The Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation continues to be a proactive, fully staffed and engaged charitable foundation. Founded in 1894 and with charitable roots stretching back to the 17th century in America, our founder was a 19th century abolitionist, feminist, Christian spiritualist and philanthropist who adopted early childhood education as her primary theme. Mary Tenney Castle, with the advice of her children, drew up plans for a perpetual family foundation at the death of her husband in the 1894. Her primary charge was that the foundation provide teacher training in connection with the founding and establishment of progressive kindergartens inspired by family friend John Dewey of the University of Chicago. In addition, her foundation provided funds to build kindergartens, provide capital improvements to facilities and tuition assistance to families in need of support to enroll their child in one of many kindergartens on Oahu. Her Castle Kindergarten, established with the help of John Dewey, was the lab school for Hawaii until the UH Lab school was built by the Foundation in 1941.
Today, the Foundation is managed by a descendant of the founder and the trustee body is composed of a majority of family members. Dr. Robert Peters, a prominent early educator, serves as a community trustee and president. His service has enhanced the expertise of the foundation in early education and extended its reach in Hawaii. Staff is very small and the executive director depends on volunteers and community advisors to achieve the reach of a state-wide funder. The Foundation is open 7 days a week including all holidays but Christmas. Preschool directors who deal with the Foundation often say how much they appreciate being able to work with the Foundation on Saturdays when children are not present. Saturdays are also devoted to parents of children helped by the Foundation. Parents are encouraged to let us know where opportunities for investment lie.
As the recognized leader in early education funding in the state of Hawaii, the foundation continues to provide investments in tuition assistance, small capital improvements to pre-k facilities, construction of pre-k facilities, teacher training opportunities, scholarships to study at Chaminade University, Colorado State University and the University of Hawaii system for preschool teachers or aspiring pre-k teachers. Additional funds are made available to support early education conferences in Hawaii and a select number on the mainland. A continuing interest of the Foundation, as originated by Mary Castle and her family, is public advocacy for improved access to high quality pre-k for all Hawaii’s residents. Advocacy is funded through an intermediary, Hawaii Children’s Action Network. Federal advocacy is achieved through active membership in national groups such as the Early Education Funders Collaborative. In addition, the executive director and president are active on the Hawaii State Early Learning Advisory Board with Dr. Peters serving as the Chair of that board. Alfred Castle serves as the representative of the philanthropy sector in the state on ELAB. Both have attended and presented testimony to legislative panels in 2016. Additionally, both have met with public officials to advocate for a “holistic” approach to early learning and child well-being.
Nationally, Mr. Castle was re-elected to a 1-year additional term as a director of the Early Education Funders Collaborative and in that capacity has served as an advisor on early education priorities to the White House policy staff. His efforts to promote Hawaii to national funders have brought funding to Hawaii as well as greater understanding of Hawaii’s unique assets and needs. In 2016 he also served as a director of the Federal Philanthropy Fund (initially created by the family of Warren Buffett) which has invested over a million dollars in federal advocates for early education and has encouraged foundation investments in state advocacy as well.
In 2016, Al served on the committee of ECFC which provided a transition and early childhood opportunity document for each of the four presidential candidates. ECFC will continue to work with Congress and the White House to increase resources for children in 2017.
Al Castle serves on numerous committees and task forces in Hawaii as well as advising foundations which are interested in Hawaii’s non-profits. He serves as an instructor (and founder) of the Weinberg Foundation Fellows program and the Weinberg Foundation Awards Committee for excellence in nonprofit management in the human services. He manages the Pettus Foundation, a St Louis, Missouri-based foundation which has invested millions of dollars in Hawaii since 1977. In 2016, he was re-elected a trustee by Northern Trust Company and given responsibility to lead all St. Louis grants. He has established an office through the St. Louis Community Foundation to staff his work. Informally, he advises the following national and regional foundations: The Conrad Hilton Foundation, the William R. Hearst Foundation, the Martha S. Trimble Charitable Trust (he serves as a trustee for life), the William Irwin Foundation, the Levi Strauss Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. He remains a valued advisor to the WK Kellogg Foundation which has been a co-funder with the Castle Foundation for numerous projects in Hawaii.
