David and Lucile Packard Foundation: Grants for Marine Conservation

OVERVIEW: Packard is one of the largest foundations in the country, and much of its environmental funding involves oceans. In 2016, the foundation evolved its focus to address six countries, and four global strategies. Giving still focuses on topics such as seafood markets and fisheries, marine birds, and protecting and restoring marine habitats. 

IP TAKE: It varies strategy-to-strategy, but Packard generally accepts inquiries and ideas, but not unsolicited proposals. Packard's ocean conservation grants are awarded through its larger Conservation and Science Program. 

PROFILE: Established in 1964, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation seeks to improve "the lives of children, families, and communities – and restoring and protecting our planet." David and Lucile first met at Stanford through philanthropic efforts long before David established Hewlitt-Packard. Today the couple's children and grandchildren oversee the foundation. One of seven programs, Packard conducts its marine conservation grantmaking through its Ocean program. 

The Packard Foundation's Ocean program seeks to help the world's oceans recover from overfishing, climate change pressures, and illegal fishing. The foundation has significantly grown its interest in marine conservation beyond its conservation funding. The program conducts basic research connected to marine conservation. Its marine conservation efforts specifically aid the United States, Mexico, Chile, Indonesia, China and Japan to "ensure that fishing and marine aquaculture are sustainable and to protect places that are vital to maintaining biodiversity and wild fish stocks." In addition, the program seeks to:

  • Promote global markets for sustainable seafood.

  • Eliminate unregulated (IUU) fishing, or illegal fishing, around the world.

  • Protect seabirds and shorebirds and their habitats.

  • Understand and proactively address the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the ocean.

While the Packard foundation is a well-known funder of marine conservation, it invests a significant portion of its grantmaking in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. David Packard founded the aquarium and research center, and today the foundation maintains its commitment to both through the years. 

In the next five years, Packard has committed $550 million to oceanic issues; however, $350 million supports MBARI. Packard’s evolved ocean framework reflects a 15-year strategy.

In addition, the foundation has long supported both supply- and demand-based approaches to make the seafood industry more sustainable. Packard's commitment emphasizes research, policy, and policy enforcement. The foundation also works on building capacity for the sector.

The Ocean program reflects several country-specific strategies as well. Across its six countries of interest, the foundation seeks to ensure that fishing and marine aquaculture are sustainable, and to protect habitat that is vital to marine biodiversity:

  • United States: Still emphasizing the West Coast, including fisheries and protecting habitats.

  • Mexico: Capacity building, as well as fisheries, habitats and aquaculture.

  • Chile: Protecting habitats and sustainable seafood production

  • Indonesia: Fishery management, policy reform, and marine reserves.

  • China: This is a budding program, and will focus a lot on developing the network of funders and NGOs working on the issue there.

  • Japan: Focus again on seafood, including major buyers and traders, policy, and incentivizing sustainable practices.

The Packard Foundation other programs conduct a variety of marine conservation-related grantmaking, which overlap with its Ocean program. For instance, Packard invests in its Science program, which funds various kinds of research, among them oceanic conservation research. Grantseekers should deeply research all of Packard's programs as many are shifting their focus and overlapping with marine conservation. 

Program staff will consider brief emails, but grantseekers should continue acquainting themselves with Packard's website, impressive grants database, conservation reports on past giving, and our own IP posts. 


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)