Reaching Out

Hawai`i Community Foundation enriches all of Hawai`i with its wide array of philanthropic services.

There’s an old African proverb that Kelvin Taketa, Hawai`i Community Foundation President and CEO, points to that he believes aptly describes the organization’s philosophy.

If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.

“That’s a perfect example of how—by working together, especially in this community—we can really make a difference in a much bigger way than if you just try to do it by yourself,” he says.

And it seems to be working, too. This year, HCF celebrates its centennial anniversary.

It makes Taketa feel old, he jokes, having been with the organization now for nearly two decades. But it also, he emphasizes, is an accomplishment only made possible because of the support HCF has received throughout the years—a promise, almost, for the future.

“It’s a real testament to the enduring quality of a community foundation—a gathering place for people who want to give back to the community to find a vehicle to help them do that,” Taketa says.

“The mission is the community.”

HCF remains the largest grant-maker in the state. It also is the only statewide community foundation, and one of the oldest and biggest community foundations in the nation, made up of more than 700 funds backed by families, individuals and businesses within the community that simply want to give back.


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HCF's Environment & Sustainability Program and Community Restoration Partnership grants have helped create greener, cleaner and more self-sufficient island communities. HCF volunteers cleaning a clogged ocean channel blocking the Loko Ea fishpond in Hale`iwa.

Through HCF, for instance, $47 million goes toward grants annually for nonprofit organizations throughout the state—HCF has offices on O`ahu, Hawai`i Island, Maui and Kaua`i. This includes $5 million that is given to deserving students each year through more than 200 scholarship funds that have been set up.

All of this to achieve one very simple, albeit important mission: To serve as a bridge that connects those who want to give with the organizations, programs and individuals who truly need it.

“I think probably the most transformative thing for us has been our work in convening and organizing groups of philanthropists and funders, along with stakeholders, to really work toward achieving this shared goal,” Taketa says.

He points to one of the organization’s newest initiatives, HousingASAP, as an example of this. Thirteen founders—Aloha United Way, American Savings Bank, Atherton Family Foundation, Bank of Hawaii Foundation, Central Pacific Bank Foundation, Cooke Foundation Ltd., Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kresge Foundation and McInerny Foundation, as well as HCF’s Community Housing Fund, Kosasa Family Fund, Omidyar Ohana Fund and Stupski Family Fund— came together about a year-and-a-half ago to establish this three-year, $4 million program that seeks to create a network of nonprofits that work together to get people into stable housing.

“Already they’ve been able to increase the number of families they helped to stable housing by 20 percent, and they’ve been able to decrease the recidivism back onto the street by about 20 percent,” Taketa says.

It isn’t just homelessness HCF is addressing either. There’s one in the works right now, for example, that recently completed its initial planning phase that will focus on ensuring Hawai`i has sustainable, dependable access to fresh water. Others still are in R&D, but something is always on the horizon.

“That’s one of the things the foundation does a lot of work on,” Taketa says. “We go out into the community and really talk to a lot of people about what the concerns are, and then we try to bring in really great research and strategy design work to try to figure out what the solutions might be.”

Really, it’s all just another example of how HCF’s collaborative nature works to support, impact and dramatically change Hawai`i’s communities.

It should come as no surprise then, that HCF’s centennial anniversary celebrations are not so much about them, but about giving back in general. For that reason, HCF hopes that by celebrating their anniversary, they will encourage others to increase the overall level of giving in Hawai`i—beginning with a Legacy Giving campaign, which recently kicked off in January.

“Whether you know it or not, your life has been enriched and touched by all these people who came before you that have done remarkable things for the community,” Taketa says.

All photos courtesy Hawai`i Community Foundation

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