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Message from the President

Mary Tenney Castle, founder of the Samuel & Mary Castle Foundation, recognized the importance of Hawaii’s most valuable resource, its keiki, early on and pioneered the kindergarten movement in our State. Her commitment to quality early education and broadening access was designed to improve the life of Hawaii’s children. The trustees of the Foundation remain committed to these principles as stewards of Mrs. Castle’s legacy by supporting efforts which have the potential to result in a more equitable Hawaii where children become life-long learners who are active and effective participants in our democracy.

While the Foundation through the Samuel & Mary Castle and Henry and Dorothy Castle Memorial Funds has supported independent K-12 education and the arts along with health, historical and cultural projects in the past, the bulk of grant requests funded in 2013 has been given to support high quality learning for young children. A total amount of $1,715,500 was funded statewide to support access to high quality preschool experiences for low-income families, curricular innovations that promise improved learning and capital projects to meet standards for safe and developmentally appropriate environments for young children. With quality improvement as its guide, the Foundation has also funded center requests to seek accreditation, offered scholarships to those pursuing early learning degrees and supported professional development to improve teacher-child interactions and relationships in center classrooms. Castle Colleagues continues to be a keystone professional development program sponsored by the Foundation and offers opportunities to pre-school directors to support their efforts to implement research-based best practices, including family engagement, as they develop leadership abilities.

The Samuel & Mary Castle Foundation, true to its heritage as the oldest national family foundation, remains progressive in its outlook. Responding to the currents of change in our society while remaining true to its core values, the Foundation seeks to influence practice as it supports quality and to affect policy as it educates the public about the critical importance of early learning to our cultural sustainability. It is currently partnering with many other philanthropic organizations and the public sector in support of children’s school success, particularly their readiness for kindergarten. And in 2014, it will actively participate in the public conversation supporting passage of the state’s Constitutional Amendment related to public funding for private pre-schools, recognizing that a mixed delivery system---public and private---is necessary to meet the capacity demands for a quality statewide early learning system.

The Foundation also presents a national "face" as it is an active participant in the broader philanthropy conversation across the country. Through our executive director's efforts with such national groups as Grantmakers for Education, Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families, and the Early Education and Care Funders Collaborative, we have a visible and productive role in furthering professional development in the burgeoning field of philanthropy. We welcome collaboration with mainland foundations and professional associations seeking to make philanthropy as productive and as effective as possible. This past year, we bid "aloha" to Randolph Moore as a trustee. His leadership of the Board as its President ensured that the grants made were aligned with our mission and could genuinely make a difference, that quality early learning assumed the highest priority for funding and that improving educational opportunities state-wide remained the Foundations "north star." We shall miss his wisdom, balanced view and commitment to the welfare of our Island citizens as we move ahead with the work that lies before us.

My colleagues and I share our appreciation for our partners in the community who join with us in this critical work, and 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.

With warm aloha,

Robert G. Peters
President

January, 2014