Investment and Grant FAQs
Is there a maximum grant funding amount?
Most of Ulupono Initiative’s grants are made as recommendations through the donor-advised Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF). HCF board approval is required for any grant over $150,000, and Ulupono Initiative’s board approval is necessary for any funding recommendation over $200,000. As such, grants over $150,000, and especially over $200,000, are rare.
Most grants are less than $100,000, although the amount is closely tied to the scale of impact, with impact defined as: pounds or dollars of increased local food production; kWh of increased renewable energy production; reduction in fossil fuel use for transportation (gallons avoided), beneficial impact to Hawaii residents, and/or success in leveraging quantified funds/resources. It is also important to note that the preference is for Ulupono Initiative and/or its donor-advised fund to provide at most 50% of the funding needed, with the balance expected from project owners or other funding sources.
Is there a deadline, or are grants accepted on a rolling basis?
Grant and investment funding requests are accepted on a rolling basis. Typically, decisions take 4–6 weeks from the time all data requested by our team has been received (not necessarily from the initial inquiry). We strive to provide an initial response within 2 weeks. If the Ulupono team believes the proposal strongly aligns with our funding guidelines, then the team typically follows up with additional questions, possibly meetings and/or even a site visit (if relevant).
What are the most important review criteria, if any?
Ultimately, the most important criteria are the tangible/measurable impact in Hawaii on local food production, renewable energy, clean transportation choices, and/or freshwater resources. Consideration is made toward beneficial impact on Hawaii residents and/or success in leveraging quantified funds/resources. Ulupono Initiative seeks to support large-scale, catalytic change versus small-scale, incremental growth.
A suitable proposal to Ulupono should include a description of the project (including the challenge/issue and opportunities to be addressed), a proposed timeline, detailed sources and uses of funds (including whether other funding is firmly committed or not), the expected/potential impact, the proposed metrics to measure success/impact, major risks or obstacles to achieving impact, background and experience of key personnel, and detailed budgets. For investment inquiries, also include historical (if available) and forecasted financials, along with any assumptions on which the forecasts are based.
Is there a required format or template that should be adhered to?
No specified format is required. Most requests are received in Word or PDF format with spreadsheets (Excel) for financial information. For financial projections in Excel, we strongly prefer that all assumptions are clearly identified and not buried within the formulas in the cells (calculations should reference clearly identified assumptions).
How long does it take to hear about funding decisions?
We strive to provide an initial response within 2 weeks. If the Ulupono team believes the proposal strongly aligns with our funding guidelines, then the team typically follows up with additional questions, possibly meetings and/or even a site visit (if relevant). Decisions typically take 4–6 weeks from the time all data requested by our team has been received (not necessarily from initial inquiry).
Ulupono Initiative continues to evolve as an organization as we experiment with approaches and seek to identify optimal beneficial impact in Hawaii. As such, past funding/projects do not necessarily indicate future preferences. Additionally, the responses provided above should be considered guidelines versus strict rules; we have and will likely continue to make exceptions where risk is low and impact opportunity is high.