100 years

Hawai‘i Community Foundation
Holomua Marine Initiative

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The Holomua Marine Initiative will support broad public participation and incorporate expert scientific and cultural guidance to achieve the goal of restoring abundance to Hawai‘i's nearshore waters through effective resource management, so that the people of Hawai‘i can enjoy our coastal waters, support local livelihoods, and feed our families for generations to come.


The Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) launched Holomua Marine Initiative as a way to work with communities to effectively manage our nearshore marine resources around each main Hawaiian island so that our local resources are available and plentiful, today and for future generations. DAR is working with communities through a locally led planning process, starting with a pilot that was launched on Maui in late 2022.

Changes to the Initiative

In 2023, in response to feedback from some local fishers, DAR changed the targeted goal and the name of the initiative to the Holomua Marine Initiative. DAR has identified four pillars as a path to effective marine management.

The 4 Pillars of Holomua

DAR has outlined a path to effective management built on four pillars. We will work in partnership with communities to operationalize these pillars to achieve our shared nearshore management goals.

  • Place-Based Planning – Identify and develop management strategies for improved marine management in partnership with communities and stakeholders
  • Pono Practices – Encourage responsible behavior and practices guided by Hawaiian values and perspectives through education and outreach, rules, strengthened enforcement, and local partnerships
  • Monitoring – Measure and document current conditions, track progress following implementation and use data to identify areas where management actions need to be adapted
  • Restoration – Builds on existing strategies to prevent damage to fragile nearshore ecosystems from invasive species, disease, and environmental damage events and expands efforts to restore and enhance impacted areas

How did this begin? In 2016, the State launched the Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative, a multi-pronged effort to to increase the sustainability of our natural resources and Hawaiʻi’s self-sufficiency. As part of this effort, the DAR is committed to building a community engagement process to guide the Holomua Marine Initiative to improve the health and abundance of our nearshore waters for the benefit of the people of Hawaiʻi. Visit the Governor’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative web page to learn more.

HCF’s Role

The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) manages philanthropic donations that supports the Holomua Marine Initiative and the communities engaged in nearshore marine management efforts. Our role is to administer a pooled field of interest fund to support robust implementation of the Initiative, which includes providing grants and contracts to increase and augment state capacity to carry out the initiative and build a marine managed areas (MMA) program, as well as provide support for a range of partners and communities throughout the state to design, monitor, and steward MMAs, advance responsible or pono fishing practices, and to protect and restore Hawai‘i’s unique nearshore marine environments.

Holomua Marine Initiative Fund Advisory Committee

The 10-member advisory committee was formed in July 2020 and is charged with identifying funding priorities that are best suited for philanthropic support to reach the goals of the Holomua Marine Initiative. The committee meets quarterly to review proposals and make recommendations to HCF’s Board of Governors on funding, and/or to review progress on existing awards and the status of identified priorities. The advisory committee consists of representatives from various sectors of the community that share kuleana for the nearshore marine environment in Hawai‘i including marine science, conservation, community organizations, fishers, and cultural experts.

Brian Neilson

Brian Neilson

Brian Neilson is the administrator of the Hawaiʻi Division of Aquatic Resources, Department of Land and Natural Resources. He has worked in the field of Fisheries and Natural Resources Management for over 25 years. He is passionate about building partnerships and co-management of marine resources.

Eric Co

Eric Co

Eric Co serves as the senior program officer for Ocean and Resiliency at the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. He has 25 years of professional experience working in the fields of marine science and management in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, the Mainland U.S. and Australia, through field restoration and monitoring, research, community organizing, program development, strategic planning and mentoring, organizational strengthening, fundraising, and grantmaking. Eric enjoys fishing, hunting, farming, surfing, and carpentry.

Phil Fernandez

Phil Fernandez

Phil Fernandez is a retired business executive with more than 30 years of management experience in corporate and start-up technology industries. Phil has worked in corporate finance, business and finance consulting, ocean resources management, and endangered species policy and management. Phil is a lifelong fisherman and a co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Fishermen’s Alliance for Conservation and Tradition (HFACT). Phil lives on the Big Island with his wife and their cat, Baby.

Jocelyn Garovoy Herbert

Jocelyn Garovoy Herbert

Jocelyn Garovoy Herbert serves as a program officer and attorney at Resources Legacy Fund (RLF). She has worked with sustainable commercial fisheries, land conservation, and kuleana land rights, and creating science-informed, stakeholder-designed network of marine protected areas. Jocelyn fell in love with Hawaiʻi when visiting Maui as a child and playing in the nearshore waters, and has lived and worked on Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, and O‘ahu.