After spending many years as a college educator and administrator, AI remains active as a researcher and writer. He remains an essay contributor for the Literary Encyclopedia and is a frequent fellow for the prestigious Liberty Fund in Indiana. His contributions have been recognized by Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who in the West. He is also active with his Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Colorado State University.
Executive’s Director’s Hawaii Service in 2016
- The Early Learning Advisory Board’s philanthropy representative.
- Occasional advisor to the Cooke Family Foundation and other Hawaii-based foundations.
- Chair of Keiki Funders.
- Hawaii Manager of the Pettus Foundation. Trustee of the Pettus Foundation.
- Advisor to emerging professionals in philanthropy (EPIP).
- Instructor and curricular advisor, Weinberg Foundation Fellows Program and Award Committee Chair.
- Advisor to several national foundations interested in Hawaii.
- Historian of the American Protestant Mission and the role of the Castle family in Hawaii and America’s philanthropic history.
- Speaker at numerous conferences and seminars.
- Provides ample technical assistance in fund raising to private pre-school directors and boards.
- Member of Advisory Council, Hawaii Early Childhood Data Sharing Governance Program.
- Instructor in the Castle Colleagues program.
- Presenter in the Weinberg Foundation Fellows Program.
- Member of the “Aim for Excellence”, the Weinberg Foundation Awards Program.
Executive Director’s National Service in 2016
- Program planner and presenter for the Aspen Institute.
- Thrice elected to the Board of Directors of the Early Education Funders Collaborative.
- University of Georgia: Liberty Fund Fellow in conservative intellectual History (February, 2016).
- Panelist and Conference organizer for the Aspen Institute’s Donor Forum.
- Trustee, Martha Scott Trimble Trust (Fort Collins, Colorado).
- Advisor, Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Early Childhood Education Center.
- Member of Fred Rogers National Award for Advocacy for Children (Pennsylvania).
- Advisor, Bryn Mawr College, Castle Rare Book Library Collection.
- ECFC Advisory Committee: advised the White House on Early Education policy and private sector fund raising.
- Committee of Advisors, the Aspen Institute (Two-Generation Project).
- Trustee, Pettus Foundation (St. Louis, Missouri).
- Liberty Fund Fellow at Stanford University and the Hoover Institute (2016).
Foundation Goals for 2017
The Castle Foundation does its best work when it maintains its focus and courage to take risks on behalf of children. We have also done some of our most impactful work when staying active in the public policy arena. Our focus is provided to us by Mary Castle’s charter which names teacher training for early educators as her highest priority. Her family followed these directives for decades and while providing some general grants, they advocated for a public kindergarten system to supplement the many private kindergartens the family had helped to start and/or sustain. The Foundation played a key role in obtaining full-day publicly supported kindergartens in 1943 and in training public school and kindergarten teachers in Castle Hall, the UH Lab School.
2017 will be a challenging year as the Castle Foundation continues to influence public policy at the state and federal levels. The Foundation will work closely with the Department of Human Services, with the DOE and the Governor’s office if possible. In addition, while seeking out opportunities to impact quality of the public pre-k through sponsoring teacher and administrator training opportunities, we will need to continue our successful work encouraging and funding accreditation by private preschools state-wide. The private sector is likely to handle 90% or more of the families seeking early education and thus we must remain vigilant in finding gaps needing to be filled. In 2016, we continued a public and private pre-k early mathematics training program with the Erikson Institute and CEED at KCAA. Chaminade University has also been most helpful in launching this program. Erikson will return in 2017 for a third year of training in early mathematics while also working with our Foundation to plan for additional teacher and administrator training. In addition, the Erikson Institute is working to develop an early literacy teacher training cohort.
Al Castle was selected to plan an Aspen Institute Conference and to present material to a national audience in Aspen in 2015 and 2016. He joined Hawaii’s DHS Director Rachael Wong in representing Hawaii’s initiatives. Efforts like this are important in keeping Hawaii on the “radar screen” and letting national funders know what opportunities we present. Hawaii has a special history and we have much to teach about teaching early education in a racially and culturally diverse state. 2017 will bring additional chances to add to this work.
