The Weinberg Foundation’s priority to support rural communities nationwide plays a special role in Hawaiʻi grantmaking. This year, the Foundation launched its grantmaking in Hawaiʻi with a total of $2.3 million in capital, operating, and program grants to three organizations strengthening rural communities in Hawaiʻi:
MAʻO Organic Farms was awarded a $950,000 two-year program grant to support youth in preparing for post-secondary success while improving the health and food security outcomes of the broader community.
In the rural community of Wai‘anae, Oahu, MAʻO’s work addresses three Foundation focus areas and funding priorities, including Health, Jobs, and Education. MAʻO is the largest producer of organic food in our state and places youth at the center of its work to convert a high-poverty food desert with poor health outcomes into a region of abundance, prosperity, and health. Through Project Māʻona, MAʻO provides paid internships that empower and equip youth to achieve transformational goals for themselves and their community.
Data shows that youth interns improve their education and health outcomes through MAʻO’s comprehensive approach that includes mentorship, leadership development, paid work-based learning, college credits and post-secondary support, and access to healthy and nutritious food. Over the next two years, MAʻO will increase the number of youth it serves by 75 percent while also expanding the amount of high-quality organic produce it provides.
Mālama ʻĀina Foundation received a $350,000 two-year general operating grant to support Native Hawaiian culture-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming for youth in rural communities, including new programs for 100 middle school students in the rural and remote community of Kaʻu on Hawaiʻi Island.
The organization currently operates in West Oʻahu and East Hawaiʻi Island—two rural communities with high concentrations of Native Hawaiian youth. Mālama ʻĀina Foundation provides educational support to 300 youth in public Title I schools through science and math tutoring and after-school and summer culture-based STEM programming, which aligns with the Weinberg Foundation’s Education grantmaking priorities. Mālama ʻĀina Foundation’s programs are especially needed in the state’s most remote areas where keiki have fewer opportunities for after-school and out-of-school time enrichment programs.
Data shows strong increases in student math and science scores after program participation, and the Foundation’s operating grant of $350,000 over two years will allow the organizations to scale its successful work and launch programs in Kaʻu, Hawaiʻi Island.
Waiʻanae Coast Comprehensive Health Center (WCCHC) was awarded a $1,000,000 capital grant to support the expansion and renovation of its dental clinic and increase access to oral health care. This grant will allow WCCHC to double the size of its current dental facility, which will reduce wait times and increase access to preventative and urgent care for the community.
Oral health affects a person’s ability to communicate, eat, work, and learn. For keiki, access to affordable, quality oral health care is crucial to supporting their overall well-being, including their success in school. Access to dental care is particularly challenging in rural communities across the state, such as Leeward Oʻahu.
WCCHC’s work aligns with the Foundation’s Health grantmaking priority of increasing access to affordable, high-quality health care. In Hawaiʻi, this need must also encompass an emphasis on oral and behavioral health care in rural and remote communities. To ensure access to affordable dental care in the area, WCCHC began providing oral health services in the late 1970s and, with the expansion of its dental clinic, will be able to serve many more individuals.
More than $400,000 in additional new grants announced
Stable housing provides a foundation for individuals, children, and families to lead healthy and productive lives. Without housing, people are unable to focus on education, employment, health care, and meeting other basic needs.
Helping Hands Hawaiʻi
$50,000 operating grant to support the general operations of this organization, which provides emergency assistance, including eviction prevention, access to household necessities, help applying for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, and more.
Good health is essential to help people move and remain out of poverty. Poor physical or mental health can prevent or complicate the pursuit of education, employment, and other opportunities for economic mobility.
Maui Youth and Family Services
Maui County, HI
$400,000 capital grant to support the construction of the Coordinated Services and Training Center with the goal of increasing the capacity of this organization, and its two partner agencies, to provide behavioral health care.