Funders Are Taking Urgent Action to Deploy Resources in Hawai‘i

May 5, 2020


The Stupski Foundation is committed to supporting the communities we call home. We’re heartened to see many of our peer funders taking urgent action to meet the challenges of COVID-19 head-on in partnership with community-based organizations and local government. The Hawai‘i Resilience Fund, created by our friends at Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF), is a great example of how funders can coordinate efforts to support our communities.


Before the pandemic, the Aloha State drew 10 million annual visitors, with the tourism industry accounting for 216,000 local jobs. Now with travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders in place to help flatten the curve, thousands of residents are out of work. Today, more than one-third of Hawaiʻi’s labor force has filed for unemployment, according to figures from the state Department of Labor—making Hawaiʻi one of the hardest-hit states economically by COVID-19. 


Hawaiʻi Food Bank contactless drop-off. Photo credit: HCF

 Even prior to the coronavirus, 48% of families lived paycheck to paycheck across the state. With COVID-19, families who were already struggling now need immediate support to meet their basic needs. Anticipating these challenges, in mid-March, HCF acted quickly to create the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund to rapidly deploy resources to community nonprofits and health care providers who are working to address the impacts of COVID-19. Together, the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund and HCF each contributed $1 million to the fund. Stupski was motivated by this quick response and invested $500,000, bringing the initial launch of the fund to $2.5 million.


“Investing in HCF’s Hawai‘i Resilience Fund was an easy choice. HCF is uniquely positioned to direct funds where they’re needed most,” explains Glen Galaich, CEO of Stupski. “The organization has strong relationships with community organizations across the islands and is rooted in values of family, community, and tradition,” he said.

The fund recently reached the $10 million mark, and in just six weeks, the organization has deployed close to $5 million in grants to community-based organizations in Hawai‘i. To date, grants are helping to protect health care workers, contribute to food distribution and economic relief for families, provide basic needs supports for communities experiencing the most intense effects of the crisis, and more.


This photo, taken before COVID-19, captures a moment of celebration with seniors in KKV’s program. Photo credit: KKV/Merlita Compton.

One of the Fund’s grantees and a Stupski grantee-partner is Kōkua Kalihi Valley (KKV), a federally qualified community health center on O‘ahu. KKV created a telehealth and social service check-in program to keep its senior population healthy and connected while sheltering in place. KKV’s new weekly program now serves more than 300 seniors. It begins with a 30- to 45-minute phone call to assess each senior’s health and wellness and determine their needs for testing, food, supplies, medical care, and assistance. These calls help seniors feel cared for, something that Stupski is committed to as part of our serious illness care work. This pilot program, one of the first of its kind, could become a model for other organizations like it in a post-COVID-19 future.


“We’re seeing the impact of these funds across our islands—from people being able to get tested, to knowing where their next meal is going to come from, to being able to pay their utility bills,” said Micah Kāne, president and CEO of HCF. “For everyone in Hawai‘i and beyond, this is the moment to think about what you can offer your community; it can be something big, or small, but we are asking everyone to consider how you can make someone’s day better during this tough time.”


To learn more about the fund or read stories about the work it supports, visit HCF’s website. We hope you will consider joining us in donating to the fund and sharing what you’re learning about the best ways to support the Aloha State during this crisis and beyond.