Our History

Our History

David and Lucile Packard were philanthropists long before they helped transform a small electronics shop in their garage into one of the world’s leading technology companies, Hewlett-Packard. They formalized their passion for philanthropy in 1964 when they established the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. 

David and Lucile intentionally did not write down a vision for the future of the Foundation. They believed that no one could foresee what the future would look like and wanted the Foundation to be able to evolve and adapt to the challenges of an ever-changing world.  

David and Lucile’s children and grandchildren have taken an active role in the work of the Foundation, alongside general trustees and professional staff, and continue the important work that David and Lucile started.

Today, the values of the Foundation deeply reflect the history and philosophy of the Packard family’s approach to philanthropy and continue to guide the Foundation and its vision for a just and equitable world where both people and nature flourish. 



A family’s tradition of giving becomes official

David Packard, one of the founders of the technology company Hewlett-Packard, establishes a family foundation with his wife, Lucile Packard.


Program areas emerge and Foundation giving increases

In 1971, the Foundation has five defined areas of grantmaking: Conservation and Ecology, Cultural, Education, Health, and Youth and Minority. Just over $100,000 in awards are authorized that year.


The Packard Foundation hires staff, opens an office, and expands giving

The Foundation begins to expand operations and staff. Although grantmaking stays aligned with David and Lucile’s interests and values, more staff and space are needed to support a growing body of giving.


Foundation invests in Peninsula Open Space Trust to protect open space, farms and parkland in fast-growing, expensive Silicon Valley

The Foundation joins with local visionaries to launch the Peninsula Open Space Trust, conserving lands on the San Francisco Peninsula. With the Foundation’s support, the Trust has now protected over 70,000 acres in perpetuity.


Pueblo Advisory Board created to anchor lasting community grantmaking where David Packard was born and raised

The Foundation creates the Pueblo Advisory Board to support grantmaking in Pueblo, Colorado, where David Packard was born and raised. As of 2014, nearly $19 million in grants have been made to nonprofits in the area.


Foundation begins extended relationship with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

The Foundation begins its extended relationship with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, which goes on to become one of the largest food banks in the nation, serving nearly 250,000 people each month.


Local community foundations empowered to create new ways for people to invest in the region

To help people invest in their community, the Foundation provides its first assistance to start a community foundation – this one in Santa Cruz County, which works to make the region a better place to live, now and in the future.


David Packard starts a program to focus on the fundamentals of nonprofit success

David Packard begins the Management Assistance program with a core belief: Organizations are more effective when they are equipped with thoughtful strategy, strong leadership, and sound operations.


The Packard family opens an aquarium to reach new generations of ocean conservationists

In October 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium officially opens its doors after years of planning and construction. The aquarium project is led by marine scientists, local residents, and several members of the Packard family, including David and Lucile Packard.


The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) is established for basic humanities and to foster public interest in the history, literature, and music of the past

The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) is established in 1987 to create tools for basic research in the Humanities and to foster public interest in the history, literature, and music of the past.


Global Fund for Women advances women’s human rights and dignity with support from the Packard Foundation

To advance the rights of women and girls, the Foundation incubates the Global Fund for Women by providing office space and funding as it begins operations. The Fund invests in women-led organizations and women’s leadership.


The Packards fund the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, a world-class center of excellence

David and Lucile Packard donate over $40 million and personal leadership to design, build, and open the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. The Hospital goes on to be ranked in the top ten nationally, the youngest institution ever to achieve this honor.


The Foundation invests $18.8 million in Historically Black Colleges and Universities to advance STEM fields between1987-2002

To strengthen education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known today as STEM) and train new professionals, the Foundation invests $18.8 million in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Foundation creates Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering to bring fresh thinking to complex issues

The Foundation awards its first Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering to bring fresh thinking and perspectives to complex issues. As of 2014, eighteen Fellowships are awarded annually providing $875,000 over five years to each promising professor to advance his/her research.


The Foundation purchases the historic Stanford Theatre to protect and restore “the Pride of the Peninsula.”

To protect and restore “the pride of the Peninsula,” as it was known when it first opened in 1925, the Foundation purchases the historic Stanford Theatre.


Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute established as a leading center for oceans research and education

The Foundation creates the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, a leading center for research in ocean science. Institute scientists go on to author more than 1200 reports and build the first U.S. deep-ocean observatories.


Inaugural issue of The Future of Children published to translate best social science research for policy recommendations affecting children

Issue one of The Future of Children, a journal translating the best social science research about children into information that is useful to policymakers, grant-makers, advocates and others, is published by The Packard Foundation.


Math, science, and technology education improved at tribal colleges in the United States

Over ten years, the Packard Foundation invests $20.6 million in colleges established by Native American Tribes, supporting science, mathematics, and technology education at these schools.


Low-interest loans help conserve 1.6 million acres of land valued at more than $1 billion

The Packard Foundation provides funding for land acquisition and a variety of conservation projects in 10 western states. Investments of more than $150 million protect 1.6 million acres of land valued at more than $1 billion.


The safe medical abortion drug mifepristone is brought to market in the U.S.

Grant and loan support from the Packard Foundation is key to bringing the safe medical abortion drug mifepristone to market in the United States. The Foundation’s investments keep the distributor afloat during the lengthy FDA approval process.


The Packard Foundation helps establish the social franchising model while expanding family planning services in India

Family planning work in India helps build the concept of social franchising. The Foundation funds Janani, which operates more than 100 clinics, advises government on policy, and develops contraceptive technologies.


Conserving California Landscapes Initiative protects spectacular Golden State landscapes

The Conserving California Landscapes Initiative is launched to protect scenic and environmentally significant areas. $148 million in grants and $55 million in program-related investments leverage private and public funds to preserve 450,000 acres.


China Sustainable Energy Program improves energy efficiency and use of renewable resources

The Packard Foundation funds creation of the China Sustainable Energy Program, connecting China with experts from around the globe for advice on energy efficiency and renewable resources.


Family planning and reproductive health bolstered through leadership development in highest-need countries

The Packard Foundation cultivates leaders for family planning and reproductive health work in selected nations. More than 2,000 people participate in leadership development programs that deliver knowledge, strengthen skills, build commitments, and expand vision.


From Baja to Bali, protecting some of the world’s most biologically important coasts and marine areas

The Packard Foundation creates two subprograms, one focusing on the Gulf of California and the other on the Western Pacific, to help protect some of the world’s most biologically diverse marine habitats.


Implementation of State Children’s Health Insurance Program brings health coverage to millions of kids since the program’s inception

The Children’s Health Insurance Program brings coverage to millions of kids. Packard Foundation grants to children’s and health policy organizations speeds implementation; support of research brings better understanding of issues.


Plan B emergency contraception medication guided to market when other support was limited

The Packard Foundation plays a major role in bringing Plan B emergency contraception medication to the market. Grants and program-related investments aid development, testing, preparation for FDA approval, training and education. Over the next fifteen years more than 15 million U.S. women benefit from its use.


PRACHAR Project improves the reproductive behavior of adolescents and young adults in Bihar, India

The Foundation invests in the ambitious PRACHAR Project, an initiative by Pathfinder International that goes on to successfully delay the age at which participating women have their first child, an indicator long thought to change only through broad secular improvements in social and economic contexts.


Foundation helps acquire and restore thousands of acres of salt ponds along the San Francisco Bay shore and Napa River

In a landmark public-private partnership, the Packard Foundation teams with the Moore and Hewlett Foundations and others to purchase 16,500 acres of salt ponds along the San Francisco Bay shore and Napa River to turn them into wetlands and tidal marshes.


Foundation’s ten-year commitment to achieve the ambitious vision of voluntary quality preschool for all three- and four-year olds in California helps ultimately to serve nearly 300,000 children who need access the most

With growing scientific understanding of the importance of early learning for college graduation and success in life, the Foundation focuses its education grantmaking on advancing public policy changes that provide funding and directives ensuring all children can access the quality preschool experiences they need to succeed in school and beyond.


Marine Protected Areas deliver conservation, stability to more than 16 percent of California’s coastal waters between Santa Barbara and Mendocino counties

Foundation provides critical support and leadership for a public process to design California’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The interconnected statewide network of MPAs is the first of its kind in the United States.


