David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation actively works to achieve its mission with work that aligns with the values of its founders David and Lucile Packard. David Packard’s success as co-founder and CEO of Hewlett-Packard allowed him to create a foundation with priorities such as conservation and science climate and ocean; children, families, communities; population; reproductive health; and local grantmaking. In 2017, the Foundation made 1,227 grants to various organizations and a total amount of assets over 7 billion dollars.

Biographical Highlights

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation provide grants to organizations that advance their mission and adequately steward the legacy of David and Lucile Packard. The foundation website discusses how organizations are selected to receive a gift. Currently, they invest in leaders with a strong track record in their area, and the foundation works with them to afford those opportunities to make decisions themselves as well as make a positive change in the area they specialize.

Historic Roots

Packard's childhood curiosity in electricity and science led him to the field of radio engineering. His expertise in radio engineering drew him to an interest in attending Stanford. David Packard went to Stanford University, where he met both his future business partner William Hewlett and as his future wife Lucile Selter. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree from Stanford. William and David founded Hewlett Packard in 1939 with $537 and, by 2012, had sales to the tune of $120 billion. Established by David and Lucile in 1964, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation began with a $100,000 endowment. In 1996, the Foundation was a significant beneficiary of David’s almost $4 billion estate. Before that, the Foundation was considered to be a small regional foundation, but with a gift of $4 billion, it became one of the most significant foundations in the country.

During his time with Hewlett-Packard, David helped bring the company from its garage beginnings to a Silicon Valley pioneer and a multinational enterprise. With the personal wealth he developed and the encouragement of his wife, Lucile, David decided it was time he gave back to the community (Hewlett-Packard 2002). He began to devote a good deal of time to philanthropy, funding many foundations, fellowships, and community projects.

During his career and until his death in March 1996, Packard was active in numerous professional, educational, civic, and business organizations. These included the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers; the National Academy of Engineers; the National Instrument Society of America; co-founder and chairman of the American Electronics Association and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation; chairman of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Research Institute; vice chairman of the California Nature Center; trustee of the Herbert Hoover Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, and Hoover Institute; and director of the Wolf Trap Foundation; Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Genetech, and Beckman Laser Institute business organizations (Ibid.).

In addition, David Packard performed civic duties by serving in a number of capacities. He was on President Reagan's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management. He worked with the US-USSR Trade and Economic Council. He chaired the U.S.-Japan Advisory Commission. Packard also sat on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (Ibid.).

Lucile Salter (1915-1987) started volunteering her time in the 1930s at the Stanford Convalescent Home (Gauvin 2002). After her marriage to David Packard in 1938, she became actively involved in the start of the Hewlett-Packard Company. She also became an active voting member of the board after the company's incorporation (Hewlett-Packard 2002).

As the company grew, and the Packards' wealth increased, Lucile felt a strong need to give back to the community in the area of health. Once again, she became involved in the Stanford Convalescent Home and soon served as a board member. She also was chairwoman of the board of the Children's Health Council (Gauvin 2002). Lucile provided a grant for the creation of The Children's Hospital. Through her help, Stanford University Hospital merged with the Children's Hospital and the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, as it is known today, was born (Ibid.). The Packards provided a gift of $40 million of the $100 million needed for the expanded Children's Hospital.

Yet, perhaps their greatest philanthropic contribution came in 1964 when the couple began the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Lucile Packard played a major role in creating the Foundation, and also in its operation, proposal evaluation, and grant making (David and Lucile Packard Foundation 2002). The organization's purpose is to help support universities, national institutions, community groups, youth agencies, family planning centers, and hospitals that are dependent on private funding and volunteer leadership (Ibid.).

David and Lucile Packard's efforts in philanthropy started with their need to give back to society due to their own wealth and personal growth. David believed that in business "management has a responsibility to its employees, to its customers, and to the community at large" (O'Hanlon 2000). This helps to explain his need to give. Lucile felt blessed by her family's success and wanted to give as much as possible; she had a special interest in children's causes (David and Lucile Packard Foundation 2002).


