Tag Archives: Grants

Polling for Preference

A new Zogby poll on contracting preferences finds that when it comes to awarding government contracts, the majority favors the (rather common sense) approach of awarding contracts to the lowest qualified bidder.  Of course, those who have experience with the thorny thicket of government contracting rules know that this is far from the norm.  We’ve written in this space about the prevalence of preferences for minority businesses (specifically Native Hawaiian and Native Alaskan) and that’s just the beginning.

However, the poll found that overall, only 34% favored preferences for women or minority-owned businesses (though unsurprisingly, that number shifted according to certain demographic factors), and there was a decided bias for awarding state contracts to businesses within that state or federal contracts to businesses within the country.  On the whole, women were more likely to favor preferences than men and older respondents were more likely to support preferences in general.

In the latest Grassroot Institute newsletter, we had our own poll question on preferences–namely whether you think that the government grants listed on this site should continue.  If you haven’t had the chance to vote yet, be sure to visit the poll and do so–we’ll keep you updated on the results.

OHA Announces Another New Grants Program

We’ve been beating the drum on granting accountability with a fair (some might say nearly obsessive) degree of frequency.  As the main state grantor of Native Hawaiian programs, OHA naturally comes in for a large share of this criticism and analysis–and their reticence to share much about their evaluation process (not to mention the seemingly random nature of some of their grants) tends to exacerbate the problem.  Not that I’m letting them off the hook.  After all, when you stand in a position of trust as OHA does for Native Hawaiians, I think that you owe that group a great deal of accountability on how you choose to award your grants.

Still, in a sign that I’m going to optimistically label as “hopeful” (though in truth it will come down to actual results and actions, not intentions and PR), OHA has announced a new granting program called “Granting for Results” that will focus on OHA’s top goals and priorities, including improving education, lowering chronic disease rates, and raising earning power for Native Hawaiians.  I’m less enthused about some of the other stated goals and focuses, which include:

creating stable housing; valuing history; participating in cultural activities; improving lifestyle choices; understanding the need for a viable land base; protecting natural resources; and transferring assets to the new Native Hawaiian governing entity.

(Key to my concern–some of these are so vague as to be meaningless ways to advance clear politicized agendas, be they environmental or social engineering.  and “transferring assets to the new Native Hawaiian governing entity” should raise eyebrows among Native Hawaiians who are wondering where the Akaka Bill will leave them.  Whose assets?  How?  Where?  Under whose control? For what?  And let’s recall that there are some pretty considerable assets in play when it comes to Native Hawaiian trusts.)

The new grants (which offer up to $100,000 to the non-profit organizations that win the awards) are broken into the following four categories:

  • ‘Ahahui Grant – makes up to $10,000 available for community events that reflect any of OHA’s 10 strategic results and charge no admission to Native Hawaiians. It requires matching funds that amount to at least 10 percent of the event’s total cost. In addition, it makes between $10,002 and $25,000 available for community events that can secure matching funds that amount to at least 25 percent of their total cost to stage. Applications are accepted twice a year with deadlines of July 15, 2011 and Nov. 15, 2011.
  • Kauhale Grant – makes up to $25,000 available for community-based projects that directly impact any of OHA’s 10 strategic results. It requires matching funds that amount to at least 25 percent of the total cost of the project. Aug. 31, 2011 is the deadline to apply for this grant.
  • Kamoku Grant – makes up to $50,000 available for projects focused on increasing the family-income levels of Native Hawaiians. It requires matching funds that amount to at least 25 percent of the total cost of the project. Aug. 31, 2011 is the deadline to apply for this grant.
  • Kaiāulu Grant – makes between $25,001 and $100,000 available for community-based projects that directly impact any of OHA’s 10 strategic results. It also requires matching funds that amount to at least 50 percent of the total cost of the project. Aug. 31, 2011 is the deadline to apply for this grant.

Let’s hope that we’ll see more openness from OHA on how these grants achieve their goals (and how effective they are in doing so).


