California Education

Freshman students

Two freshmen work together on an assignment at a KIPP school in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Hewlett-funded study affirmed that students in Bay Area KIPP schools significantly outperform students in surrounding public schools on standardized tests.


The challenges confronting California’s schools and colleges are many and complex, from uncertain funding to low test scores to far too many students graduating from high school unprepared for either college or the workforce. In response, the Hewlett Foundation is committed to help improve the overall quality of the state’s pre-kindergarten, kindergarten-12, and community college systems.

To that end, the Hewlett Foundation in 2011 helped establish the California Education Policy Fund, which will make grants to support innovative organizations working to reform state policy with an emphasis on closing the achievement gap for the neediest students. It replaced direct grants from the Foundation’s Education Program while maintaining the Program’s commitment to reform of education policy in the state.

The Foundation selected Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit organization with a proven track record in managing complex, multi-million dollar philanthropic projects, to oversee the Fund. In selecting Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Education Program sought a partner with strong capability in grants management; experience in strengthening grantee organizations through evaluation, feedback, and strategy; the ability to partner with policy experts in Sacramento; and a commitment to reaching new donors to build the Fund.

A grant award committee comprising education reform experts in California will advise Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which has sole responsibility for the funding decisions. The Hewlett Foundation has representation on the Fund’s advisory committee, but will play no role in determining grant awards.

The Fund will invest in a diverse portfolio of charitable organizations working on statewide policy including but not limited to:

  • Standards and accountability
  • Data systems
  • Effective teaching
  • College readiness
  • Finance reform

Typically, three-year general operating grants are awarded to organizations and institutions that work in research and analysis, communications, advocacy, community organizing, or technical assistance to improve conditions for state policymaking to raise student achievement. The Fund will select organizations with a strong track record and a well-developed plan to reform state policy, with an emphasis on boosting achievement and increasing college readiness and success for disadvantaged students. 

Directions for submitting Letters of Inquiry to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors are available on its website,

For more information about the Education Program's support of California education, please read the Program's strategic plan.