As much as possible, Al will continue his work seeking out national grants for Hawaii projects. The Castle Foundation is widely respected nationally, even internationally, for its historic work as well as its present contributions. We may have special opportunities to continue co-funding with the Kellogg Foundation in 2017 and efforts are being made to secure renewed investment from that large national funder. It is very common for organizations other than preschools to ask our office for endorsement letters to other mainland foundations. As much as possible, the Castle Foundation wants to continue its work as a “go-to” resource for many of our non-profit organizations.
Al Castle was named a Liberty Fund Fellow in Conservative Thought at the University of Georgia in 2015-2016 and will continue that work in 2017. In addition, Al will begin preparing preliminary notes for the writing and re-issuing of the Foundation’s history, “A Century of Philanthropy,” for the 125th anniversary edition. Al hopes to complete the book’s 3rd edition by 2020. In addition, Al will be active in many mainland and local venues promoting the understanding and appreciation of the work of his great-great grandmother and her ongoing philanthropy in Hawaii.
In 2016, Al Castle and President Robert Peters were active in public policy through the Early Learning Advisory Board (Al Castle received universal confirmation for reappointment to his seat as philanthropy representative in 2014 by the Hawaii State Senate while Bob was an active and effective Chairman of the Board). Both men gave House and Senate testimony on behalf of children and played a role in obtaining legislation favorable to children.
We propose to remain active as a board member of ELAB and to advise the governor, the Executive Office of Early Learning, and DHS on what opportunities we can see for early education. Most importantly, our foundation must advocate for the expansion of the existing public pre-k classrooms while ensuring that quality becomes embedded in all aspects of the public pre-k. This may entail working with DHS and the DOE to provide additional training opportunities for public school teachers and training for principal leadership. We certainly need to advocate for the preservation of any existing programs and money for private providers such as the tuition assistance POD program. I note that our Foundation helped to save POD back in 2008 when governor Lingle proposed ending all subsidies to low-income children in pre-schools due to the financial crisis in the state. We raised almost a million dollars from Hawaii-based foundations to supplement meager state dollars. The challenge from the private sector for this assistance maintained the program which today is budgeted for $10,000,000 a year.
The sudden death of Holly Henderson, the program director for Castle Colleagues, in October of 2016 led to the cancellation of the program for 2016-2017. The Foundation will need to work with the pre-school community and HANO to develop a successor program in 2018. The new Castle Colleagues program will likely look different than it did while still assisting directors to manage their schools more effectively.
Significantly, we must continue all of our primary projects and programs to enhance or create quality in private pre-k’s, providing capital improvements and pre-school construction, scholarships for pre-school teachers, support for current pre-school teachers planning to re-enter university training, and perhaps tuition assistance for very low-income students. There is a real question about how long we can commit to tuition assistance as those dollars might better be used for improving quality and creating better systems. Tuition assistance is much appreciated by the public but does not make a huge difference in the number of children whose families can afford private preschools. A better strategy might be to expand the public sector and ensure quality for low-income children. The trustees will need to monitor this carefully. The key question for our trustees and executive staff is where can we invest our dollars so that they do the most good for the most children.
2017 promises to be another important year. We have an opportunity to impact quality, policy, legislation and systems. Emboldened by our founder and our history of solid accomplishment, we will continue to provide 7-day a week office staffing and leadership. The Castle Foundation, which is widely respected in the state and on the mainland, aims to continue being among the most effective and hardworking foundations in our state.
Specific Goals Executive Director in 2017
- Continue to provide a user-friendly accessible and responsive full-service grants office for Hawaii.
- Continue to assist trustees as needed with projects that complement the tactics and strategies of the Foundation.
- Continue to work with Morgan Stanley and BOH to improve investment performance of the Foundation’s portfolio.
- Continue to represent the Foundation in national committees and organizations where doing so improves Hawaii’s chances of receiving federal and/or national foundation financial support for early education.
