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News Release

July 23, 2012
HMSA Foundation invests in programs for a healthy community

Robyn Kuraoka
(808) 948-6826

The HMSA Foundation awarded $255,000 in grants to eight local health programs and community organizations in the second quarter of this year. One of those grants will support the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and its efforts to fight childhood obesity.

According to the American Heart Association, childhood obesity is the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. “This is a disease,” says Mark Forman, HMSA Foundation executive administrator, “one that could lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression if left untreated.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture started phasing in school meal standards this month. When students return to school in August, school lunches will have both fruits and vegetables every day in larger portions, new calorie and sodium limits, and fat-free milk, regardless of the flavor. But healthier school meals are just one part of the solution.

“Hawaii’s unique multicultural and geographical character creates challenges to addressing obesity,” says Dr. May Okihiro, director of JABSOM’s Hawaii Initiative for Childhood Obesity Research and Education (HICORE). “Grants such as these help us to address the problem with innovative, multilevel, multidisciplinary approaches.”

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.

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

HMSA Foundation grants awarded in the second quarter included:

  • Aha Kane – Foundation for the Advancement of Native Hawaiian Males – The grant supported the Aha Kane 2012 Native Hawaiian Men’s Health Conference, which addressed issues of Native Hawaiian male leadership and community involvement by focusing on cultural history and the roles of Native Hawaiian men. Health screenings were also provided to empower participants to make positive changes in their lifestyles. Grant amount – $10,000.
  • East Hawaii IPA Foundation – The grant supports the East Hawaii IPA Annual Healthcare Symposium, entitled “Healthcare in Transition: Current Trend.” It is scheduled for Aug. 17-19, 2012. Grant amount – $10,000.
  • Honolulu Theatre for Youth – The grant helps the Honolulu Theatre for Youth adopt the award-winning novel, Call It Courage, for a play dedicated to the social development of children. Grant amount – $25,000.
  • Hospice of Hilo – The grant supports establishing a palliative care center in their new inpatient hospice facility that will serve the entire island of Hawaii. Grant amount – $60,000.
  • Lead 4 Tomorrow – The grant supports community-based, peer-led parenting support programs for families with children ages 0-5. Grant amount – $20,000.
  • Lunalilo Home – The grant supports training Lunalilo Home staff in the latest elder care practices developed by a Harvard physician and supported by a network of leading care homes nationwide. Grant amount – $5,000.
  • Na Hoaloha/Maui Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers – The grant supports assisted transportation for seniors with disabilities seeking health and medical care. Grant amount – $5,000.
  • University of Hawaii, JABSOM, Department of Pediatrics – The grant will help activate and assist community leaders and organizations to create environments that support healthy eating and active living for children and families. Grant amount – $120,000.