Hewlett Foundation Awards $500K to EPACENTER

Featured News | Posted on September 20, 2021


SAN FRANCISCO, CA (20 September 2021) — The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has selected EPACENTER in East Palo Alto as one of the recipients of its new “adaptation grants,” supporting arts organizations transitioning to new practices needed both during and after the pandemic. This generous $500,000 grant will allow EPACENTER to navigate not only short-term challenges during COVID-19, but also provide a means for planning, testing, and implementing organizational, programmatic, and financial strategies. Grantees are invited to utilize this flexible capital to redefine key partnerships, eliminate barriers, and set a foundation of resilience for their organization’s mission and the people it serves. Said EPACENTER Executive Director Nadine Rambeau, “We are thrilled to be a recipient of Hewlett’s new adaptation grant; our mission goes hand-in-hand with the Foundation’s updated strategy to support the arts among youth in underserved communities. With this grant, we will be able to further expand upon our offerings for youth to include art classes, job training in creative fields, community art projects, and expressive arts therapy. This new programming will have an even greater impact on the youth and families that we serve in our community.”

EPACENTER’s commitment to making a difference in East Palo Alto aligns with the Hewlett Foundation’s new grantmaking strategy, which also commits to serving parts of the Bay Area where public and philanthropic investment has been less forthcoming, places that have absorbed new populations due to displacement, and communities whose cultural lives continue to be constrained by societal inequities and injustices. The newly completed EPACENTER building will be a powerhouse in the traditionally underserved East Palo Alto area, supporting community youth with its free, quality art, design and technology programming taught through a culturally responsive lens. Adds Rambeau, “Art and creativity have a critical role to play in historically underserved communities, as they allow people to connect, grieve and heal, provide a means for economic opportunity, and build skills that youth will use for the rest of their lives.”

The Hewlett Foundation implemented its refreshed grantmaking strategies in early 2020, expanding upon its decades-long legacy of support for art in Bay Area communities. This new strategic framework was guided by a set of values, including an affirmation of art as a powerful vehicle for community self-determination, and a commitment to centering equity and justice in its grantmaking. These values guided the foundation to the decision to focus its resources on the interests of communities, artists, and youth, ensuring that funds would reach those whom the foundation, and other public and private funding, had not served well or equitably in the past. A one-time $17 million allocation from the Hewlett Foundation board supported the development of its new “adaptation grants,” which were allocated to 34 organizations across the Bay Area.

Bay Area artists and arts organizations today face significant challenges, from longstanding issues like skyrocketing real estate costs and persistent inequalities in who has access to art and artmaking, to more immediate crises brought on or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A study conducted by Northern California Grantmakers found that 48% of Bay Area nonprofits surveyed have reduced or stopped their programs or services due to the impact of COVID-19 on the arts sector. “The pandemic is just the latest crisis to rock arts organizations in the Bay area, already one of the most challenging places to be an artist. To thrive, and not just survive, arts groups need room to experiment and adapt to changing economic, technological, and cultural conditions,” said Emiko Ono, director of Hewlett’s Performing Arts program. “These grants provide runway for that innovation and have the potential to carve a new path forward for the arts sector so that the Bay Area can benefit from a vibrant and equitable cultural landscape.”

The 34 grant recipients are drawn from across the Bay Area, and represent an array of sizes, missions, and artistic fields. Ranging from $300,000 to $975,000, most of the one-time adaptation grants are equivalent to several years of traditional funding. All 34 organizations have concluded an initial planning period with ideas for how they will navigate the pressing economic and social challenges of the coming years.