Response to support recovery: CDP announces the first grant from the Hawaii Wildfires Fund

Maui, Hawaii (Aug. 14, 2023) - FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams begin registering Hawaii Wildfire survivors for assistance. (FEMA photo by Dominick Del Vecchio/Released)

On Aug. 17, I was honored to host a Center for Disaster Philanthropy webinar titled Hawaii Wildfires: What will recovery look like? to share information with our philanthropic friends and partners just days after the devastation of the wildfires that burned Maui became clear to the world.

Our guests on that webinar were open, honest and raw about their experience and the needs of this island community. We learned that recovery from wildfires is complicated, and recovery in an island setting will be massively complex. The cultural impact adds to the devastation, as the burned areas are steeped in history, generational knowledge and experience.

Go local

At CDP, we always encourage philanthropy to support local organizations whenever possible and to listen to those in the community for their needs and how to help best address them. And, though we typically use our available funds to support mid-to-long-term recovery, granting three, six or even 12 months or longer after a disaster event, we practice what we preach and teach: We listen to locals. We hear what they’re saying and honor what they ask of us.

For this reason, we determined that providing some of our support immediately is essential. We are grateful to announce our first grant from the CDP Hawaii Wildfires Recovery Fund.

The Maui United Way received $125,000 for its disaster relief fund to provide direct cash assistance to those who lived in the fire impact zone. The process they’ve quickly established to deploy these funds is equitable, accessible and supports those most critically in need. Though our funding will certainly not cover all this community’s needs, we hope to help start the process and encourage others to join us.

We know that getting unrestricted cash support in survivors’ hands helps start the long recovery process. And the sooner we can set forth on that recovery path, the sooner we will see a healing community.

Next steps

We will continue to make grants to support equitable recovery from the wildfires. We know this process is long and requires thoughtfulness, grace and patience. Hawaiian leaders and activists have asked for time to grieve what has been lost, and the people of Lahaina must have a voice in the plans for rebuilding and recovery.

If you want to help us support local, culturally appropriate and equitable recovery in Hawaii, please consider donating to the CDP Hawaii Wildfires Recovery Fund. You can also contact us for any questions about how to engage in the island’s recovery process.

Sally Ray

Sally Ray

Director, Domestic Funds