During its first decade, the foundation made approximately $15.3 million in grants. The range of grantmaking reflected the Hewletts’ lifelong interests in other cultures and societies, and in improving the quality of life of people locally and globally. Early grants were made to organizations in education, population, performing arts, environment, health, and vital services to support the needy in the Bay Area.
In these years, the Hewlett Foundation operated like many of the 50 other Bay Area family foundations with assets greater than $500,000 — a conservatively managed hybrid of family philanthropy and community trust. Years later, Walter would characterize this time as grantmaking through “networks” rather than “categories.”