OVERVIEW: The Flora Family Foundation is a multi-generational family philanthropic enterprise endowed with a small part of the fortune of William R. Hewlett (co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company) and his late wife Flora at its center. Its giving is wide-ranging, and includes support of education, the environment, the advancement of women, arts and culture, civic engagement, and global security throughout the U.S. and around the world. It supports a wide range K-12 education programs, including individual schools, community programs, and education management non-profits throughout the U.S. and beyond.
IP TAKE: The Flora Family Foundation puts the K-12 age group and the forefront of its education investments. But this foundation does not accept unsolicited requests, so the first order of business is to find a way to connect with the family and the foundation’s board and staff.
PROFILE: The Flora Family Foundation was established in 1998 by the family of William R. Hewlett (co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company) and his late wife, Flora. (Before any unnecessary confusion occurs: This foundation is a wholly separate entity from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Hewlett-Packard Company, and the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation.)
The Flora Family Foundation was created upon “the belief that each individual has an obligation to go beyond the narrow confines of his or her personal interests and be mindful of the broader concerns of humanity.”
Be mindful that by “personal interests,” this foundation refers to the “greater good” of society as opposed to individualistic needs. For most of us, “personal interests” has come to mean our own hobbies, passions, and pursuits, and in this sense, the Flora Family Foundation does indeed pursue its own interests—that is, the interests of the individual family members behind the foundation.
This is particularly important because the Flora Family Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or inquiries, and its general direction of giving is sculpted by Hewlett’s children, grandchildren and their spouses—and therefore the giving is in sync with their interests and connectivities. A portion of the Hewlett family also makes up the foundation’s board (along with two non-family members), serving one or two year terms, then rotating out.
The good news is that this is a family with a wide variety of interests. Generally speaking, the foundation supports education, civic engagement, the advancement of women, the environment, arts and culture, and global security by giving grants to organizations in both the U.S. and abroad.
Formally speaking, the foundation has no geographic restrictions. But taking in the totality of its recent granting reveals that it does favor particular geographic regions, which most often coincide with where its board members and/or family members reside. San Francisco and the Bay Area is unquestionably the foundation’s favorite location; Southern California and Nashville, TN, also receive extra attention.
Education plays a significant role in the foundation’s giving, in both “favorite locations” and beyond. Within this giving area, K-12 education is most certainly at the foundation’s forefront.
The ways in which the foundation is willing to earmark its grants to your K-12 education program is varied. The Flora Family Foundation has funded start-up expenses, program initiatives, capital improvements, media productions, and general operations. Of general operating support, the foundation is keenly aware that, "[t]his form of support is particularly valuable to nonprofit organizations.”
The Flora Family Foundation’s support of K-12 education comes in many forms, including direct support of individual schools, non-profit education management initiatives, and community programming. Recent grants in the K-12 education realm include:
- $98,000 over two years to Firelight Foundation (based in Santa Cruz, CA) for its Innovations in Early Learning project in Tanzania;
- $55,000 over two years to the Madrasa Early Childhood Programme (Zanzibar, Tanzinia) for its community outreach work, given through the Flora Family Foundation’s partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.;
- $50,000 to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA) for its K-12 education programming;
- $50,000 to the San Francisco Ballet for its Center for Dance Education;
- $40,000 to Bridges Middle School (Portland, OR) for support during its transition from Providence Health and Youth Service organization to independence;
- $40,000 over two years to Enrich LA (Los Angeles, CA) for general support;
- $40,000 over two years to Urban Teacher Center (Baltimore, MD) for general support;
- $36,000 to Envision Education (Oakland, CA), with $30,000 for support of its Equity Team and $6,000 for “the development of a curriculum to address the racial achievement gap;”
- $30,000 to University School Nashville for its Flora Family Foundation Scholarship endowment;
- $25,000 to Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (Berkeley, CA) for its Capital Campaign;
- $20,000 to the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education for its Food for Thought initiative;
- $10,000 over two years to The Hotchkiss School (Lakeville, CT) for support of The Hotchkiss Fund;
- $5,000 to the Schools Mentoring and Resource Team (San Francisco, CA) for computer lab improvements;
- $5,000 to Farmington View Parents for Academic Excellence for its math program;
- $2,500 to Westwind Riding Institute (Los Altos, CA) for general support.
The Flora Family Foundation not only prides itself on its “flexibility and responsiveness to needs and opportunities as they arise across the entire public benefit sector”—it describes this as the foundation’s “hallmark.” When you’re able to create an opportunity to connect with a family and/or board member, pitching your K-12 education program in the context of this hallmark is a good place to start.
- Steve Toben, President