Current funding priorities are focused on the areas of climate change, the ocean, science, agriculture, our communities and our children, and organizational effectiveness. To begin the grant process with the Packard Foundation, you must review their priorities and then submit a request with a max of 500 words. In the late 1970s the Packard Foundation created the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where over the years, tens of millions have visited to learn more about sea life and conservation. To this day, the daughter of David and Lucile is the Executive Director. The Packard Foundation has done a tremendous amount to support Stanford University, several endowed chairs, and a building. Stanford claims that the impact that the Founders of Hewlett Packard and their foundations have had on the school rival the support of its founders. In 2017, the Foundation made 1,227 grants to various organizations and a total amount of assets over 7 billion dollars.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

At total assets over $7 billion, over 1,000 grants made annually, and $300 million in grants given, it is safe to say Packard Foundation is a leader in the Sector. As a leader in the Philanthropic Sector, The Packard Foundation recently joined forces with four other foundations to start helping their grantees pay more of their overhead. This will help nonprofits focus on the programmatic work at hand instead of having to direct energy to raise funds for rent. The result is six different ways a foundation can help grantees pay for overhead. Each option structured differently, Packard is not yet sure which of the six will be put into motion.

The foundation has a tremendous impact on the nonprofit sector, including:

  • In the area of climate change, the foundation has committed $930 million to slow climate change, to 193 organizations in 14 countries.
  • In helping communities and our children, the foundation has invested $708 million with 6,020 grants to support the health of children.
  • In the area of reproductive rights, the foundation has committed 1.03 billion dollars, with grants totaling 2,750.
  • The Packard investment in our ocean is 1.66 billion to 148 organizations, with 2,319 grants to the organizations to help our understanding and long life of the ocean.
  • To conserve our land, the foundation has contributed 400 million.
  • In the area of agriculture, 7.5 million has been donated to 50 organizations.
  • Finally, in the area of organizational effectiveness, 150 million has been given out in 2,827 grants.

Beyond their typical grant-making, the foundation has what is calls Mission Investing. Mission investments are for nonprofits who are tackling significant issues that need fast and sometimes high-risk loans to create real change in their cause. Since the program began, they have allocated 760 million dollars in funds and granted 290 mission investments to nonprofits. 13 An example of this program at work is the five million dollar investment the foundation made with the HTSV Tech Fund who will use the money to acquire and create opportunities for affordable housing in the bay area.

The impact annually that the Packard Foundation makes in the world is tremendous, something the founders, David and Lucile, would be very proud of today.


Key Related Ideas

  • Climate Change
  • Communities and Families
  • Reproductive Health
  • Land Conversation
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Agriculture
  • The Ocean

Important People Related to the Topic

  • William Hewlett
  • Steve Jobs
  • Bill Gates

Related Nonprofit Organizations


  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Related Websites

  • Packard Foundation Website https://www.packard.org/
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise https://www.hpe.com/us/en/home.html13https://www.packard.org/grants-and-investments/mission-investing/

Reflection Question

How do you begin to understand the amount of money it would take to fix a significant problem in society? What can we learn from the Packard Foundation’s diversity across many areas and grantees that will help us think about solving societal problems?



  • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, www.packard.org/.
  • Daniels, Alex. “Carol Larson, Packard CEO Who Took Vigorous Action on Climate Change, Plans to Leave.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 12 Feb. 2019, www.philanthropy.com/article/Carol-Larson-Packard-CEO-Who/245675.
  • David Packard. Default, www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/people/hall-of-fame/detail/david-packard.
  • Stanford Mourns Loss of David Packard. Stanford mourns loss of David Packard, March 26, 1996. https://news.stanford.edu/pr/96/960326packard.html.
  • Mento, Maria Di. “5 CEOs of Big Foundations Pledge to Do More to Help Charities Pay Overhead.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 4, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/5-CEOs-of-Big-Foundations/247063.
  • Packard, Julie. “Julie Packard: A 30th Anniversary Message.” Monterey Bay Aquarium, October 20, 2014. https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/100505700183/julie-packard-a-30th-anniversary-message-julie.


This paper was developed by a student taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.