonprofit projects have come to fruition—all for the benefit of Kauai’s people.

Ruth, however, wasn’t finished giving back. When she passed away in 1995, she bequeathed a generous gift to the Knudsen Fund, which continues to serve the interests of Kauai, its people and its environment … just as her grandmother would have wanted.


Daniel K. Inouye

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A memorial fund and an institute fund were set up to honor one of the nation’s (and one of Hawaii’s) most influential leaders.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye (September 7, 1924 – December 17, 2012) was the first Japanese American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for bravery during World War II. Inouye became one of the nation’s most influential politicians and, as president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate (third in line of presidential succession), the highest-ranking public official of Asian descent in U.S. history.

For many, however, Dan Inouye was much more than his many accomplishments. His influence continues to be felt in the infrastructure and communities that surround us in Hawaii, and in the hearts of many who came to know him. It is his vision for a better future that may be his biggest legacy.

Part of that vision included empowering other people to lead the charge, so that the projects and organizations he believed in would continue. “For Dan,” said Irene Hirano Inouye, “it was never about him; it was about the work. Dan was proud of the work of HCF,” she recalled, “and understood the opportunity it provided to sustain the momentum he built.” He once said, “The Hawaii Community Foundation serves as a beacon of hope for many in our community.”

Irene Hirano Inouye created two funds at HCF. The Daniel K. Inouye Memorial Fund enabled community members to honor the late senator with a contribution; among the grantees were Helping Hands Hawaii for their Ready to Learn Program, the U.S. Japan Council, and the UH Foundation for Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Adopt a Classroom program.

The Daniel K. Inouye Institute Fund was established to preserve and share the senator’s materials and perpetuate his memory and legacy of service to Hawaii and the nation. Initiatives under this fund include the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Democratic Leadership, a partnership between the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center and Bishop Museum, the Tomodachi Inouye Scholars program, a distinguished lecture series, and education programs in STEM and civics learning.


Private Foundations

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The Hawaii Community Foundation supports private foundation clients by providing foundation services and facilitating their grant programs.

The Hawaii Community Foundation provides private foundation services for foundations across the state. These services include grants administration, strategy development, and compliance with regulations. In addition, HCF serves as a sounding board, a community connector and funding partner to help private foundations amplify the power of their giving.


Give Aloha/Foodland

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(L to R): Darton Stradling, West Region Director, Western Union, Jenai S. Wall, Chairman and CEO, Foodland Super Market Ltd., & Roger Wall, Vice-Chairman, Foodland Super Market Ltd.

In honor of its founder, this program encourages Foodland customers to make a donation to their favorite cause.

Give Aloha, Foodland's Annual Community Matching Gifts Program, was created in 1999 to honor Foodland’s founder, Maurice J. "Sully" Sullivan, and continue his legacy of giving back to the community. Each year, during Sept. 1 – 30 at all Foodland and Sack N Save stores statewide, customers are encouraged to make a donation at checkout of up to $249 to their favorite Hawaii nonprofit organization. All Hawaii 501 (c)(3) organizations are invited to participate each year. Foodland matches a portion of each donation.

Established at HCF in 2004, the Foodland Give Aloha Program Fund allows nonprofits statewide to leverage contributions made by their donors through a Foodland and Western Union match. This year, Foodland and the Western Union Foundation will match each donation with at least $300,000 for all organizations combined. Since the program began, a grand total of more than $23 million has been raised for Hawaii’s charities.

The program honors the community service legacy of Foodland’s founder, Maurice J. “Sully” Sullivan. The first store opened in 1948 and the chain grew quickly as Hawaii customers were eager to embrace the concept of a large, one-stop food and merchandise outlet.

Jenai Wall became president in 1995, chief executive officer in 1998 and chairman of the board in 2001. Maurice Sullivan died in 1998. The company’s Shop for a Better Education, and more recent programs like Give Aloha and Share a Holiday Feast give customers a way to give back to their communities.

The Sullivan Family has created several funds at HCF, one being the endowed Foodland Community Fund, which supports a wide range of charitable causes.