Strengthening Hawaii's Communities

Grants and Scholarships For Community Causes and Students

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The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) seeks to build capacity in the non-profit sector to address the issue of fresh water security in the Hawaiian Islands. The fundamental goal of this grant program is to provide the opportunity for water-interested non-profit organizations to expand their leadership and activity in the fresh water arena. HCF will issue grants (up to $50,000) to support successful organizations in building capacity to support and increase water conservation, recharge, and reuse. Grants will be issued on July 1, 2017 and run for a period of 12 months, with a potential second year of funding provided satisfactory progress in the first year. Specifically, we are seeking applicants whose mission and expanded vision in the water sector will directly support the Hawai‘i Fresh Water Initiative and it’s corresponding “Blueprint for Action” (Blueprint), a collaborative policy and action recommendation document issued by the Hawai‘i Fresh Water Council. The major goals of the Blueprint are to: 1) Improve the efficiency of Hawai‘i’s daily underground water use by 15%, cutting per capita use by 25 gallons per day per resident by 2030; 2) Increase Hawai‘i’s ability to absorb rainwater via storm water capture and expanded protection of watershed areas; and, 3) Double the amount of wastewater being reused in the Islands to 50 million gallons a day by 2030.

Background and Purpose

The Hawai‘i Fresh Water Initiative was launched in 2013 to bring multiple, diverse parties together to develop a forward-thinking and consensus-based strategy for water security in the face of climate change. HCF convened a blue ribbon panel of individuals with deep knowledge of water and a collaborative spirit to guide the Initiative. The resulting Fresh Water Council represents a robust collaboration of twenty-four federal, state, county, nonprofit, academic, and private sector stakeholders who worked together to articulate a vision for a more sustainable water future based on shared values—the Blueprint.

HCF is leading the first two phases of a multi-year effort to address increasing climate change-based threats to fresh water security in the Hawaiian Islands. The timeline of the total Initiative consists of three phases:

Steps for Applications

Phase 1 of the Initiative resulted in the publication of the Blueprint and articulated a prioritized three-year collective plan to enact the recommended policies and actions. Phase 2 is currently being led by HCF and is focused on implementing as many policies and actions as possible at the state and county level during the 2016-2018 period. The vision for Phase 3 is for continued implementation by a broad range of water-interested parties and organizations, with a long-term coordinating entity continuing to be supported by HCF and other partners.

Given that overall rainfall levels have dropped 18% over the last 30 years and Hawai‘i water infrastructure is growing increasingly fragile, there is a need for more sustained attention and activity in the non-profit sector to fresh water security. Organizations are encouraged to think about what role they could play in helping implement the Blueprint. HCF is specifically interested in organizations proposing to build or expand their own capacity to: 1) Lead a network of water entities; 2) Lead implementation around water conservation; 3) Lead implementation around water recharge; and/or 4) Lead implementation around water reuse in the Hawaiian Islands.


Any 501c3 organization may apply to this Letter of Intent. We recognize that no one organization is likely to have expertise in all four areas of Network Leadership, Conservation, Recharge, and Reuse in the context of freshwater security issues. Therefore, we anticipate multiple proposals that address some or all of these elements independently. We anticipate the strongest candidates will be those organizations that demonstrate expertise in most, or preferably all of the following areas:

  • A background in fresh water programs and policy
  • A proven ability to work successfully on policy issues as well as projects
  • Forming and leading networks or coalitions to effective results
  • A primary focus on policy, programs, and projects as opposed to litigation
  • A focus on water quantity and not water quality for the purposes of this program
  • The cultures, languages, communities, and customs of the people of Hawai‘i
  • Establishing collaborative relationships with diverse stakeholders
  • Grant management, reporting and compliance.

Application Process

HCF is inviting interested organizations to submit a brief Letter of Interest according to the instructions provided below. Based on the letters submitted, HCF will select a limited pool of qualified applicants and send a formal Request for Full Proposals to those organizations. Our goal is to make final grant award decisions by July 1, 2017.

If you are an organization or team of organizations that meets the qualifications listed above and you are interested in being considered for a fresh water security grant, please submit a Letter of Interest to the Hawai‘i Community Foundation as follows:

Submit by email to: Elizabeth Naai, Program Assistant

Deadline: Must be received by 5:00 p.m. HST on Monday, May 1, 2017. Submissions received after the deadline will not be accepted.

Please address the following in your letter (maximum 3 pages, including attachments):

  1. Identify the lead organization that would be responsible for the grant.
  2. Provide the name, title, address, phone number and email address for the contact person from the lead organization.
  3. If a Letter of Interest is submitted on behalf of a team of organizations, provide the name of each participating organization in the team.
  4. Describe history and experience of organization(s) with items listed in the Qualifications section above.
  5. A short summary of the scope of work proposed by the organization.
  6. A short explanation of the capacity you envision growing in your organization or in the sector through your project, and how it specifically furthers the goals of the Blueprint.
  7. Expected grant request amount and a short budget narrative to generally outline associated costs.

Organizations that submit acceptable letters of interest and are selected by HCF for further consideration will be contacted after the deadline with additional information about the submission of a formal proposal. If you have any questions, please contact Josh Stanbro, Program Director, at (808) 566-5541,