Starting Monday, March 16, our Menlo Park office building will be closed, and all staff will work remotely as part of the community’s effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer explained that “the building may be closed, but the foundation remains open.” Staff will continue working full time to ensure that foundation processes continue uninterrupted while observing the type of social distancing necessary to reduce the spread of infectious disease.
Our office in Menlo Park houses all 120 staff, whose work supports charitable grants of more than $400 million per year made to some 1,400 organizations across the globe to educate youth, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen the philanthropic sector, and address timely, pressing problems like U.S. democratic dysfunction and cybersecurity.
We are closely monitoring information about COVID-19, mindful of the impact that the public health situation is having on our grantees, their employees, and the wider communities they serve in some three dozen countries. The foundation already provides unrestricted and flexible support to most grantee organizations, and we are exploring the best ways to assist them during this time of uncertainty—including greater flexibility around grant requirements, reporting timelines, budgets, and the like. Organizations that receive Hewlett grants and find their work affected by COVID-19 should contact their program officer to discuss how best to handle challenges, including cancelled travel and events, remote work or staff on leave, and additional expenses or delays in planned activities. Program staff will be open and flexible in thinking through with our grantees and other partners how best to adapt existing funding as the effects of COVID-19 evolve.
As part of the San Francisco Bay Area community, we are also responsible for doing everything we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 closer to home. In addition to closing the building temporarily, the foundation is restricting travel and cancelling or postponing several events and meetings. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these kinds of social distancing measures can help slow the spread of COVID-19. In the absence of a vaccine or other preventative medication, these measures are the most useful public health tool we have to reduce community spread of the virus.
We expect all of our work to continue without interruption and will reevaluate our office closure in early April. Please direct additional questions or comments to Vidya Krishnamurthy, director of communications, at email@example.com.