OHA on Kauai

OHA is holding meetings on the outer islands, part of which includes discussion of some of their ongoing grant projects.  For more, check out the OHA release/newsletter blurb below:

The Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs traveled to Kaua‘i for the first in a series of five community meetings with Native Hawaiians on the Neighbor Islands.

The community meeting – hosted by Trustee Donald B. Cataluna – drew a crowd of nearly 40 people to the King Kaumuali‘i School cafeteria.

Community member Alroy Enos, who is President of Ka Hale Pono, expressed appreciation for the $10,000 grant OHA awarded his organization to fund the first-ever parade in Anahola to mark Prince Kühiö Day.

Liberta Hussey-Albao, a 42-year Kaua‘i resident who has taken up genealogy as a hobby, offered her gratitude for the Papakilo Database, which she praised for assisting her efforts to trace family roots since OHA unveiled it in April.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came during a joint presentation by Rowena Contrades-Pangan and Anela Pä, the co-Directors of the Ho‘omana, which was created eight years ago with a $50,000 grant from OHA for such efforts as moving Native Hawaiians and others from welfare to work and providing inmates with a fighting chance when they get out of jail.

One of the program’s tough-to-employ clients fought back tears as she told the Trustees about recently completing a five-year prison sentence and receiving hope for her future from the program, which stepped in to provide her with job training and clothing at a time when family members and others gave up on her.

According to OHA Chairperson Colette Machado, Läna‘i will be the next stop for the Trustees, who will meet with Native Hawaiians on that island June 15-16 before heading to Moloka‘i in July, Maui in August, then the Big Island in September.

OHA Announces New Round of Grants

Have a program that will raise the well-being of the Native Hawaiian community?  The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is looking for you.  Non-profit granting trends being what they are, OHA has decided to create a new focus in their community granting program from a focus on addressing “individual needs” to programs that will, “lead to systematic change and maximize,” the impact on all Native Hawaiians.  A look through the 4Hawaiians Only wiki/database demonstrates that the community grants tend to be the broadest in interpretation of OHA goals, so it’s hard to say what difference this new focus will make.  I suppose we’ll have to see the results of the grant awards to evaluate the difference and what it could mean for Native Hawaiians.  I can say that the goal of fostering economic self-sufficiency is one that is consistently stressed in OHA publications, and interpreted rather broadly to support anything from community kitchens and farms to poi production.  The stress on education initiatives is also a constant, and can be seen in the many preschool and scholarship programs in the OHA fold.  What remains to be seen is whether the shift from individual help to systematic change affects the kinds of programs that have traditionally received these grants.  The grants can be up to 2 years and as much as $250,000 and are meant to focus on the following three “advocacy initiatives”:

  • Raising  family-income levels to help foster economic self sufficiency;
  • Meeting or exceeding educational achievement standards for  elementary, intermediate and high school students as well as increasing college graduation rates;
  • Reducing health risks by decreasing the obesity rate among Native Hawaiians.

(Those interested in learning more about the grant requirements, deadlines, etc. can  visit www.oha.org , call 594-1904 or email grantsinfo@oha.org.)

The Stossel Effect

One of the complaints I hear from time to time about our catalog of Native Hawaiian grants is that I must be wrong about the amount of money and number of grants involved since Native Hawaiians still have so many troubles (economic or otherwise).  Well, yes and no.

Far be it from me to pass judgment on how much trouble anyone has, regardless of his or her ethnicity.  Times are tough out there for (mostly) everyone, including Native Hawaiians.  Though quite a few of them (the ones who benefited from the multi-million dollar federal contracting preferences leap to mind) who appear to be doing pretty well.  But all that is beside the point.  The question is how so much money can be put to use for so little (in the opinion of the complainer) result.  And to that, I can only say . . . what else do you expect from government-based efforts to help?  I bring up American Indian tribal affairs from time to time on this blog–not just because there can be some interesting parallels, but also because the drive for the Akaka Bill’s passage tells us that these examples are signs of things to come.  So I think it might be worthwhile to look at Barry Farber’s recent column about John Stossel’s recent piece of investigative journalism (I’ve left a bit of a historical cliffhanger, so you’ll have to go the full article to finish the story):

Now here comes John Stossel, fellow WND columnist, over the weekend of March 26 with one of the best pieces in television history: “Freeloaders,” a Fox News special delivering stomp-down proof that Indian tribes that are not recognized as tribes by the government and get no federal handouts are more successful than those on the federal dole. Stossel visited the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, whose members get nothing from the government. They’re generally successful in business. Many live in luxury mansions. In contrast, the Indians embraced by the feds live in what look like tar-paper shacks.

