Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Climate Change

OVERVIEW: This is the family foundation of the late William Hewlett, (co-founder of computing giant Hewlett-Packard), his wife, Flora, and their children. The foundation's climate giving is a subprogram of the Environment Program, one of five main areas of giving.

IP TAKE: Hewlett is pretty accessible, and the foundation spreads its money fairly far and wide to lots of different types of groups beyond its largest grantee, ClimateWorks.

PROFILE: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation raised the bar for climate change funding in 2008 with the launch of the $1 billion, joint climate-funding initiative, the ClimateWorks Foundation. That year, Hewlett awarded ClimateWorks two grants, for $20.4 million and $460.8 million, that accounted for 85% of all grants in 2008. Most of that funding was to seed ClimateWorks, a foundation that uses best practices and targeted giving to tackle the problem of climate change across the globe. The partnership includes Packard and McKnight and has drawn a number of other supporters, but Hewlett has been the largest backer to date and continues its strong support. Hewlett's most recent check to ClimateWorks was for $100 million. 

Hewlett's former president, Paul Brest, charted a strategic, outcome-focused grantmaking strategy, and ClimateWorks has been, in large part, the foundation's effort to direct orchestrated funds to the idea. Many of the organizations that ClimateWorks gives to, in fact, were established and guided by its own leadership. ClimateWorks sends funding to organizations in five regions across the world. In the United States, the main partner group is the Energy Foundation, which focuses on clean energy policies in the United States and China. The Energy Foundation also receives direct funding from Hewlett and in 2014 received a $16.35 million two-year commitment from Hewlett, as well as an additional 3.6 million.

But not all of Hewlett's climate change giving passes through ClimateWorks and the Energy Foundation. After deducting the massive ClimateWorks grants, Hewlett still awards millions annually to other climate change organizations. Grantseekers can find Hewlett’s climate change grants through its Climate and Energy subprogram, which focuses on reducing greenhouse gasses through the following areas: 

  • Clean energy and the reduction fossil fuel use. This area of giving lasers in on increasing renewable energy use (think solar, wind and geothermal) and energy efficiency.
  • Clean transportation. Hewlett focuses its clean transportation giving on increasing fuel efficiency as well as access to alternate methods of transportation such as biking, walking and public transportation.
  • Building and increasing public support. This area of giving focuses on growing public support among diverse members of the community of clean energy and transportation efforts. 

As one of the more accessible of the larger foundations, Hewlett does accept letters of inquiry. In all cases, though, it's important to note that Hewlett is heavily focused on quantitative outcomes in a project, that its climate projects are usually related to affecting policy, and that the foundation comes at this issue from a global perspective.


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