Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Conservation

OVERVIEW: Hewlett's Environment Program makes grants to conserve the North American West, expand clean energy, and address climate change. To that end, it has four goals: conserve the ecological integrity of the western US and Canada for people and wildlife, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure clean and efficient energy supplies, and reduce environmental problems that disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities in the San Franciso Bay Area.

    IP TAKE: Hewlett explicitly values grassroots groups in global development, but its biggest funding dollars tend to support larger NGOs with which it often has longstanding commitments. Those commitments can make it difficult for newcomers to secure funding.

    PROFILE: Established in 1966, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation was founded by engineer and entrepreneur William R. Hewlett and his wife, Flora Lamson Hewlett, with their eldest son, Walter Hewlett. The foundation is a nonpartisan organization that prioritizes the advancement of education for all, the environment, developing countries, the health and economic well-being of women, performing arts, strengthening Bay Area communities, and make the philanthropy sector more effective.

    The foundation supports environmental work across the globe, with a special affinity for the Bay Area in California. Hewlett spreads its money widely, and the number of small grants that Hewlett gives out to small organizations is striking. Also, Hewlett is all for funding very progressive organizations such as the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. The foundation has made a clear commitment to addressing environmental issues in low-income communities of color. When it comes to the environment, Hewlett supported a range of strategies, from mobilizing fly fishermen and backing inner-city activists to bankrolling mainstream policy organizations and supporting legal challenges on behalf of conservation. To find a full list of grantees, click here.

    Overall, Hewlett tends to fund well-established organizations in the global development space. Grantseekers should note that this is a foundation that deeply values better data, so it funds a lot of research, assessment, and data collection projects. 

    While the Hewlett Foundation’s largest related grants do tend to favor the bigger players in this field, it also funds smaller organizations. The foundation's median grant size is about $125,000, but grants can run into the millions. Hewlett has both the capacity and the will to fund both one-off projects and organizational operating support, and often sticks with its grantees for many years.

    Hewlett gives out hundreds of grants a year. To get a good sense of its global development grants, dig into its excellent grants database, which can be searched various ways.  

    The foundation regularly posts calls for proposals, but it is also proactive in its grantmaking, and reaches out to potential grantees that are doing good work in sync with its goals. While Hewlett does accept unsolicited letters of inquiry, it rarely funds projects in response to those LOIs. But it does look at the inquiries and its staff often engages with grantseekers who are referred by existing grantees.


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