David and Lucile Packard Foundation: Grants for Science Research


OVERVIEW: Packard supports research that protects the environment emphasizing marine conservation and climate change. It is also known for the esteemed Packard Fellowships.

IP TAKE: The foundation prioritizes the real-world applications of science research, especially projects with a real impact on environmental conservation.

PROFILE: 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. Founded in 1964 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. Packard combines it’s science research program with its conservation program.

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 “invests in action and ideas that conserve and restore ecosystems while enhancing human well-being.” 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. 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 average between $25,000 and $200,000. To get a feel of the types of organizations Packard supports, explore its excellent grants database. The foundation accepts letters of inquiry this program.

It is worth noting that the Science program is unique within the Conservation and Science suite in that it ties in directly with the storied Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. The Packard Fellowships seek out 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,

Information about eligibility for the Fellows program can be found here. Instructions for seeking project support vary from program to program.