Hi‘ilei Kawelo

Hi‘ilei Kawelo

Hi‘ilei Kawelo is the executive director of Paepae o Heʻeia, a nonprofit organization that cares for He‘eia Fishpond, an 88-acre, 800-year old traditional Hawaiian fishpond. Hiʻilei is a fisherwoman whose family stems from six generations of fishing in the waters of Kāne‘ohe Bay. Hiʻilei’s passion is Hawaiʻi, its land and sea, its people, practices, and traditions.

‘Ekolu Lindsey

‘Ekolu Lindsey

‘Ekolu Lindsey is the president of Maui Cultural Lands and co-founder of Polanui Hiu, focused on bringing back balance to marine resources and the spirit of the people who utilize them.

Justine Nihipali

Justine Nihipali

Justine Nihipali serves as the program manager for the Office of Planning, Coastal Zone Management Program. She has recently worked for the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center supporting course development for natural hazards. She enjoys chasing her two young children while they still think she is cool enough to hang with.

Dana Okano

Dana Okano

Dana Okano is a program director in the Community Grants and Initiatives division of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF). Prior to joining HCF, she worked as a land-based sources of pollution coordinator, a coral reef management liaison, and a coastal zone management specialist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as a coastal zone management planner for the County of Hawaiʻi Planning Department. Dana also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa for two years.

Noelani Puniwai

Noelani Puniwai

Dr. Noelani Puniwai is currently an associate professor at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH Mānoa, where her interests lie in working with communities, and across disciplines, to progress the health of our people and ʻāina/kai. Today, as a professional conservation scientist, Native Hawaiian community member, and science educator, Noelani wears many hats and tries to facilitate the communication of knowledge between scientists, local communities, and management agencies with a focus on seascapes and ocean health. Her research interests include coastal ecosystems, indigenous and ethical science, knowledge co-production for an abundant future, understanding and recognizing climate change, and cultural seascapes. Her family name means surrounded by—all about—water; making water her purifier, her connector, and her kuleana (responsibility) to conserve and protect from the tops of the mountain to the depths of the sea.

Presley Wann

Presley Wann

Presley Wann is currently the president of Hui Makaʻainana o Makana and participates in several community and Hawaiʻi state organizations. He worked with the community of Haʻena to create a community-based subsistence fishing area to establish community-based management of the environment and its resources. He enjoys taro farming, surfing, fishing, and spending time with his four grandchildren.

Priority Funding Targets

With a fundraising goal of $3 million per year for the next 10 years, the Holomua Marine Initiative will provide grants and contracts to strengthen the collective work of partners. The following are the funding priorities: 

  • Empowering Community Efforts – To support community groups and networks of cultural practitioners throughout the Hawaiian Islands to revive effective traditional stewardship practices.
  • Leveraging Private Investments for Public Funding - To support efforts that create and advance measures to increase public funding for long-term ocean conservation and management.
  • Building a Movement – Develop strategic messaging to effectively communicate the importance of marine resources to a full range of stakeholders and decision-makers.
  • Ensuring a Strong Foundation in Science - The Holomua Marine Initiative must incorporate leading scientific information to ensure that its MMAs will function as an ecological network, informed by traditional knowledge, and crafted with monitoring and enforcement in mind.
  • Setting the Stage for Good Governance – To support coordinated, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, planning milestones, and transparent communication to ensure greater efficiency and accountability among partners.

For more information email us at environment@hcf-hawaii.org

Funding Raised to Date

$9.5 M in committed funds from 2020-2023

Current Funders

  • Aditi Fund
  • Anonymous (2)
  • Dorrance Family Foundation
  • Harold K. L. Castle Foundation
  • Kamehameha Schools
  • Kōaniani Fund
  • Marisla Foundation
  • Oak Foundation
  • Oceans 5
  • Padmani Brown and David Luedtke Charitable Fund
  • The Tiffany & Co. Foundation
  • Vibrant Oceans Initiative, a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Weissman Family Foundation

Funding Opportunities

Limited Eligibility Funding Opportunity

Request for Proposals (RFP)
Holomua Marine Initiative
Official Makai Watch Community Organizations

Expected number of requests: 14

The Purpose of This Funding Opportunity
The Makai Watch Program is a collaboration between communities and the State Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR), which recognizes effective marine management engages the community in helping to manage their resources. The purpose of this RFP is to support the success and sustainability of the Makai Watch Program and the implementation of strategies that achieve program objectives and respond effectively to community and partners’ feedback regarding how Makai Watch can be strengthened and expanded to effectively embody the values and approach on which the Program was founded. The people who use a resource ultimately are responsible for its long-term health.

This funding opportunity is specifically intended to support community organizations in Hawai’i who are collaborating with DLNR’s Makai Watch Program as Official Makai Watch Community Organizations.

