The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Name of Foundation: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Location: Menlo Park, CA

Contact Information:

Phone: 650-234-4500

Coverage Area: International, depending upon program area.

 Subject Area: Education, environment, global development and population, performing arts, philanthropy, cyber security, democracy

Assets: $9.0 billion

Last Year Total Giving: $400,398,000 awarded (2015); $357,000,000 disbursed (2015)

In a Nutshell:

Originally called the William R. Hewlett Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation was founded in 1966 by its namesakes to fulfill their deeply rooted beliefs in the importance of charitable giving. In its first ten years it made roughly $15.3 million in grants, giving to causes that remain the primary focus of the organization today: “education, population, and the arts, as well as environment, health, and vital services to support the needy in the San Francisco Bay Area.”  It has since grown to be the sixth largest foundation in the United States with more than $9 billion in assets.

Both William, of Hewlett-Packard fame, and Flora grew up in California’s Bay Area, and their commitment to supporting that region is still evident today despite the Foundation’s now-global reach. The Hewlett Foundation’s headquarters – California’s first Gold-level LEED certified building – can be found in Menlo Park, California. Four Hewlett family members continue to sit on the organization’s thirteen-person Board of Trustees, which helps guide the Foundation’s commitment to solving social and environmental problems through investments in programs, leaders and infrastructure around the world. The work of the foundation is steered by the goal of helping people “build measurably better lives.”

Major Program Categories

The Hewlett Foundation supports a wide array of programming and organizations. Most of these fit into its five grant areas: education, the environment, global development and population, performing arts and philanthropy. Within most of these program areas, outlined in greater detail below, there is a niche to support disadvantaged communities of California’s Bay Area. The foundation’s four “special projects” also show the ways in which the organization emphasizes learning and evaluation, and pushing the boundaries of traditional giving.

Special projects include the Madison Initiative, through which a $50 million investment has been directed toward “addressing the problems of political polarization and hyper-partisanship” in Congress. The foundation has also partnered with the Irvine and Packard Foundations to create the Community Leadership Project, focused on the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley. It recently concluded a nuclear security initiative, and is in the midst of spearheading a cyber initiative to “address a broad range of topics that impact the security, stability and resilience of a free and open Internet and connected devices.”

The specific goals of each of the foundation’s five core grant areas are

  • Education: Goals of grants in education focus on education reform in California; development of Open Educational Resources, or online tools for “teaching, learning and research resources” that exist in the public domain and support “access to knowledge”; programs that advance “deeper learning,” or ways to engage with core academic content such as English, math and science in a way that emphasizes the skills of critical thinking, collaboration, effective communication, and a heightened academic confidence for students. Recent grant recipients in the field of education include The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, America Achieves, Inc., and ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career.
  • The environment: Environmental support has been aimed at wildlife conservation in the Western U.S. and Canada; clean and efficient energy supply within the U.S. with a special focus on transit and transportation options; worldwide reduction of greenhouse gases; tackling environmental issues affecting the Bay area such as expansion of urban parks and outdoor recreation programs for youth. Some of the latest grant recipients in this area include the Native American Rights Fund, the transportation-focused Shared Use Mobility Center, and the David Suzuki Foundation for its fellowship program.
  • Global development and population: The Foundation’s support in this area emphasizes high-quality education and children’s learning, as well as “family planning an reproductive health” on a global scale. Grants also support the use of quality resources and analysis to guide policy-making in developing countries, and increasing transparent and accountable governance around the world. In the San Francisco Bay Area and California’s Central Valley, grantees work to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy through support of reproductive health services, abortion services and effective sexuality education. Recent recipients of Hewlett Foundation grants in this area include Population Services International, African Population and Health Research Center, Inc., and Advocates for Youth.
  • Philanthropy: The foundation’s philanthropy program category works to increase information available to donors about nonprofits’ efficacy and performance. It has also funded projects to “influence and improve funders’ thinking and decision making” through research, analysis and the creation of tools for more strategic giving. The latest philanthropic grants have been given to FSG Social Impact Advisors, BoardSource, and Stanford University.

How to Apply: A majority of the foundation’s grants are given to organizations and programs identified by the foundation itself. The foundation is currently (as of June 2016) accepting unsolicited Letters of Inquiry only in the areas of environmental programs and performing arts programs. Click here for more specific guidelines about the grant application process. 

Recent News and Grantmaking:

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Elizabeth Green
About Elizabeth Green 39 Articles
Elizabeth Green is the community outreach and education manager for Fostering Media Connections, and a general assignment reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change.