In boxing, John Stossel’s interview with Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the government nanny of the recognized tribes, would have been canceled as a mismatch or halted on a TKO early in Round 1. She was pitifully unable to defend government stewardship over Native Americans as anything but the failure of socialism.

I’ll never quit thanking Stossel for giving me Part 4 of my standard answer to the question, “How can you flat-out say that capitalism is better for the masses than socialism?” Up to now I’ve had three examples: free and prosperous Finland, which began its national life simultaneously with its dysfunctional Communist Russian neighbor; West Berlin, delivering mortal embarrassment to Communist East Berlin every day of the latter’s existence; and Hong Kong, when it was British and free right next to Communist China. Now I add: the Lumbees, up against all the tribes spoon-fed by Washington.

So, pleasure-wise, what’s in this for me? Unless Stossel over-Googled, I’ll bet you he didn’t know something real nice about the Lumbees, whose independent prosperity he covered so splendidly. It’s something I’ve known for years.

In January 1958, the Ku Klux Klan in Robeson County, N.C., staged a rally to put the allegedly uppity Lumbee Indians back in their “proper” racial place. The Lumbees are totally integrated Americans, but they bought some feathers and face-paint and, just as the Klansmen were about to torch the giant cross, able-bodied male Lumbees costumed like the “Indians” of our childhood stormed into the Klan clearing from all directions, war-whooping and putting the white-clad racists to rout.

That’s “Entertainment”?

So, how often do you like to kick back and watch a little Pacific Network Internet television?  Yeah, me neither.

But would you make more of an effort if you knew that they were getting nearly a million dollars from OHA for the creation of a “Hawaiian-themed internet television station and web portal”?  It kinda makes you wonder what a cool million buys these days in the way of internet entertainment . . . aside from buckets of Farmville cash or enough “adult videos” to end up under permanent FBI surveillance, of course.

Curious as to what a Hawaiian internet TV station might look like, I checked out their website, and was confronted by . . . Puppies!  Adorable ones! In a shopping cart!  Also, canoeing wipe-outs and some footage of a party in Waikiki that didn’t seem interesting enough to click on.  In all honesty, it looked more like a creation of the Hawaii Tourism Authority than anything intended for Hawaii residents, much less Native Hawaiians.  And if this were a private enterprise, that would be no big deal.  I mean, I would question their business plan, but we live in a country where people are entitled to waste their own money in whatever way they wish.  And I would no more stop someone from starting a questionable business enterprise than from going to an Rob Schneider movie.  (Ok, that’s not entirely true.  I would probably at least try to urge them, out of basic human decency, to avoid the movie.)  But this is beside the point.  Because we’re not talking about private enterprise here.  We’re talking about money intended for the benefit of the Native Hawaiian people.  And we’re talking about a quasi-governmental agency that hopes to have a big hand in the proposed Native Hawaiian Reorganization proposed by the Akaka Bill.

The crazy thing is that we have seen plenty of media enterprises aimed at speaking primarily to one minority group succeed (BET and Telemundo come to mind, but there are others too).  But they succeed or fail in the marketplace by learning to speak to their audience and growing their audience in a profitable way.  Who is the Pacific Network speaking to?  The lack of advertising on the website suggests that profitability at this point is determined only by the success of their grant proposals.  If you were (or are) Native Hawaiian, would you consider this an effective way of reaching out or fostering the Native Hawaiian community?  Or is it just another OHA vanity grant that looks good on paper, but disappoints in reality?