The activities that HCF will consider for funding in this proposal include:

  1. Staff and volunteer recruitment and retention;
  2. Organizational capacity building which can include training, peer learning exchanges, etc.
    (Note: limited travel may be considered)
  3. Program operations and supplies;
  4. Supporting strategic planning, business planning, and sustainable finance planning;
  5. Other priorities that will result in strengthening organizational capacity to effectively achieve the objectives of Makai Watch and Holomua Marine Initiative.

Eligibility: Applicants must already be collaborating with DLNR on the Makai Watch Program as a DLNR Official Makai Watch Community Organization and be a non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, or a fiscal sponsor for these organizations.

Official Makai Watch Community Organizations are limited to the following:

  1. Hui Maka'ainana O Makana
  2. Hanalei Watershed Hui
  3. Malama Pupukea-Waimea
  4. West Maui Kumuwai Campaign
  5. Puako Community Association
  6. Hui Aloha Kiholo
  7. Kaupulehu Marine Life Advisory Committee
  8. Kauhako Ohana Association
  9. Kalanihale
  10. Heeia NEER
  11. Kipahulu Ohana
  12. Manu Iwa O Malanai
  13. Hui Ohana o Honaunau
  14. Kealakekua, Hawaii

Grant Term: Grant requests for projects with a duration of 12-24 months (up to 2 years maximum) will be considered.

Funding: Grant requests for up to $50,000 USD will be considered. Funding decisions will be made in December 2023.

Deadline for Submission: 4:00 p.m. HST, Friday, October 6, 2023

For more information, see the below resources:
Funding Opportunity Guidelines


Community Capacity Building Cohort Grant Focus

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to provide grant support and a technical assistance training program to a cohort of community partners on Maui and Lānaʻi who are interested in working with DAR in the Holomua Marine Initiative. Grantees participating in this program will have use of and access to consultants, cultural practitioners and other experts to support effective marine management.


  • Kīpuka Olowalu in partnership with the Coral Reef Alliance - $100,000 over 2 years ($50,000 per year)
  • Kaʻehu - $100,000 over 2 years ($50,000 per year)
  • Ke Ao Hali'i - $100,000 over 2 years ($50,000 per year)
  • Kipahulu 'Ohana, Inc. - $100,000 over 2 years ($50,000 per year)
  • Maui Hui Mālama - $50,000 over 2 years ($25,000 per year)
  • Nā Mamo O Mū'olea - $100,000 over 2 years ($50,000 per year)

Community Monitoring

A key component of effectively managing Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters is having an established statewide framework that incorporates information and data from a range of sources. Community-based organizations (CBO) that are interested in participating in the Holomua Marine Initiative and in having their place-based monitoring data integrated into the statewide framework will need to have a clearly defined monitoring goal, strategy, and purpose, inclusive of coordination with DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) on integration into the statewide framework. 

  • Conservation International - $200,000
  • Kua'aina Ulu 'Auamo (KUA) - $200,000
  • The Nature Conservancy - $200,000

Makai Watch

The purpose of this grant is to assess the Makai Watch Program, a collaboration between communities and the State DLNR, and identify how it can be strengthened and/or expanded to effectively embody the values and approach on which the program was founded, which at its core recognizes that the people who use a resource ultimately are responsible for its long-term health.

  • Conservation International - $49,989

Support for Operating the Holomua Marine Initiative

  • Arizona State University's Hawai‘i Monitoring and Reporting Collaborative (HIMARC) - $681,908
    HIMARC is a collaboration among organizations that are involved in monitoring and management of Hawai‘i’s nearshore waters. Existing data collected by these programs is combined and serves as a backbone for data informed management decisions. HIMARC will serve as the primary resource for data housing, calibration, and analyses.
  • Hawaii Green Growth thru Oahu Economic Development Council - $100,000
    Funding for Aloha+Challenge policy coordination, public outreach, network facilitation and Aloha+Dashboard metric updates with Hawaiʻi county governments and communities related to the Holomua Marine statewide initiative.
  • State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources - $878,892
    Funds will be used to implement the Holomua Marine Initiative, including work to advance: (1) community-focused public process, (2) communications, (3) data monitoring and analyses, (4) legal and regulatory work, (5) expansion of the Makai Watch program, and (6) interim evaluation of DAR’s progress on the Initiative.


  • Contracts for Communications Support for the Holomua Marine Initiative - $124,740
  • Contracts to support the evaluation of the Statewide Holomua Marine Initiative - $101,058
  • Contracts for facilitation services related to the Holomua Marine Initiative - $304,136
  • Contract for community support and training - $75,000