The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has had a strong commitment to working in the Bay Area from the very beginning in 1966 — a legacy of our founders and a reflection of their values. Support for local performing arts has been a constant, including more than $335 million in grants over the years, but there has always been additional work in the region. That has taken different forms, consistent chiefly in its focus on disadvantaged people and communities.

Since 2007, local giving beyond the performing arts has been made primarily through the Serving Bay Area Communities (SBAC) fund. In spring 2017, using Outcome-Focused Philanthropy, we set out to explore other ways we might structure our local grantmaking to use these resources most effectively. Our first step was to gather information to better understand the array and nature of the problems this region faces. We began with other foundations that work locally.

This paper synthesizes the guidance we received from 21 foundation leaders. These conversations deepened our understanding of local challenges, including the many different perspectives on ways to address them. We are deeply grateful for these leaders’ generous, thoughtful, and candid advice.

This paper is not a primer on their foundations’ work and interests, nor is it a comprehensive canvass of the many issues discussed in the interviews. It does not reflect what the Hewlett Foundation will ultimately do with SBAC. Its purpose is simply to memorialize the themes that emerged in these conversations and share what we have learned.