1822 Keeaumoku St., Ulu Center, Honolulu, HI 96822 programassistant@phocused-hawaii.org 808.521.7462

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is PHOCUSED’s mission?

A: PHOCUSED is a membership and advocacy organization for health and human services in Hawaii, which works together with community stakeholders to impact program and policy change for the most vulnerable in our state.  Our commitment to the people is reflected in our name – Protecting Hawaii’s Ohana, Children, Under-Served, Elderly, and Disabled.  We are guided by the shared commitment of our members to protect the interest of Hawaii’s most vulnerable people.

Q: What are PHOCUSED’s main programs?

A: PHOCUSED has two main programs: Advocacy and Facilitation.

  • Advocacy: We advocate for vulnerable populations, as well as the Health and Human Services sector, insofar as it seeks to provide vulnerable populations with quality programs and services. Our advocacy for vulnerable populations focuses on the four overlapping core areas of the Social Determinant of Well-Being: Housing (especially Affordable Housing and Homelessness), Economic Justice, Health, and Education.
  • Facilitation: Because PHOCUSED is so close to the Health and Human Services Sector, but is not a direct-service provider, we can often fulfill a facilitator or pilot-administrator role for key HHS-related endeavors. We did this with Case Conferencing for Homeless Service Outreach workers and the Coordinated Entry System for Families experiencing Homelessness.

Q: What are your strategies?

A: We believe that collaboration and collective impact are key to creating systems-level change for vulnerable populations in the state. Together, our member organizations are able to magnify their individual voices—as we all know, in nonprofit advocacy 1+1 = more than 2!  Perhaps most importantly, we believe that it is the consumers of HHS services that know what they need and should be empowered to ask for it. We ask that our member agencies work with their consumers to raise their voices along with the organizations themselves.

To create effective collaborations, we network, participate in any number of roundtables, working groups, research endeavors, etc. Lastly, we do our best to communicate effectively with the community through traditional and new media platforms.

Q. Has your mission changed?

A. No, PHOCUSED still exists to protect vulnerable populations. By adding the advocacy of addressing critical issues faced by the Health and Human Services Sector, we hope to ensure that the programs which many vulnerable populations rely on from housing, homelessness services, and early education to workforce development and health clinics, are able to meet their needs.

How is PHOCUSED different than HANO?

A: HANO (Hawaii Association of Nonprofit Organizations) explains that it is a large house for all nonprofits, where each room of the house might be seen as a focus area of those nonprofits (education, arts, sciences, etc.). Health and Human Services organizations make up about 60% of HANO’s members, which makes us the largest room in the house. However, HANO cannot only focus on HHS nonprofit issues to the detriment of other focus areas. HANO and PHOCUSED are reciprocal members and work closely together on areas of overlap. The collaboration between the two entities continues to be very healthy and effective.

How is PHOCUSED different than Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice?

A: PHOCUSED benefitted tremendously from having Appleseed Co-Director Victor Geminiani as a founding Board Member. Today, we benefit tremendously from having Co-Director Gavin Thornton serve on our Board and collaborate as one of our Executive Director’s closest peer advocates. The two organizations find strength in each other. For example, Appleseed is able to activate the membership of PHOCUSED for their key issues, and PHOCUSED can rely on the research and policy expertise of Appleseed. We work extremely closely, support each other as both organizations and staffs, and find it easy to fill in for each other to benefit vulnerable populations on a variety of issues (which in the overburdened/under-resourced world of nonprofits can be critical). Lastly, because Appleseed also does litigation, they benefit from PHOCUSED being able to harness key relationships we have that Appleseed does not.

How are dues determined?

A: The dues for PHOCUSED’s members are related to the size of the organization’s operating budget. All Health and Human Services organizations are doing a tremendous amount of work despite increasing demand, flat contract rates, and increasing costs. We understand that dues to PHOCUSED can be difficult. However, advocacy that benefits all of the Sector should be shared by the Sector. Most importantly, we advocate for the people you wake up everyday to serve to the best of your ability. Advocacy is much more difficult to raise funds for through grants and contracts, as most are oriented to direct-service provision. We believe, and our members believe, that the collective impact of all of our voices working together to advocate for systems-level changes to benefit vulnerable populations matters, and it matters enough to put forward dues to fund that advocacy.