Six Local Health Programs and Community Organizations Benefit From HMSA Foundation Grants

It’s rare for a suicide story to make headlines. Unfortunately, keeping these tragic events out of the spotlight doesn’t prevent them from happening.

“Youth suicide and bullying are enormous problems in Hawaii,” said Marya Grambs, executive director of the Mental Health America of Hawaii. “The number of suicides of young people has more than doubled in the past four years.”

Mental Health America of Hawaii, an organization that works to prevent youth bullying and suicide, is one of six local health programs and community organizations supported by the HMSA Foundation in the first quarter of 2013 through more than $125,000 in grants.

The HMSA Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable foundation that supports efforts across the state to improve the health of Hawaii’s people. HMSA Foundation grants awarded in the first quarter included:

  • Mental Health America of Hawaii – The Preventing Youth Suicide and Bullying program is a joint effort of Mental Health America of Hawaii and Hawaii Youth Services Network. This collaboration uses a “train the trainers” model to teach youth workers, school personnel, and other professionals how to prevent youth suicide and bullying. Participants of all workshops will then train youth and adults. Grant amount – $47,738.

“The support provided by the HMSA Foundation will mean that thousands of youth and the adults who work with them will learn how to prevent suicide and bullying,” says Grambs.

  • University of Hawaii, School of Social Work – The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work and Ha Kupuna, National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are working together to improve the health and well-being of kupuna, or Native Hawaiian elders, on Oahu. Specifically, their project will organize and promote workshops and community presentations, and will expand the existing Ha Kupuna website to make it more culturally appropriate and easier for elders and caregivers to use and understand. Grant amount – $43,084.

  • Catholic Charities Hawaii – Catholic Charities Hawaii co-hosted the 10th Annual Hawaii Conference on Assessing, Treating, and Preventing Child, Adolescent, and Adult Trauma. This conference covered a broad spectrum of topics, training, and presentations for prevention and treatment of abuse. Culturally competent approaches were introduced to health care professionals serving the underserved population and Native Hawaiians. Grant amount – $15,000.

  • St. Francis Healthcare Systems of Hawaii – The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics will present its 10th International Bioethics Conference, Caring for our Kupuna: Balancing Human Dignity and Economics on Friday, August 9, 2013, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. The Ethics Center has assembled internationally known speakers and local experts in the areas of bioethics, economics, and insurance to address the ethical aspects of caring for the elderly. Grant amount – $10,000.

  • Hawaii DARE Officers Association – The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program will present new DARE curriculum to elementary and middle school students in Maui County. This curriculum, titled “Keeping It Real,” consists of interactive lessons designed to help students from kindergarten through the 9th grade assess risks associated with substance abuse, enhance decision-making and resistance strategies and skills, and improve anti-drug beliefs and attitudes. Grant amount – $5,000.

  • Hawaii Surfing Association – Mentoring Court-Referred at-Risk Youth with Surfing is a program to connect young boys and girls with role models. Surfers who have successfully blended careers, family, and surfing will help court-referred youngsters grow into outstanding, contributing members of the community. Grant amount – $5,000.

The HMSA Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt private charitable organization. It was founded in Hawaii in 1986 as a public foundation with the goal of stimulating research aimed at some of the pressing issues that confronted Hawaii’s health care industry. In 1997, the Foundation was converted to a private foundation to allow for larger contributions from donors, such as HMSA.

The mission of the HMSA Foundation is to extend HMSA’s commitment to provide community access to cost-effective health care services, promote health, provide health education and relevant research, and improve social welfare in Hawaii.

Health plan premiums from HMSA members and employer groups are not used to fund Foundation grants. Foundation grants are funded with annual investment income earned on its original endowment. For more information on the HMSA Foundation, visit