Foundation announces $450,000 in Innovation Fund awards

HCF Office

HCF OfficeFive recipients are awarded $480,591 in grants – including a first time “People’s Choice Award” – to implement fresh ideas and create meaningful change in Hawaii

The Hawaii Community Foundation announced the second round of grant recipients from its Island Innovation Fund, which was created to serve as a catalyst for innovation within the nonprofit sector. From a group of eight finalists, a total of $480,591 was awarded to five recipients for projects that will: increase energy awareness through real-time energy monitoring web and mobile application tools; allow residents statewide to actively follow and monitor the Hawaii legislative process; distribute a replicable exercise and fall prevention program to Hawaii’s seniors; deploy a new access control mechanism to maintain public access to trails and pathways on Hawaii Island; and encourage schools to eliminate its waste to create green schools.

For the first time, a “People’s Choice Award” was also selected by the more than 200 nonprofits that submitted proposals over the first and second grant rounds.

“While the continuing stagnant economy forces nonprofits to do more with less while facing complex issues, it is increasingly important to create a culture for innovation that allows organizations to think out of the box to find creative solutions to challenges in our community,” explained Kelvin Taketa, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Community Foundation. “The Island Innovation Fund is designed to foster new ways to solve the various problems that our state faces, by working together and building upon each others’ great ideas.”

In its first round of grants, a total of $461,119 was awarded to five recipients for innovative projects that addressed various issues from conservation of native forests to technology solutions that connect consumers to Hawaii farm products.

“It was exciting to build upon the successes and lessons learned from the first round of grants and to work with nonprofits in this second round to spur new, thoughtful ideas to create lasting change in our communities,” said Kina Mahi, senior programs officer at the Hawaii Community Foundation in charge of the Island Innovation Fund. “We were impressed with the exciting community engagement strategies and new technology ideas that have the potential to make a broader impact beyond the organizations.”

This is the second of three award rounds planned. The second round recipients of the Island Innovation Fund include:

Blue Planet Foundation (Hawaii Energy Tracker Phase II: “Show Me the Power”) – $100,000

Blue Planet Foundation will increase energy awareness and provoke action through its “Show Me the Power” (SMTP) and “The Island Pulse” innovations. SMTP, a new web application, will encourage households to change their energy habits by enabling users to see their real-time energy usage and allowing them to select from different scenarios (i.e. upgrading their refrigerator to an Energy Star appliance) that will show cost and energy savings. “The Island Pulse” is targeted to create energy consumption awareness in communities, businesses, and groups through an energy use public display in high-traffic locations (i.e. shopping malls and restaurants).

Hawaii Elections Project, Inc. (Hawaii Policy Portal) – $81,720

The Hawaii Policy Portal (HPP) allows residents statewide to actively follow and participate in Hawaii’s legislative process. HPP will help to simplify research, mobilization, and communication needed for effective advocacy at both the State and County levels, and the platform will have the potential to transform public participation in Hawaii’s policy-making process.

Giving Back (Move With Balance) – $100,000

Giving Back will offer a replicable exercise and fall prevention program for Hawaii’s seniors. The organization will distribute instructional DVDs and educational materials to individuals, caregivers, and senior centers, and a user-friendly interactive website will connect clients for sharing and further trainings.

PATH – People’s Advocacy for Trails Hawaii (Public Access with Kuleana) – $100,000

The project will pursue a community-managed public access model that provides a way for the public to enjoy activities like fishing and hiking on private lands, with a shared kuleana, or responsibility, to cultural practices, environmental sustainability, private property rights and community values. The grant will fund implementation of a six-part community-managed public access model consisting of (1) legal agreements, (2) risk management, (3) an access control and accountability system, (4) education and orientation of access users, (5) establishment of enforcement protocols, and (6) evaluation to improve the model and inform others who wish to apply this model to other places. Two locations in Pepe`ekeo, North Hilo and Keahuolū, North Kona have been chosen for the innovation.

People’s Choice Award — The Green House (Greening our Schools) – $98,871

The Green House will expand its school waste diversion and green jobs program that converts schools into zero waste sites where “waste” is kept on-site and composted into useable resources. Trained Environmental Educators at each site will ensure the sustainability of the program and provide mentor/mentee green jobs training opportunities.

The Island Innovation Fund was established in 2010 as a part of the historic $50 million commitment from Pam and Pierre Omidyar to the Hawaii Community Foundation. Details on the Island Innovation Fund are available at and the Hawaii Community Foundation website,

About Hawaii Community Foundation

With 95 years of community service, the Hawaii Community Foundation is the leading philanthropic institution in the state. The Foundation is a steward of more than 600 funds, including more than 160 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2011, more than $43 million in grants and contracts were distributed statewide. The Foundation also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector.

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