Just like William Hewlett and David Packard’s humble beginnings in a Palo Alto garage, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation began with two people at a kitchen table.
For years, beginning in 1964, foundation activities were kept simple. The Hewlett-Packard Co. co-founder and his philanthropic wife, longtime Los Altos Hills residents, met at the end of each year and decided where to donate money. Lucile was interested in children’s health, and David enjoyed science.
Nearly 50 years later, the primary focus on these interests remains unchanged at the Los Altos-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The major differences are funding amounts and breadth of impact. The Packards’ first-year foundation contributions totaled $17,000. In 2013, the foundation disbursed more than $253 million. The foundation’s current assets stand at $6.4 billion.
Years after their deaths – Lucile died in 1987, David in 1996 – the Packards’ interests are being championed in far more impactful ways than they could have envisioned 50 years ago. The investment in children’s and reproductive health related to stabilizing international population growth stems from Lucile’s wishes. Scientific research – David’s passion – is reflected in foundation work to protect the oceans and reduce the planet’s carbon emissions.
With the Packard Foundation poised to mark its 50th anniversary, the Town Crier has named the foundation its 2013 Los Altan of the Year. It is the first time the paper has bestowed the honor on an organization rather than an individual or couple. Modeled after Time magazine’s Person of the Year, the annual designation salutes a recipient whose positive impact and goodwill-building endeavors enhance the reputation of Los Altos as a community.
The foundation has addressed its causes by funding like-minded nonprofit agencies that work directly on the issues. The support not only involves grants for the organizations’ work, but it also entails providing funds to train staff so that they can become more effective at what they do.
Overseen by president and CEO Carol Larson, her staff and a board of trustees that includes Packard family members, the foundation’s work is subtle yet effective in changing the world for the better. Covering all corners of the globe while keeping in mind the needs of the local community, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation deploys its considerable resources to achieve maximum positive impact while continuing to honor the Packards’ philanthropic interests.