Depend On It

The Heritage Foundation has released its 2010 Index of Dependence on Government, and you will be unsurprised to hear that American dependence on government programs continues to grow–especially in the health and welfare sectors.  Now, I will be the first to admit that, when confronted by a bevy of charts and words like “index” and “variables,” my eyes begin to glaze over and I think longingly of cool drinks and reality TV reruns.  But there is a reason to pay attention to what the number-crunching prognosticator-types are talking about.

For example–do you have (or are you working towards) a government pension?  Do you want it to still be there when you need it?  Because when budget crises reach a certain critical point (*cough* California *cough*), one of the first things that they look to cut are pensions and state salaries.

So what does this have to do with government spending on Hawaiians.  Because while a few hundred million is nothing to sneeze at, spending on Native Hawaiians seems minor in a year that included the massive stimulus bill.  But there’s more to the problem of creating a dependency on government programs than just the dollars and cents of it.  As the authors of the index explain:

To be clear: Every person will be dependent on others many times during his or her life, and there is nothing wrong with that. People spend most of their childhoods utterly dependent on their parents, and many people will rely on caregivers during their last years. Dependence on family, neighbors, fellow members of community groups, and—yes—local government is the normal, everyday stuff of life.

When people receive aid from someone in their social circle, they are given an opportunity to repay that aid someday in a similar way. Mutual aid is the glue that binds communities together; it gives strength to families and the greater civil society. Most Americans know instinctively that creating strong communities and families is a matter of caring for each other.

When the federal government provides aid, that aid also binds the dependent person to the aid giver. This aid, however, is anything but mutual. No one expects the dependent person one day to give similar aid to the federal government. And government aid certainly does not strengthen communities and families: If Americans have learned anything about the federal welfare system, it is how effectively it undermines family structure and hollows out communities.

Worse, dependence-creating programs quickly morph into political assets that policymakers all too readily embrace. Voters tend to support politicians and political parties that give them higher incomes or subsidies for the essentials of life; but no matter how well-meaning policymakers might have been when they created government aid programs like Medicare, unemployment insurance, and subsidized housing, these same programs quickly grow beyond their mission and turn into a mechanism that creates and sustains a never-ending cycle of dependence—and entitlement thinking.

Is there a clearer delineation of the problem inherent in depending on government to shore up the health of a community, be it racial, ethnic, or otherwise?  I’ve been worried for a long time about the slowly dissolving sense of ohana in the Islands, and I begin to wonder if this is part of the explanation for it.

OHA’s Official Grant Goals

Break out the champagne and the 12-pages of Hawaiiglish, it’s OHA grant application time!  (What is Hawaiiglish?  It’s the name I’ve come up with for the bizarre hybrid of English and Hawaiian that is especially popular in the field of obtaining Hawaiian grants or talking about Hawaii when you’re running for office.  You know . . . when you get sentences like, “The kapuna understand the matrix of needs required to foster care of the ohana.”  Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, since I feel like it’s pandering–as though Native Hawaiians are going to applaud anything you say just because you stuck the word “pono” in the sentence.)

Anyway, as part of its announcement of the new granting year, OHA also published its list of priorities.  And, to be scrupulously fair, many of them are completely reasonable and even necessary.  For example, there is a huge emphasis placed on increasing economic self-sufficiency for Native Hawaiians, with a specific goal of increasing family income and housing stability.  There are also laudable mentions of the need to exceed education standards and preserve Hawaiian culture.  Heck, I don’t even have a quarrel with the emphasis on preserving the environment and protecting the land.  There are places in this country where I might not be moved by that (I’m looking at you here, Newark), but Hawaii . . . well, that is some beautiful, beautiful stuff.

Of course, what I’ve done here is once again (like a broken CD or KPOI’s playlist) come back, yet again, to the same theme.  In effect, laudable goals do not equal laudable programs.  That’s why this exercise in transparency is so necessary.  Native Hawaiians deserve to know if all of these efforts to increase their family income, preserve their land, and protect their culture are actually good and effective program, or if they’re nothing more than vanity projects, giveaways to favored groups, or noble ideas that just don’t work in the real world.  Or whether they’re working like crazy and just need some more publicity and support to really help.  Some people get threatened by transparency efforts like 4HawaiiansOnly.  They think we’re trying to attack people or take away their support.  That’s a very defensive and short-sighted view.  All we’re doing is giving people the information they need to make an informed judgment about how their money is being spent.  You have to wonder about the motivations of those who want to prevent people from having that knowledge.

