Harold K.L. Castle Foundation: Grants for Marine Conservation

OVERVIEW: This is the largest private foundation in Hawaii, with assets of $165 million and annual giving around $6 million, to support community, education, and marine conservation grants. 

IP TAKE: Castle only supports grantmaking in Hawaii, and takes a community-based approach to protecting and managing nearshore ecosystems. The funder is driven by performance measures, but remains open to new ideas and grantseekers. 

PROFILE: Harold Kainalu Long Castle was a prominent landowner, developer and philanthropist in Hawaii, especially on the island of Oahu, until his death in 1967. Castle was a descendent of prominent businessmen and missionaries in Oahu in the 1800s, and was the sole heir of James Bicknell Castle. The Castle family, continuing with Harold K.L. Castle and wife Alice H. Castle, played a prominent role in the development of modern Hawaii. In 1962, the couple established the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation. While it reflects multiple missions particular to education and community grantmaking, its marine conservation grantmaking seeks to "restore Hawaii’s nearshore marine life populations so that future generations can benefit and learn from this rich natural resource." The foundation has several programs: Strengthening Windward O'ahu Communities, Public Education Redesign & Enhancement, Windward Youth Leadership Fund, Nearshore Marine Resource Conservation, and others.

Castle's marine conservation program seeks to increase the effective management of shorelines and reef ecosystems by creating short-term social change that then leads to long-term biological change. It hopes to increase effective marine management through education, regulation, and improved enforcement, which will ultimately restore, improve and/or preserve nearshore marine habitats for many years to come. The foundation also works to promote sustainable fisheries, and to benefit Hawaii’s economic – as well as cultural and recreational resources.

Its marine conservation grantmaking seeks to make "measurable improvements in [Castle's] nearshore oceans where possible now; promote systemic change by improving governance and a community-based management model of practice for scaled impact in the near term; and foster a collaborative set of stakeholders to maintain a healthy system for nearshore management throughout Hawaii in the long-term."

According to Senior Program Officer Eric Co, the foundation is “wed to the community-based approach that is community motivated, non profit and science facilitated, and government authorized. In this light we work with all three of these stakeholder groups as well as many partners.” By email, Co said most of their grantees work with the community and tend to be collaborative, working to hit their goals, but also to build a network of partners that contribute to a co-management model of conservation. Grantees must be based in or benefiting Hawaii, using relevant performance measures and demonstrating realistic, measurable outcomes.

Castle has evolved its theory of change [former chart in a pdf here], and contracted its seven strategies to five: 

  • Support Hawaii’s capacity to properly manage the state’s resources.
  • Improve the State’s marine management infrastructure.
  • Build a community-based co-management model of practice.
  • Reduce land-based pollution measurably and meaningfully in at least one pilot site
  • Designate new areas and regulations that sustain resources and benefit all users.

The number of grants and total amount given can vary significantly from year to year.  Some years, the foundation awards more like half a million, and in 2011, gave nearly $2 million across 15 grants. To view the foundation's financials, click here. Recent marine grantees include the Department of Land and Natural resources among many others. Grantseekers should study Castle's extensive and in-depth website to learn more.  

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