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Name in the News: Christine van Bergeijk By Vicki Viotti April 13, 2018

Christine van Bergeijk points out the white tern that has settled, somewhat permanently, into a tree outside her Fort Street Mall office. The executive at Hawaii Community Foundation has been generally focused in recent years on permanent housing for the homeless at locations around the state, but she rather enjoys seeing this creature find a home right close at hand. Van Bergeijk, 60, is the foundation’s senior vice president of strategies, initiatives and networks. That long title covers a lot of projects to which she may increasingly turn, now that HousingASAP — the coalition effort that with HCF direction and funding ramped up services to the homeless — has moved into a new more-supportive phase.

KAT WADE SPECIAL TO THE STARADVERTISER Senior Vice President of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Christine Van Bergeijk.

The Indiana native worked previously as economic development division manager for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, as a technical consultant for the U.S. Administration for Native Americans and as a planning officer for the nonprofit jobs program, Alu Like Inc. She is the married mother of two and an avid cyclist.

The HousingASAP coalition has expanded and still holds its meetings with HCF. Van Bergeijk applauds its efforts to draw in more landlords by having nonprofits hold the master lease on a rental. That gives the landlord more confidence and the tenant an edge in competing for the affordable rental opportunity, a fairly rare commodity. While she acknowledged that there are homeless who will need lifelong help, she also sees individuals and families who do get beyond it, with a little assistance. “I think a lot of our organizations are getting much better at figuring out what level of supports someone needs and only giving them that much — not overresourcing the family that doesn’t need it,” she said.

“We have a lot of folks that they need help for a limited amount of time, and they need to know that that is a limited amount of time.” QUESTION: What initiatives, other than HousingASAP, does the foundation have? ANSWER: HCF’s initiatives are an investment toward long-term, high-impact change for Hawaii. We take on complex community problems that require a number of years to resolve, involve multiple funding partners and provide supports other than just grants. In addition to our family homelessness initiative, we currently have community initiatives focused on increasing the supply of fresh water across the state; increasing the academic success of high-risk middle school students; integrating social emotional learning curricula into schools; and improving the system of care for young children with developmental and behavioral health challenges. And we are looking at designing an initiative around improving the civic participation of our youth and communities. Q: What do you think of the proposal for ohana zones? A: They’ve been called “tent cities” and “safe zones,” and now we have a new thing, “ohana zones.” But I think what we’re talking about is a temporary place. Whether it has security, and water and restrooms and all that, it’s still a temporary place. In a way, it’s taking public resources and helping manage people in a state of homelessness. It is not resolving the issue of homelessness. Q: How would you characterize the progress made on the homelessness crisis? A: Homelessness continues to be an intractable community problem with few easy answers, but we have begun to address it by creating a better response system targeting the needs of families and individuals. We see some evidence that this work is paying off. In 2017 we saw a 19 percent reduction in family homelessness statewide. There are some core principles that we adhere to as we undertake the work. First, the shelters and service providers know their communities well and they need support to build a more effective and coordinated system together. Secondly, it is critical that we use performance data to identify which programs are successfully moving more people into housing and helping them to stay there so that we can continue funding them and holding them accountable. Lastly, we need to make sure that we have resources that target different levels of vulnerability. Some families may need a boost to help them get back on their feet. Others with multiple challenges will need more support for longer periods of time. … Q: What was the HCF’s funding support and other roles in HousingASAP? A: HCF was joined by 12 other private funders in designing and supporting the HousingASAP network. Together, we committed $4 million for a three-year effort.

HCF managed the initiative and was involved in all aspects of the operations. We provided grants to eight of the state’s largest family homeless shelters to change their business models, strengthen their programs, data collection and staffing. We contracted with expert facilitators and provided the leadership of each organization with regular executive coaching and we collected and analyzed their performance data on a quarterly basis. … Q: Now that the coalition includes more members, how has the foundation’s role changed? How can momentum be sustained? A: After three years, HCF has transitioned the stewardship to the network itself. We spent the last year helping the group get clear around why it wanted to stay together and how they would assume a bigger role. … We have provided funding support for regular meetings, professional development and training, launch of a coordinated entry system, and data collection. I have been deeply impressed with this group of people and the addition of six new organizations has increased the momentum. They are smart, resourceful and incredibly dedicated to helping the people they serve to improve their situation. Q: How does the foundation balance all the competing needs for charity funds? A: As a community foundation we are responsive to the philanthropic interests of our donors. Those interests span a wide variety of topics and community issues. The value that HCF adds is found in the knowledge we have of our communities and the relationships that we have with hundreds of community organizations and leaders to help our donors achieve real tangible impact with their charitable contributions. Because we have 850 charitable funds at HCF, we have a lot of bandwidth in terms of the issues we can affect. Q: How has philanthropy changed? Do foundations need to change their fundraising strategies? A: Donors today have a growing desire to tackle difficult social problems and they aren’t afraid to participate in that level of problem-solving. Philanthropy used to be content to fund solid, well-respected nonprofit organizations doing good work and that is certainly still important. There is an emerging willingness to invest in new ideas, innovations and experimentation in the face of significant challenges faced by our communities and environment is a welcome development. It does mean that anchor institutions like HCF must be smart about where we dedicate our efforts. We have to look for networks, coalitions and collaborative efforts with a commitment to delivering measurable results and invest in them. When they don’t exist, we have to be more proactive in helping to create them. … Q: Can you describe the foundation’s approach to making the most of the funding it deploys?

A: While HCF gave nearly $60 million in grants and scholarships last year, that number is a drop in the bucket given some of the need in our communities. To have meaningful and lasting impact, we work from two angles. First, we provide donors or funding partners with insight we’ve gained in the areas they care about. We help them understand the dimensions of an issue so that they can identify the opportunities to make the most impact. Second, we make sure that we are working with nonprofits and community partners who are delivering real results in that same area. ‌ We are passionate about ensuring that scarce resources are used wisely. We are sort of matchmakers with a mission.

Profile for Hawaii Community Foundation

Name in the News: Christine van Bergeijk  

April 13, 2018 Van Bergeijk, 60, is the foundation’s senior vice president of strategies, initiatives and networks. That long title covers a...

Name in the News: Christine van Bergeijk  

April 13, 2018 Van Bergeijk, 60, is the foundation’s senior vice president of strategies, initiatives and networks. That long title covers a...

Profile for hcfhawaii