The Gromet Foundation was founded in 1990 by Mr. Ben Gromet in memory of his late wife, Janice. Mr. Gromet himself passed away in 1992.
Mr. Gromet was born into poverty. His father was killed when he was 11 years old and his mother died when he was 15. His only other relative as a half-sister who was unable to care for him. Since it was the middle of the Depression and having no alternative, he left the 8th grade and signed on as a cabin boy on a freighter. He spent his adolescence working as a deck hand on various freighters and was never able to return to school.
After World War II, Mr. Gromet became a salesman and moved to Hawaii. Although he had little formal education, he became a well respected businessman in Honolulu and amassed a considerable fortune. He is well remembered by many of the business and community leaders in Honolulu today.
Mr. Gromet and his wife did not have any children, but they both greatly enjoyed helping young people. The Gromet Foundation was created to help children who are financially disadvantaged obtain the best education possible.
Mr. Gromet created the Gromet Foundation about three years before his death in 1992. There were only a couple of grants during his lifetime as he was trying to figure out exactly what the shape of the Foundation should be. He finally decided that the Foundation should provide scholarships to bright students from Hawaii who had suffered the same difficult financial situation that he had as a child.
Ben Gromet’s friend and business partner, Chuck Rolles, and his friend and lawyer, Jim Stubenberg, advised Ben on the structure of the Foundation. After Ben passed away, Chuck and Jim began the work of building the Foundation.
Today, the Gromet Foundation is one of the largest scholarship providers in the State of Hawaii. Several hundred students have benefitted from the program, and there are currently over 100 students in various colleges and universities throughout the country. Many of the Gromet scholars are very active within the Foundation itself.