David and Lucile Packard Foundation: Grants for Science Research

OVERVIEW: Packard tends to back research that supports its work toward protecting the environment, with a strong emphasis on marine conservation and climate change. It's also known for the esteemed Packard Fellowships.

IP TAKE: Real-world applications of science research are a key element of gaining this funder’s attention. If your project can translate into a real impact on environmental conservation, this is a funder to approach.

PROFILE: Founded with the goal “to improve the lives of children, families, and communities—and to restore and protect our planet,” Packard boasts a multi-billion dollar endowment and gives hundreds of millions in grants annually.

The family foundation of computing pioneer David Packard, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has consistently been in the top tier of United States funders. Packard's science research program is combined with its conservation program, making for an interesting blend of priorities.

Packard’s approach to research is "linking knowledge with action," which means that the projects they fund seek to take scientific research and get it into the hands of decision-makers or others who can take action on it to further progress.

Its Conservation and Science program “is focused on ocean and land conservation, climate change mitigation, and scientific research.” The program merges its research funding with its environmental funding, meaning each piece of the program is often tied directly or indirectly to the other. With grants spread over “public policy reforms, changes in private sector practices, and scientific activities,” there is a lot of room for funding here.

While Conservation and Science program has a number of subprograms related to climate change and conservation, the science component—also tied in with climate change and conservation—awards grants to “support creative, timely research to spark fresh thinking and produce effective, innovative solutions.”

Most grants tend to come in at the $50,000-to-six-figure range. To get a feel of the types of organizations Packard supports, explore its excellent grants database. Letters of inquiry are accepted for this program.

It’s worth noting that the Science program is unique within the Conservation and Science suite in that it ties directly in with the storied Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. The Packard Fellowships seek out the most promising early career professors. At the beginning of every year, the foundation invites 50 university presidents (what it terms “Invited Institutions”) to nominate two of their top early career professors. Of the nominees, 18 fellows each year will be selected to receive grants of $875,000, spread out over five years.

Past fellows can be identified by searching the program’s Fellows Directory,

You can read more about eligibility for the Fellows program here. As is the case with the degree of their openness to new applicants, instructions for seeking project support vary from program to program.

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