MENLO PARK, Calif. and SEATTLE, Wash. – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced today that they will collaborate on a series of grants totaling at least $60 million to improve the quality of education at the primary and secondary school levels in the developing world.

The unusual partnership between two of the country’s largest private foundations calls for the Gates Foundation to give the Hewlett Foundation $40 million over three years to design a strategy and administer grants to improve learning outcomes mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Those regions have the lowest levels of student achievement in the world.  The Hewlett Foundation has committed at least an additional $20 million to the work.

Together the foundations will fund large-scale demonstration projects to develop techniques to improve the quality of education that children in these regions receive, and through evaluation and advocacy will broadly apply the lessons learned. This work will take place during the next three to four years.

“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is proud to partner with The Hewlett Foundation with this grant in support of the Quality Learning Outcomes Initiative,” said Sylvia Mathews, president of the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The efforts underway towards achieving universal access to education in the developing world are critically important.  Now it’s crucial to also make sure students everywhere are learning what they need to lead productive lives. We hope this work puts quality of education on the world agenda and will serve as a catalyst for other international efforts.”

Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest also welcomed the collaboration.

“This leverages the resources of both foundations with the aim of addressing a key barrier facing the poor-lack of genuine educational opportunities,” he said. “It also is an implicit recognition that profound social problems are interrelated. It’s difficult to reduce poverty, improve health or raise the status of women over the long term without also extending to the poor access to a quality education.”

The decision of the foundations to collaborate reflects the Gates Foundation’s recognition of Hewlett’s ongoing commitment to education in the developing world.  The Gates Foundation’s work in the developing world focuses on reducing poverty, improving health and expanding access to information.

Access to education has been a priority in international development for decades.  For example, since 1990 the World Bank alone has spent more than $12 billion in support of primary education in the developing world, and during the past decade its efforts have increased enrollment levels in 12 countries by an average of 19 percent, according to a study by the Independent Evaluation Group, an autonomous unit of the Bank.

With higher student enrollment there is a growing recognition that more attention must be paid to the quality of education. By focusing on quality, this partnership marks a major step forward, building on international efforts to make a primary school education available to children everywhere.

The Hewlett Foundation will oversee grants to organizations whose work will focus specifically on assuring that students in developing countries not only attend school but also master the skills necessary for advanced learning, work opportunities, and full civic participation.

Both foundations hope that their work will create momentum to make the delivery of quality education a high priority in international efforts to educate children.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequities and improve lives around the world. In developing countries, it focuses on improving health, reducing extreme poverty, and increasing access to technology in public libraries. In the United States, the foundation seeks to ensure that all people have access to a great education and to technology in public libraries. In its local region, it focuses on improving the lives of low-income families. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and Co-chairs William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates.

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1966 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 all the Hewlett Foundation’s grants can be found at