The Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation has historically supported the well-being of Hawaii’s keiki and their families, recognizing that successful child development requires attending to the holistic needs of the members of our communities. It traces this philosophical belief to Mary Tenney Castle, the founder of the Foundation, and her commitment to quality early education and broadening access, designed to improve the lives of Hawaii’s young children. She pioneered the Kindergarten movement in Hawaii as a vehicle to create a more equitable Hawaii where children experience learning that leads them to become active, effective participants in our democracy.
Toward these ends, the Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation distributed over $2.1 million in 2019. Funds have supported professional development for teachers and preschool directors, tuition assistance for private pre-school families, resources to fulfill accreditation requirements, and tuition assistance to early childhood undergraduate and graduate students. Grant funding has also been provided to well-established family well-being initiatives sponsored by non-profit organizations, to enable them to expand their reach and guarantee the continuation of successful programs designed to give families greater security and thus support a solid foundation for the success of their children. In addition, our Foundation advocated on behalf of children and families through its underwriting of the work of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network.
A few highlights of this past year include continued support of the Erikson Institute’s Math (5th cohort) and Literacy (3rd Cohort) workshops, offering transformative professional development opportunities for both public and private pre-school educators across the State, along with a new collaborative effort addressing social emotional needs of young children to be launched in 2020. In addition, funding was provided to HAIS (Hawaii Association of Independent Schools) Schools of the Future Conference to enhance its early learning strand. Workforce capacity building remains a challenge in Hawaii as elsewhere and we plan to continue to work with partners to address this critical need along with providing professional opportunities for those already members of the early learning community.
The Foundation once again sponsored workshops for pre-school administrative staff, focused on operational issues and strategic planning in partnership with HANO (Hawaii Alliance of Non-Profit Organizations). As pre-school leaders continue to seek ways to address the changing landscape of early learning in our State, especially with the addition of public pre-K classrooms, the Foundation has been exploring how best to design its next iteration of the “Castle Colleagues” program. It is currently in a planning conceptual phase with the esteemed Erikson Institute to propose a leadership professional development program designed to enhance administrative and leadership skill sets while promoting strategic thinking to support our private preschools. We wish to ensure the viability of our private preschools, to ensure choice is offered to our families as we continue to honor the diversity of our community, understanding the distinct nature of our State where differing needs and shared values find a meeting point.
The work of the Foundation is carried out by Al Castle, its Executive Director, whose tireless efforts and creative solutions result in the success of the Board’s goals. His participation locally is well-known and his leadership nationally as a member of the Early Childhood Education Funders Collaborative keeps the importance and urgency of early learning front-and-center on both stages.
Our Foundation’s work is only successful as we form partnerships across both the private and public sector. Keiki Funders Network, KCAA CEED Center, Chaminade University and the University of Hawaii remain key associations for which we are most grateful. I also share our appreciation for those who daily deliver quality experiences to young children and their families; it is those relationships that make the most difference in a child’s life and future success. Mahalo to all of our partners, both local and national.
With Warm Aloha,
Robert G. Peters, EdD