Most grantmaking is based on finding organizations that fit with the Foundation’s strategies. But the Foundation recognizes that sometimes unanticipated problems and opportunities arise that require flexibility in how we respond. The Foundation reserves funding each year to support special projects that do not necessarily align with the Foundation’s primary strategies.
Here are some of the ways the Foundation has taken advantage of this flexibility:
Hosting initiatives that might (or might not) eventually become part of the Foundation’s primary strategies. An exploratory initiative on nuclear nonproliferation began with the grant to Stanford University for support of the conference Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.
Supplementing program budgets when unexpected opportunities arise. The grant to the Oberlin Dance Collective to renovate its facilities was made in collaboration with the Performing Arts Program.
Supporting selected national media organizations. This category included grants to National Public Radio and to the Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association for support of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Supporting social science research that informs the Foundation’s strategic pursuit of its goals. We made grants to Harvard University to support applying insights from behavioral economics to improving the lives of the world’s poorest people, and we continued to fund work at Princeton University by Daniel Kahneman, Alan Krueger, and their colleagues on the measurement of well-being.
Supporting think tanks and related institutions, some of which are especially concerned with international relations. This included grants to Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, and Pacific Council on International Policy, plus a grant from the Extraordinary Reserve for the China Law Center at Yale Law School.
Supporting key academic and cultural institutions. This included a matching grant to the University of California at Berkeley for endowed faculty chairs, and a grant to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
Supporting evidence-based policymaking and common values. This included support of the Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation, New America Foundation, and Public Agenda Foundation toward a responsible U.S. fiscal policy, and grants to the Center for Governmental Studies and the Commonwealth Club of California to launch an initiative (now called California Forward) for governance and fiscal reform in California.
The Hewlett Foundation is not accepting unsolicited Letters of Inquiry for its Special Projects grantmaking.