Where We Work

We invest in strategies to address the biggest challenges facing the places we call home: the Bay Area and Hawai‘i.

The world sees the San Francisco Bay Area as the center of innovation and Hawai‘i as a land of paradise. But too many members of our communities, especially people of color and individuals from low-income backgrounds, face systemic barriers and are left out of opportunities in their own backyards. We believe every member of our community deserves a life marked by dignity, connectedness, and caring. That’s why we are going all in on fulfilling that vision with our community partners over the next decade.

Stupski’s connection to the Bay Area

Larry and Joyce Stupski met in San Francisco in the 1980s and have called the City By the Bay home ever since. Over the years, Larry and Joyce recognized the challenges that many people living in San Francisco and Alameda Counties faced and wanted to give back to the communities they call home. In 1996, they founded the initial Stupski Foundation to transform public education nationwide. The foundation worked with superintendents, state policymakers, nonprofits, and education administrators throughout the system to improve leadership capabilities and drive substantial systematic changes that would ultimately transform students’ lives. In 2012, they closed the foundation due to Larry’s declining health.

After Larry’s passing in 2013, Joyce established the new spend down foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco’s SOMA District in 2015. Today, Stupski invests in San Francisco and Alameda Counties – communities with high levels of need; untapped opportunities; and strong partnerships across health, education and food systems. Stupski hopes its investments in local, systems-level change will lead to lasting solutions that can be models for other place-based funders.

Stupski’s connection to Hawai‘i

Larry and Joyce Stupski started living part time in Hawaiʻi in 1995, first on Hawai‘i Island then on O‘ahu. Early on, they saw the need for part-time residents like themselves to give back to the local community that gave them so much. For the Stupskis, this meant supporting a number of community organizations that worked in education, Hawaiʻian cultural preservation, and the arts.

Beyond their philanthropic giving, Larry and Joyce were committed to working closely with Hawaiʻi nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. Larry served on the board of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) as a board of governor from 2007 – 2009. In 2008, he also served on HCF’s Trustee Investment & Review Committee. Pulling from his experience of creating collaborative learning networks among school districts at the initial Stupski Foundation, Larry played a key role in building HCF’s first funder collaborative to help stabilize families who lost their jobs during the recession in 2008. Known as the Hawai‘i Community Stabilization Initiative, Larry and HCF created the collaborative to allow the expediting of grants to nonprofit organizations so critical services could be immediately provided to affected families. Pooling funds was so impactful that today HCF supports eight funder collaboratives for a range of societal change initiatives across the islands. 

 “Larry was instrumental not just in what we did but how we did the work,” shared Kelvin Taketa, former president and chief executive officer of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.

When Joyce launched the spend down foundation in 2015, it was important to her to honor Larry’s legacy and their shared love for Hawai‘i by continuing to support communities across the islands. Recognizing that many of the same challenges facing the Bay Area are present in Hawai‘i and that the Stupski Foundation could make a real difference there, we now invest in statewide community-led programs that address each of our issue areas.

While the Bay Area and Hawaii are similar in many ways, the Aloha state is an extraordinary place with its own history, culture, and systems. Because of that, we partner with the Hawai‘i Community Foundation to understand the local context and find organizations that are working on issues that strategically align with our vision. Thanks to this partnership, we can share lessons from Hawaii and apply them to our work in the Bay Area and vis versa. Throughout our spend down over the next 10 years, we will continue to identify organizations in partnership with the Hawaii Community Foundation that strategically align with our issues areas. Stupski hopes its investments in local, systems-level change will lead to lasting solutions that can be models for other funders connected to Hawaiʻi.