MENLO PARK, Calif. – From supporting the community fight to clean the air at the Port of Long Beach, to ensuring broad-ranging cultural offerings in the San Francisco Bay Area, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation made $39.9 million in grants in 2008 to 143 organizations serving diverse and disadvantaged communities in California.

Organizations receiving grants ranged across California in the Foundation’s four primary areas of grantmaking in the state: the environment, population, education, and performing arts. Among highlights of the grants awarded are:

Environment – Protecting the Poor from Pollution in Their Communities

The Environment Program made $5.3 million in grants to support 38 California organizations that address environmental issues in the state’s most economically disadvantaged communities. Through these grants, the Program works to improve the quality of life for these communities with urban parks, recreation programs for youth and a range of other programs.

In 2008 these grants included $120,000 to the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a leader in pursuing a healthy environment and living-wage jobs that will benefit the region’s poor and middle class. A key member of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, the Alliance is working to implement a clean air plan for the Port of Long Beach, and to monitor progress toward an agreed-upon 85 percent reduction in truck emissions at the port over the next five years.

The San Francisco-based Latino Issues Forum, the only statewide Latino organization with an environmental focus, received $200,000 to help reduce air pollution from diesel trucks, implement the state plan to decrease pollution from freight transportation, and realize plans California approved in 2007 to cut ozone and soot pollution.

Population – Extending Sound Reproductive Health Choices to All

The Population Program gave $3.5 million in grants to 10 organizations in California to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy and enhance reproductive rights, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

A $610,000 grant went to the New Generation Health Center at the University of California, San Francisco, to provide teen-friendly reproductive health care for young people aged twelve to twenty-four in a neighborhood with high rates of unintended pregnancy. Funds will support the clinic’s core services aimed at cutting the number of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and providing low-income youth with support and information to make sound reproductive health choices.

Among the Program’s grants was one for $35,000 to Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice in Oakland, which promotes the reproductive health and rights of Asian American women and girls. The grant will enable it to develop a three-year plan to improve its fundraising among institutional, grassroots, and major individual donors.

Education – Supporting Reform, from Single Schools to Whole Systems

The Education Program awarded $20.6 million in grants to 43 California organizations in 2008. The Program funds a broad array of efforts to improve the state’s public education from kindergarten to community college. Grants range from support for individual projects within a single school district to research into broad systemic issues.

In Oakland, a $100,000 grant to the East Bay Community Foundation will enable it to complete its work with the Hayward Unified School District to create before- and after-school programs, which are designed to improve student performance and increase the involvement of parents. To date, all components of the project have achieved measurable success – particularly efforts to more deeply engage parents in their children’s achievement. An important finding was that parents who have never been involved in the district’s schools are, in fact, highly motivated to support their children’s education and will do so with effective outreach.

A $500,000 grant went to the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Auxiliary in El Cajon for a program that shares important data between California high schools and community colleges to coordinate curricula. The program, called the California Partnership for Achieving Student Success (or Cal-PASS), lets schools and colleges share more than 279 million records to align curricula and improve instruction so students transition more easily from one level of education to the next. For example, the partnership confirmed that expectations community colleges have about incoming students regarding proficiency in English and math vary across the state’s 110 community colleges. To reduce this variation, the current grant will fund fifteen Cal-PASS professional learning councils to work toward shared standards between the high schools and community colleges in their area.

Performing Arts – Embracing the Cultural Expressions of All Arts

The Performing Arts Program made $9.4 million in grants to 46 organizations that reduce barriers for low income and diverse communities in the Bay Area to access and participate in the arts. The Program’s grantmaking supports organizations that often work at the intersection of arts and youth development, civic engagement, and economic development.

For example, a $201,000 grant will help the Loco Bloco Drum and Dance Ensemble in San Francisco’s predominantly Latino Mission District provide free after-school drumming, dance, theater, and circus arts classes annually to 500 kids aged four to eighteen. The company presents year-round concerts, performs before thousands at city parades and operates a cultural exchange to connect local youth with young artists in Latin America. One-third of the young people with whom Loco Bloco works come from families making less than $20,000 a year, half are children of immigrants, and two-thirds speak a language other than English at home. Forty-five percent are African American, and 40 percent are Latino; half the audience for Loco Bloco’s public performances is under the age of twenty-five. With this first-time general operating support from Hewlett, the Ensemble will be able to grow its board and increase its individual fundraising efforts.

Another grant, for $75,000 to Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana in San Jose, will enable the multidisciplinary arts space rooted in the Latino experience to increase administrators’ salaries and improve its facility to enhance the performance experience for artists and audiences. MACLA produces and presents live theater, visual art exhibitions, and youth-focused literary events ranging from performances by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz to year-round Teen Poetry Slam workshops and shows. Each year 16,000 people attend low-cost or free productions at MACLA, and many more use its facility for rehearsals, community meetings, and performances.

A full list of Hewlett Foundation grantees, along with links to their Web sites, is available here.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.