William and Flora Hewlett Foundation: Bay Area Grants

OVERVIEW: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has a global presence but a place in its heart for the San Francisco Bay Area. The foundation's performing arts program is the only one focused solely on the Bay Area. However, portions of the education, environment, and global development & population programs are dedicated to local causes as well. 

IP TAKE: Hewlett favors education, performing arts and environmental grants in the San Francisco area, especially ones that benefit the region's poorest areas. You'll need to fit within a very specific niche to get a Hewlett environmental grant, although the arts program is a bit broader. 

PROFILE: With total assets of around $9 billion, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is one of the largest grantmaking organization in the Bay Area. It provides support to many different organizations in the region and Central Valley, and awarded over $400 million across 726 grants in a recent year. Grantmaking has been slowly but steadily on the rise in the recent years.

The foundation got its start in 1966 by making contributions to San Francisco Bay organizations to support education, arts, environment, health, and social services. It was created by William Hewlett, cofounder with David Packard of the infamous computer company Hewlett-Packard, and his wife Flora. As a way to stick to the foundation's focus areas but also support unrelated causes in the city, the Hewlett's formed a second philanthropic foundation, the Flora Family Foundation, giving the younger family members a way to get involved.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's local focus revolves around four areas: education, performing arts, environment, and population. In education, programs that further the use of open education resources receive priority. The education program favors organizations that improve education reform in California and raise educational achievement in disadvantaged Bay Area communities as well.

In the arts programs, most projects have a common thread, which is to provide arts equity and education to underserved youth. At a seminar about trends in Bay Area arts funding, Hewlett emphasized the importance of artistic engagement, arts education, and organizational infrastructure. Pitch an arts proposal that would give California students equal access to arts education by providing the organizational infrastructure to make it happen. In the environment area, Hewlett favors programs that promote accountable governance, use high-quality research, and address environmental concerns in the Bay Area's poorest neighborhoods.

Hewlett's Serving Bay Area Communities has awarded around $17 million in grants annually in one of its areas of interest. A vast majority of these grants have gone towards performing arts, with environmental grants coming in a very distant second place. Last time we checked, only the environment program was accepting unsolicited letters of inquiry for its Serving Bay Area Communities grantmaking. None of the other programs have been accepting inquiries for this program lately. Check the foundation's Grantseekers page for updated information about what programs are accepting LOIs. 

If you're looking for a reproductive and sexual health grant out of Hewlett's Bay Area grantmaking, be aware that the foundation is very specific in supporting organizations that work toward reducing and preventing teen pregnancy in the Bay Area and Central Valley. Not that Hewlett's Population Program won't fund other great causes. It's just particularly focused on teen pregnancy in its local area, not to mention the fact that the Central Valley has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state of California. 

As far as the Bay Area environment program related grants go, consider ways that your nonprofit can improve urban parks, support outdoor recreation programs for youth, or improve public transportation. A letter of inquiry comes first, and a full application comes later. For general inquiries, you can complete the foundation's online form or call to 650-234-4501. 


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)