Opinion

Facts Wrong On Hewlett Story

Paul Brest, President
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Menlo Park, Calif.

From the assertion that the Hewlett Foundation’s assets are $9 billion to the claim that I thought that Michael Wald was too slow, the October “Nose Knows” story on the foundation’s decision not to pursue a youth program at this time is premised on factual inaccuracies.

The foundation’s endowment has never been larger than $7 billion, and it has been hovering in the mid-$4 billion range since the summer. At the time I recruited Michael Wald to develop a youth program, we had reason to believe that the endowment would grow to support a major program for disadvantaged youth.

Since joining the foundation in June 2001, Professor Wald has worked energetically to develop such a program, with the mutual understanding from the start that we would present a plan to the board this October.

Professor Wald’s work proceeded on track and on schedule. At our July board meeting, he outlined a comprehensive plan for addressing the needs of disconnected youth ages 16 to 24, and it was slated for the board’s final action in October.

With our endowment continuing to plummet, however, and facing a significant reduction in the grants budget for 2003, the board and I made the difficult decision – by far the most difficult one in my tenure as president – to put the program on indefinite hold.
Given the extent of existing programmatic commitments, this was just the wrong time to launch a major new program.

Since you and I have never had a conversation on the subject, I am hard- pressed to know where you got your misinformation. Whatever your editorial opinions may be, I believe that your audience is entitled to accurate information.

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