Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation broadly funds education, education, the environment, global development & population, cybersecurity, and the performing arts.

IP TAKE: Higher education fundraisers should focus their energies on Hewlett’s Education, Environment, and Global Development and Population programs. Check the Grantseekers page to find out which programs accept unsolicited letters of inquiry. The foundation also funds special initiatives on a case-by-case basis, and has a heavy interest in serving the San Francisco Bay Area.

PROFILE: The central mission of the Hewlett Foundation, established in 1966 in Palo Alto, CA, is "to promote the well-being of humanity," by addressing "the most serious problems facing society." The foundation invests in education, the environment, global development and population, the Bay area, cybersecurity, and the performing arts. 

Hewlett does not prioritize higher education institutions, but it offers through its Education program, which largely emphasizes K-12. However, postsecondary institutions  have received grants for pedagogical research in the past. The foundation’s two main strategies in this program are Deeper Learning, which emphasizes “a set of six interrelated competencies: mastering rigorous academic content, learning how to think critically and solve problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, directing one’s own learning, and developing an academic mindset,” and Open Educational Resources, which refers to “high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are free for people everywhere to use and repurpose.”

Hewlett also supports higher education through its Environment in the form of research grants benefitting university research. However, the foundation limits higher education funding through this program.  Hewlett’s Climate and Energy strategy supports “cleaning up power production, using less oil, using energy more efficiently, preserving forests, addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gases, and financing climate-friendly investments.” Its Western Conservation strategy is “dedicated to preserving the vast open spaces of the West as unspoiled landscapes where wildlife thrives, communities flourish, and ranchers maintain their history of stewardship.”H ewlett also “makes grants to proactively define, research, and manage the burgeoning intersections between people and digital technologies” through its Cyber program. On occasion, California universities and art schools receive Hewlett funding for “artistic expression and encourage public engagement in the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area” through its Performing Arts initiative. Most performing arts grants for higher education are renewals, but this is one of the few programs at Hewlett that accepts unsolicited applications.

Grants typically range from $100,000 to $1 million, but may go even higher. Browse the foundation’s grants database for more information on its recent grantmaking habits. The foundation often prioritizes California in its grantmaking, though it makes some grants beyond the state. Most of its programs do not accept unsolicited proposals, so grantseekers should familiarize themselves with the guidelines for each program.

Applicants should review Hewlett’s Grantseekers page to determine which programs are currently accepting unsolicited letters of inquiry.

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