Racial Equality . . . Brought to You by Kellogg

Yes, that Kellogg.  Or, more accurately, his charitable legacy, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  It’s Grrrrrreat!

It was recently announced that Chaminade is the lucky recipient of a $200,000 grant from the Kellogg Foundation for a program that will help promote racial equality and healing (their words, not mine) through . . . er . . . well, as near as I can tell, through a travelling history exhibit and some college seminars.  Oh yeah!  Bring on the healing, Chaminade.  I know that nothing makes me feel more like destroying complicated socio-historical boundaries than a multi-disciplinary university conference.  I’m sure the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t mention them in his “I Have a Dream” speech was just an oversight.

Ok. I’m being a little glib and unfair here.  The grant (which is spread over two years) actually goes to support the Chaminade History Center’s Native Hawaiian History Initiative, which plans to bring “expert instruction” on things native Hawaiian to schools with lots of Native Hawaiian students.  And then of course, there will also be the various university symposia, lectures, and so on.

Now obviously, I have my reservations about how much a feel-good program designed to appeal more to resume-burnishing college professors than ordinary folk is going to do to break down racial barriers.  But here’s the neat thing:  who cares?  It’s a private grant from a private foundation.  No taxpayer funds involved.  Granted, I can be one of those annoying people who points out everything else they could choose to do with their money, but in the end, it is their money.

Of course, that doesn’t answer the question of whether it’s a program that will actually help Native Hawaiians in any measurable way.  (Let’s just dispense with the pretense that this is going to promote any kind of racial healing at all.  Problems of racial equality are rarely soothed by a bracing university lecture series.)   So were I Native Hawaiian, I’d be a tad annoyed that so much of the money spent to allegedly “help” me goes to community centers, elitist conferences, and travelling history displays.  But then again, if I were Native Hawaiian, I’d have a whole list of gripes to work through about the sheer number of people throwing around gobs of money to “help” me–as though I were some kind of sad, incapable social project.  (And on that note, I’d better stop before this becomes even more rant-y.)

Spotlight Grant – Waipa Foundation

In 2009, OHA gave a grant of $150,000 to the Waipa Foundation for a project that can best be described as an attempt at cultural conservation.  This seems to be a something of a modern trend in Native Hawaiian granting, so if you’re looking for Native Hawaiian grant dollars, I can only recommend that you find some culturally significant land (not hard in Hawaii–there’s a good chance that you’re standing on some right now) and propose the building of a community and cultural center there to preserve some kind of tradition.  And if you could throw a sustainable farm into the mix, that wouldn’t hurt either.

The Waipa Foundation is doing just that in Waipa, Kauai, where the project stepped in to prevent the further development of the area and preserve Waipa as a, “sustainable, culturally and community-based model for land use and management.”  There is, of course, a Native Hawaiian cultural center at the heart of the project, and an ambitious plan for a kitchen, a poi mill,  and the farming of local crops.  The original vision of the Foundation involved a strong theme of restoring the land to its potential, and the website does allude to future plans for reforestation and similar ecological projects.  (Personally, as someone with family on Kauai, I can’t help but wonder if the grant application mentioned the need to preserve the Hanalei area from affluent hippies.)

Of course, it remains to be seen whether these types of projects will be successful in the long-term . . . especially because they (by necessity) take a long time to develop and evolve.  A switch in grant trends could leave Waipa and similar projects high and dry (financially speaking) unless they were able to reach some level of sustainability and self-sufficiency.

And of course, there is still the big question that lies at the heart of so much of Native Hawaiian granting.  Does this project truly help Native Hawaiians?  Is this how they would choose to spend the funding if allowed to vote on the matter?  (This then leads to obvious questions about the finances of Hawaiian self-determination, but we’ll leave that debate for another day.)