From helping Maine middle schoolers monitor ecosystems to studying student debt in community colleges, the Board of Directors of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation authorized $81.8 million in new grants to 124 organizations this spring.

Organizations receiving grants ranged across the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the world in the Foundation’s six primary areas of grantmaking: education, population, global development, the environment, performing arts and philanthropy. Among the highlights of the grants awarded in March are:

Bringing Free Educational Tools to Everyone

The Education Program made $19,518,000 in grants to 27 organizations.

Among those grants is $900,000 for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which will work with the Hewlett Foundation’s Education Program to create a demonstration project on the ways that free, online educational resources can improve public school education. The project, called Vital Signs, will use 32,000 laptop computers already supplied to seventh and eighth graders in Maine schools to collect and analyze data needed to monitor Maine’s freshwater and coastal ecosystems for invasive species.

A $600,000 grant will go to The Institute for College Access & Success, which studies the growth of student debt and how that debt affects whether they succeed in school. The Berkeley-based institute, which was founded in 2004 with seed money from Hewlett, has studied the issue nationally and will begin to explore the underuse of financial aid in California’s community colleges. Currently far fewer students apply for financial aid than are eligible even though significant numbers of them cite a lack of funds as a reason for quitting. Improving K-16 education in California has long been a focus of the Hewlett Education Program’s work.

Supporting Effective Contraception

The Population Program, which funds work on family planning and reproductive health regionally and worldwide, made $13,936,000 in grants to 20 organizations.

A grant of $1.4 million will go to Oxfam Novib, an international development and humanitarian agency based in The Hague, The Netherlands, to draw global attention to the benefits of expanded access to, and use of, the female condom in developing countries. The female condom remains the only existing female-initiated contraceptive method that prevents both pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.

Hewlett funds will support Oxfam Novib’s three-pronged approach: the development of cheaper female condoms; the launch of large-scale outreach and service delivery programs in three developing countries; and intensified international advocacy to mobilize new resources and political commitment for female condom use.

Tracking Aid and Impact in the Developing World

The Global Development Program, which is dedicated to reducing extreme poverty in the developing world, made $17,505,500 in grants to 26 organizations.

As part of the Program’s strategy of encouraging transparency and accountability in the way public funds are allocated and spent, the Foundation is giving $500,000 to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, to develop an online database with comprehensive information on foreign aid projects. The database will provide citizens, government officials, and researchers with better data to track where aid dollars are going and what impact they are having.

To encourage equitable development in agricultural markets, the Foundation is making a grant of $2.1 million to the Consumer Unity & Trust Society, a nongovernmental organization in India, which will open an office in Geneva to assist developing countries in international trade negotiations. The grant will also support the Society’s offices in Kenya and Zambia on regional trade policy initiatives.

Protecting the North American West

And to further efforts to protect the North American West, the Foundation made a grant of $3 million to Trout Unlimited. Trout Unlimited is a national organization of conservation-minded anglers who use science, public policy and volunteer activity to conserve trout and salmon fisheries and tackle other conservation issues. The organization has 150,000 members and 400 chapters nationwide. The goals of this grant are to increase protection of roadless wilderness, reduce federal leasing of oil and gas development rights on public lands in the West and reduce development of coal-bed methane deposits.The Foundation’s Environment Program, which works throughout the North American West, the nation and the world to reduce carbon omissions and protect open spaces, among other goals, announced $22,765,000 in grants to 16 organizations.

As part of the Program’s work to broaden the conservation movement to reflect California’s diverse population, the Foundation made a grant of $170,000 to continue support for the San Francisco-based Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. Among the Center’s goals are to ensure that pollution agencies adopt a particulate-matter plan and set higher emission standards for diesel trucks.

Nurturing Bay Area Diversity in the Arts

The Performing Arts Program, which supports a broad range of performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, made $6,420,000 in grants to 38 organizations.

To increase understanding of diverse cultural expressions, one of the goals of the Performing Arts Program, the Foundation made a grant of $180,000 to the Berkeley-based Tibetan Association of Northern California. The association’s mission is to empower Tibetan Americans to thrive in the United States while promoting continuity and development of Tibetan social, cultural and artistic traditions. This grant will enable the Tibetan Association to provide performing arts education to more than 2,000 Tibetan Americans and others, diversify its funding and continue to provide traditional performances.

Strengthening Philanthropy

The Philanthropy Program, which makes grants to promote effective charitable giving, made $1,890,000 in grants to six organizations.

Among the grants this spring was one for $500,000 to SeaChange Capital Partners in South Norwalk, Connecticut, which is working to direct more charitable donations to high-performing nonprofit organizations. Founded in 2007 by former managing directors at Goldman Sachs, SeaChange works to bring the techniques of investment banking to the nonprofit sector. It hopes to build a network of wealthy people who agree to consider the organizations it has identified.

A full list of the most recent organizations funded, along with links to their Web sites, is available on the Grants page of the Hewlett Foundation Web site.

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. A full list of the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found here.