Al Castle

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The history of our relationship with Bank of Hawaii goes back to the very beginning, as the Castles were some of the bank’s original depositors in the 19th century. The work of our foundation started in the 1830s, but the entity wasn’t incorporated until his widow established it after the death of my great-great grandfather, Samuel Northrup Castle, in 1894. Samuel Castle was a founder of Castle & Cooke Corporation, which helped establish the financial base for the foundation’s ongoing philanthropy. We have used the services of Bank of Hawaii to help oversee the foundation’s investments since soon after it was first set up.

My great-great grandmother, Mary Tenney Castle, came to Hawaii as Samuel N. Castle’s second wife. Before coming to Hawaii she fought for all kinds of social reforms. She was college educated, an abolitionist, a suffragette, a temperance advocate, a feminist and an early-childhood education reformer.

The foundation’s efforts focus on creating greater social equality and opportunity through access to high-quality early education. In the early days, that meant access to kindergarten. As an abolitionist 130 years ago, Mary Castle insisted that no race or ethnicity should be factored into the work of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, and her values and her vision for social reform still inform our decisions.

Our greatest gift to the people of Hawaii has been the kindergartens. The early kindergartens were intended for all residents of Hawaii, but had a special impact on Native Hawaiians and immigrants. The Castle Kindergartens were always open to children of all ethnicities. They were set up on a sliding payment scale so that the poorest people paid nothing or very little to give their children a good start to their education. To ensure that Hawaii’s children had the very best early educational opportunities, the foundation invested in teacher training from the very beginning and still does to this day.

Today, we see a demographic bump in three-year-olds, and are leveraging resources to help increase facilities and training so that good quality early education for this age group is more available across the state. By funding the research and writing of a grant application in 2015, we were able to help bring $15 million in federal funds to Hawaii to add tuition-free preschools to existing culturally based charter schools, especially in rural areas.

We set up the foundation’s office in its current location mainly because of its close proximity to Bank of Hawaii. We see the relationship as an important partnership in helping us with our mission. The bank has historically been the chief investment officer for the foundation, managing our fixed income and our equity selections.

With only two employees, the foundation is open seven days a week so that we can be available when it’s convenient for the teachers and directors of the schools we support. Bank of Hawaii helps us be cost effective. Carol Tom and her team oversee all of our financial record keeping, our bill paying and our annual audit. With their help, there’s a seamless approach to our accounting and our work in the public in making our grants.

I appreciate the bank as a partner. We’re very grateful to Carol and her team, and everyone at Bank of Hawaii. They are easy to work with, and very smart about what needs to be done to keep the foundation operating at an optimal level so that we can continue to provide high-quality early education opportunities to new generations of Hawaii’s children.

2018 Annual Report

Creating moments. Delivering dreams.

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