Ulupono Initiative

The Kohala Center

A community-based institute leading the way in statewide school garden network development.

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In recognition of the importance of local food production, awareness and access to resources on a community level, Ulupono Initiative has provided grants to The Kohala Center (TKC) since Ulupono's inception through the Ulupono donor-advised fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

TKC is an independent, 501(c)(3) community-based institute for education, research, conservation, and economic development based on the island of Hawaii. The Center was established to create greater educational and employment opportunities by caring for Hawaii’s natural and cultural landscape. This involves basic and applied research, policy research, conservation and restoration initiatives, public outreach and education carried out through local, regional, national, and international partnerships. TKC is also committed to supporting K–12 education for island youth, and has helped build food systems and provided broader access for the Hawaii Island Food Summit through webcasting.

Hawaii Island School Garden Network
The Hawaii Island School Garden Network is at the very heart of The Kohala Center’s comprehensive approach to the issue of food self-reliance. The Kohala Center supports school gardens as a way to garner community interest in strengthening the local food system and inspire future generations to care about agriculture. 

The Hawaii Island School Garden Network has helped to catalyze a statewide farm-to-school movement, in which local families convey their strong interest in having healthy, fresh, locally grown food served to students. The farm-to-school movement has spurred further interest in strengthening the local food system by ensuring that local farms can supply the potential demand on the part of institutional buyers. 

Hawaii Farm-to-School and School Garden Hui (HFSSGH)
The overarching mission of HFSSGH is to strengthen Hawaii's statewide Farm-to-School and School Garden movement by supporting the various island networks in the areas of capacity building, resource development and sharing, professional development, and policy development and advocacy. The Kohala Center took over the responsibility of HFSSGH in 2012.

Laulima Center for Rural Cooperative Development
In order to build local farm capacity, the Laulima Center for Rural Cooperative Development was established in collaboration with the USDA in 2010 through a rural cooperative development grant. The Laulima Center provides educational, organizational development, strategic and business planning, market analyses, and legal assistance services. Since opening its doors in January 2011, the Laulima Center has served more than 100 agricultural businesses, assisted with the incorporation of cooperative ventures, helped farmers markets gain access to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), and created a marketing group for eight farmers markets.

Why We Invested

Ulupono Initiative invests in organizations and companies working toward more sustainable food, energy, and waste systems in Hawaii. Investing in The Kohala Center provides the opportunity for impact in food, waste, energy (through other programs).


  • Supports more local food by increasing the consumer demand among children and families
  • Inspires and nurtures educated consumers who seek out fresh local food
  • Helps raise future farmers and food entrepreneurs 
  • Provides agricultural resources that nurture more local food
  • Incorporates composting and recycling of food, green waste as a resource
  • Increases community support for local food through farmers markets, seed initiatives and other outreach
  • Leads and partners with garden and school food community across the state
  • Provides replicable programs to enhance broader impact

At a Glance

Kohala Center Logo

Investment Area
Food, Waste
Financial Model
Total Investment


Hawaii Island School Garden Network
2014: $22,500
2013: $147,500
2012: $83,750
2011: $150,000
2010: $47,650
2009: $195,000*
2008: $45,000*
2007: $120,000*

Hawaii Farm-to-School & School Garden Hui 
2014: $32,200
2012: $21,885

Grant/Loan Access Assistance for Local Farmers
2018: $100,000
2017: $145,000
2014: $75,000
2012: $125,000
2011: $125,000
2010: $25,000

Food Systems Director/Barefoot MBA Program
‚Äč2009: $103,125*
2008: $100,000*

Hawaii Island Food Summit Webcast
2008: $22,168*

*Omidyar funds were invested before the creation of Ulupono and are considered legacy projects.

Support for the Kohala Center is provided through grants from the Ulupono Donor-Advised Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.