Packard Foundation commits to reversing the decline of marine birds as a contribution to the restoration of sustainable marine ecosystems

Seeking to reverse the decline of select bird species , the Foundation makes an initial $2 million commitment to eradicate invasive species from important seabird breeding islands. After the success of these initial projects, the Foundation further expands this island restoration work and supports seabird bycatch reduction and protection of critical coastal habitat for shorebirds.


The Foundation seizes an opportunity to assist the State of California in expanding its After-school program

Joining with the California Department of Education and other philanthropies, the Foundation funds a comprehensive planning process leading to the development of a blueprint and implementation of the state-wide expansion of after-school programs in California.


Environmental groups, indigenous people, industry and government agree on a protected area network and ecosystem-based management across the 21 million-acre Great Bear Rainforest on the coast of British Columbia

As part of the Cascadia program, the Foundation provided 33 grants totaling $19,749,774 to help secure a landmark agreement to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, a globally-significant coastal temperate rainforest in British Columbia. The agreement included protected areas, ecosystem-based management, new land use decision-making processes that are more inclusive of indigenous interests, and a regional economic development fund.



Packard Foundation and World Bank examine links between population growth and development potential in Ethiopia; help catalyze nationwide action on reproductive health

Partnering with the World Bank, the Foundation commissions a study examining the impact of high population growth on Ethiopia’s development potential. Leaders in Africa’s second largest nation dramatically expand reproductive health training, supplies and access.


Foundation launches new states-to-national strategy to ensure all of America’s children have health insurance

Building on its early work in SCHIP implementation, the Foundation launches a new, multi-year investment aimed at ensuring all children in the U.S. have health insurance providing the care they need. By 2012, the national rate of children without insurance reaches an all-time low of 7 percent.


Foundation “likes” power of social media as strategy for social change

As the social media age fully launches, the Foundation invests in an exploration with other philanthropy groups to understand the opportunities and pitfalls, including adding noted nonprofit technology advocate Beth Kanter as a Visiting Scholar focused exclusively on social media.


Foundation bets big on plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avert catastrophic global climate change

The Packard Foundation makes an initial seven-year $500 million commitment to launch and support the ClimateWorks Foundation and network, designed to be the central hub of a global philanthropic network organized to help win the battle against climate change.


Montana Legacy Project buys 310,000 acres from Plum Creek Timber, right at the heart of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem, a larger area of wild habitat encompassing Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and surrounding lands

The Montana Legacy Project purchases more than 310,000 acres from Plum Creek Timber Company, preserving habitat for grizzly bears and Canada lynx. The Packard Foundation is an early investor in the project through grants and PRIs.


Foundation targets lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by protecting forests and promoting sustainable agriculture

The Foundation escalates its fight against climate change, helping launch the Climate and Land Use Alliance to improve land use management in the high-impact regions of the U.S., Mexico/Central America, Brazil and Indonesia.


An organization as a bulwark to help nonprofit organizations weather economic downturn

As organizations struggle in the face of a major economic downturn, the Packard Foundation together with the Applied Materials Foundation establishes the Nonprofit Effectiveness Fund through the United Way of Silicon Valley.


The Foundation leads the charge to develop high quality-summer enrichment programs in California for children who need them the most

Six hundred after-school programs extend their work into the summer for 50,000 children, and help to define what constitutes a high-quality summer enrichment program in California.


California adopts statewide program to close the early education access gap for four-year-olds

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) provides an additional year of a high-quality early childhood education with a certificated teacher for 120,000 four-year-olds across California, 34,000 of whom have never had access to preschool.


Marine Stewardship Council helps propel markets towards markets for more sustainable ocean fisheries

The Packard Foundation push for sustainable ocean fishing included the launch of the Marine Stewardship Council in 1998. It makes a difference. By 2010 eight percent of the world seafood market is certified to council standards.


Foundation headquarters becomes largest building ever to achieve Net-Zero energy in first full year of occupancy

By generating more electricity than it uses in its first year of occupancy, the Foundation headquarters becomes the largest building to achieve Net-Zero energy certification through the International Living Future Institute.