Community-Based Environmental Stewardship

Hawaiʻi is the most isolated island community on the planet. To thrive and flourish here, we must embrace our kuleana (responsibility, privilege) to care for one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth. Traditional indigenous knowledge underscored the need to live within the islands’ ecological boundaries and in kinship with nature.

With the impacts of climate change being felt in real ways, the Kosasa Foundation wishes to support and advance practices that increase the resilience of our islands. We believe that engaged communities that understand and embrace stewardship of our home will help us face the challenges that we are experiencing. 

The Kosasa Foundation Community-Based Environmental Stewardship (CBES) Program seeks to support nonprofits across the state to:

  • improve a range of environmental conditions;
  • encourage community participation, education, and awareness to create a sustainable future; and
  • connect residents with nature in ways that strengthen a sense of place and community and nurture a relationship of reciprocity in which ʻāina and people both receive and give care.
Program Principles

In our application review, we will look for projects that demonstrate the following:

  1. Clear goals towards improving the environment of a place.
  2. Strong engagement by community members and an openness to helping community learn about the issues and their kuleana to address those issues. Community participation, education and awareness are the goal.
  3. Ablity to present measureable results that reflect progress against an identified environmental challenge.
  4. Collaboration between community, the scientific community, and relevant government agencies.

The Kosasa Foundation hopes to advance its understanding of effective community-based environmental stewardship approaches. We expect to learn as much from what does NOT work as we do from what does. To that end, our goal is to have a productive engagement with our grantees that supports meaningful data collection of all kinds and builds the capacity to use results to improve on practice. We plan to describe our impact in the following ways:

  1. Specific impacts in different fields. This will depend on the organizations that we fund and what they are striving to accomplish. For example, you may be able to measure numbers of acres protected, invasive species removed, native plants planted, etc. We will look to our grantees to identify information that aids in assessing their success.
  2. Engagement, participation and inclusion. We believe that successful environmental stewardship happens when relevant local communities are deeply involved in problem solving and advocating for places that matter to them. Building engaged, knowledgeable, and caring communities will sustain the work for the long haul.
  3. Understanding the elements of successful partnerships. Environmental Stewardship is complex work on many levels. It requires skills and knowledge from indigenous practices, local conservation experiences, and western scientific practices. We would like to understand how communities weave these belief systems and approaches together to accomplish their goals.

The Community-Based Environmental Stewardship Program offers a range of grants based on project scope and funding availability. Funding requests will be considered for new and existing programs that clearly demonstrate improvements and impacts that are aligned with the Program’s Principles, Effectiveness, and Measures of Success described above.

  • Grant funds are limited to no more than 20% of operating budget.
  • Small grant requests, typically in the $10,000 to $50,000 range, should demonstrate specific measurable results and outcomes for up to an 18-month project period.
  • Grant requests greater than $50,000 can be for up to a 2-year project period. Please note that larger requests are intended for more strategic, complex projects that have value and scope commensurate with the level of funding request, significant and robust partnerships and community engagement, and dramatic impact to the communities and constituencies to be served. Higher funding requests will be reviewed with greater scrutiny to assess cost-effectiveness and to ensure that potential environmental stewardship benefits justify the level of funding.