The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts, and population. In addition, the Foundation has programs that make grants to advance the field of philanthropy, and to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Foundation's work is informed by three fundamental values:
First, the Hewlett Foundation is concerned primarily with solving social and environmental problems. This requires that staff defines program objectives, grants, and other activities in terms of problems to be solved; identify indicators of progress and criteria for evaluating success; and be prepared to stay the course.
Second, the solutions to serious problems are seldom known with anything close to certainty. The Foundation must therefore be prepared to experiment and take risks in its philanthropic activities. This, too, entails clear objectives and measures of success, without which staff cannot know how the risk eventuated. It also requires a willingness to acknowledge and learn from failures.
Third, grantee institutions—nonprofit organizations and, in some cases, government entities—are essential partners in achieving the Foundation's mission. This explains the high proportion of the Foundation's grants budget allocated to general operating support. It also implies a concern not only for the health of individual organizations, but for the fields in which they operate.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is wholly independent of the Hewlett-Packard Company and the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation.