Richard King Mellon Foundation Announces Disaster-Relief Assistance for Hawai’i after Maui Wildfire

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 5, 2023) – The Richard King Mellon Foundation today announced $1 million in grants to support recovery efforts on Maui after the tragic August 8 wildfire there.

At least 115 people were killed in the wildfires, and others still are missing. Historic Lāhainā in Western Maui largely was destroyed by the wildfire.

“As the Governor of Hawai‘i I am humbled, and as a Pittsburgh ex-pat I am extremely proud that such a generous donation is coming from the hometown of my youth. On behalf of the people of Maui, I extend my sincerest mahalo, or thank you, to the big-hearted board of trustees of the Richard King Mellon Foundation,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D

The $1 million will be distributed through three grants:

  • $500,000 to the Maui Strong Fund. The Hawai‘i Community Foundation is utilizing the Maui Strong Fund to support emergency-relief efforts such as food, housing and animal rescue.
  • $300,000 to Pittsburgh-based Brother’s Brother Foundation, also for Maui disaster-relief efforts. The Foundation worked with Brother’s Brother Foundation to support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico in 2017.
  • $200,000 to Maui Preparatory Academy for student scholarships. The school year already has started in Hawai‘i, but many students on Maui no longer have schools to attend. Maui Prep still is operating, and has seen a significant increase in students seeking to enroll.

Green, the Hawai‘i governor, is a Pittsburgh native, and made an appeal to his hometown for help. “I bleed Black and Gold,” Green told Pittsburgh’s KDKA TV. “I would be honored if the people of Pittsburgh supported the people of Hawai‘i.”

The Foundation’s philanthropic grantmaking largely is concentrated in the Pittsburgh area, but its conservation program is national, and through that program it has awarded funding in Hawai‘i. The Foundation helped to conserve one of Hawai‘i’s most treasured native forests, on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, in 1995.

The Foundation also has assisted with relief efforts in response to other extraordinary natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005, and recovery efforts after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010.

“With the Foundation’s significant commitment to conservation in Hawai‘i, and our history of assisting with disaster-relief efforts elsewhere, the Foundation’s trustees were eager to step up and help to show Pittsburgh’s support of Maui in its hour of dire need,” said Foundation Director Sam Reiman.

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About the Richard King Mellon Foundation: Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2022 year-end net assets were $2.8 billion, and its Trustees in 2022 disbursed more than $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.