- Continue to represent the philanthropic community on the DOE’s Early Learning Advisory Board.
- Continue to assist the Foundation president with legislative testimony and support as needed.
- Continue the work of gathering information and data so that a third edition of the book “Century of Philanthropy” can be published by the Foundation’s 125th anniversary.
- Serve as a Liberty Fund Fellow in conservative intellectual thought in 2017.
- Continue national service as a grant maker in Colorado and Saint Louis, Missouri
- Continue to manage mainland grants to Hawaii’s early education and human services community (Pettus Foundation).
- Continue to provide technical assistance to preschools seeking grants and mentorship for accreditation.
- Continue to seek our innovative teacher training opportunities for preschool and kindergarten teachers in both the public and private sectors.
- Work with the Foundation president to find ways to increase quality in the emerging public preschool sectors.
- Advise the Charter School Commission on sustainability issues.
- Work with the new Director of the State Department of Human Services to co-fund where possible early education in the state. All possible public-private funding opportunities will be pursued aggressively.
- Work with the Harold KL Castle Foundation to co-fund and maximize support for early education in Windward Oahu.
- Seek for opportunities to assist and fund efforts to align a quality preschool curriculum with the K-12 and increase school readiness.
- Continue to chair Keiki Funders Meetings. Work with HCAN, HAEYC, ELAB and other organizations to advocate for additional public support for early education.
- Continue to inform the public in Hawaii and nationally about the long history of the Foundation and its continuing contributions to Hawaii’s children and families.
- Work with Native Hawaiian organizations to increase early education and family support to meet the special needs of this community.
- Develop innovative ways to work with Child and Family Service and other organizations pioneering a two-generation approach to fighting the cycle of poverty (support for quality preschool and child care combined with support for parents and custodians of children)
- Maintain a flexible, pro-active approach to meeting unexpected challenges to early education and continue to work for universal access to high quality early education and universal school readiness.
- Continue to develop the successful RFP for unrestricted giving to organizations serving children and families at-risk.
- Find a replacement program for Castle Colleagues and continue to find innovative ways to deliver teacher training.
Long-Term and Ongoing Goals for the Castle Foundation
- Building the skills of the Early Learning workforce. Promote coaching and mentoring for preschool teachers, aligned with curriculum and assessment systems; scholarships or compensation associated with continuing education and training in early childhood education; training for principals and superintendents in early childhood development; and enhancements that bring compensation for early educators to parity with early elementary teachers.
- Building a continuum of high-quality early learning from birth to third grade. New investments to continue early education programs and services beyond federal investments in home visiting, infant and toddler care, or preschool in a state or region. Public and private leaders, like our Foundation, can invest in infant and toddler services where a federal Pre-school Development Grant is awarded, or in preschool where an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant is awarded.
- Enriching early education experiences. Strengthened language and literacy instruction in preschool classrooms; mathematics and science learning opportunities; resources for comprehensive health and mental health services (e.g., screenings, early identification, and management of physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive developmental needs), and family engagement. Greater support for the transition from pre-school to kindergarten. Parent education programs and other resources for caregivers and educators about the importance of adult-child interaction and talking, singing, and reading with children in their earliest years.
- Promoting equity in early education. We can support providers and policymakers to implement policies that eliminate suspensions and expulsions in preschools and child care centers which disproportionately impacts children of color.
- Supporting early education infrastructure and facilities. Financing and facilities acquisition to expand the availability of high-quality early education, particularly in high-poverty neighborhoods with a shortage of quality programs.
- Promoting innovation in early education. We can support pilots for innovative programs, technology, and new approaches to early education. Support for research, evaluation and documentation to build the next generation of early education strategies and models.
- Promote the well-being of the “whole child” through innovative and impactful grantmaking. In addition to supporting K-12 readiness, we may want to work to promote pre-school readiness through support of children ages 0-3 and their families. The 2016-2018 RFP for human services programs serving children and families is integrated to this strategy.
- Seek out and support parent education programs in Hawaii.