How the Hewlett Foundation Is Bringing Parks to the People

San Francisco was home to William and Flora Hewlett, and today their Foundation gives back to the Bay Area community in a big way. In particular, the Hewlett Foundation’s Serving Bay Area Communities program is focused on preserving open space and getting people back outdoors. Through a variety of grants, the Hewlett Foundation is ensuring San Francisco preserves and increases its park space.

Every year for the past few years, the Hewlett Foundation (see IP's profile) has made at least a few grants toward conserving open space in the Bay Area. Frequent recipients in the past have included the Trust for Public Land and the Greenbelt Alliance. The Trust for Public Land runs a program called Parks for People, which is focused on revitalizing old worn-out local parks in the Bay Area into vibrant community areas promoting neighborhood health and sustainability. The Parks for People program received a $400,000 grant in 2009, $200,000 grants in 2011 and 2012, and a $250,000 grant in 2013. Meanwhile, the Greenbelt Alliance is also focused on improving the quality of life for San Francisco residents by creating healthy places and fighting suburban sprawl. The Greenbelt Alliance has been receiving grants from the Hewlett Foundation since 2001. Meanwhile, several Hewlett grants have gone toward supporting Greenbelt's Bay Area Open Space project. In 2013 they received $440,000 for their Sustainable Communities Strategy project.

Although the Hewlett Foundation has its favorites, it’s not impossible for other organizations to get their attention. In 2012, the San Francisco Parks Alliance received $150,000 for the Blue Greenway— an effort to create 13 miles of parks, trails, and open space along the City’s south eastern waterfront.

In San Francisco, less than half of all children 15 years of age and younger live within walking distance of a park. This limits their ability to play outdoors, exercise, and reconnect with nature. Working with various organizations, the Hewlett Foundation has supported the growth and revitalization of San Francisco’s park space.  Grantees interested in promoting parks in the Bay Area should send the Hewlett Foundation a note— their Environment Program accepts unsolicited letters of inquiry.