Community owes thanks to Hewlett


Long before he became a mogul in the technology field, William Hewlett was simply a young man who loved spending time in the Sierra.

For generations, the Hewlett family enjoyed the outdoors and, in particular, developed an affinity for the Sierra Nevada.

In an effort to give something back to the region, the Hewlett family recently announced plans to donate $1 million to create the Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation. The donation is wonderful news for the Tahoe-Truckee region. A community foundation will provide an important and responsive source of funding for a variety of local needs. Another plus is that the Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation has been established with broad boundaries, including Truckee, Donner Summit, Squaw Valley, and Tahoe’s North and West shores.

The recent announcement was buoyed this week when the fledgling foundation learned Hewlett has subsequently issued a $1 million challenge -if the group can raise another million dollars during the next four years, the Hewlett family will match that amount to create a $3 million endowment. That’s certainly heady news for an organization that didn’t exist just a few short weeks ago.

Increasingly, our communities are seeing the importance of approaching problems with regional solutions in mind. It’s nice to see this philosophy in the establishment of the foundation.

The Hewlett donation also comes with no strings attached. Funding can go toward whatever the community feels is important. The foundation hopes to attract more donors with the promise of that flexibility. At this week’s foundation kick-off dinner, representatives of several Bay Area foundations offered background on such groups, including some words of advice.

Many of those in attendance at the kick-off represented area non-profit groups, which each could readily make use a portion of the initial million-dollar grant. However, the foundation representatives cautioned that the community may want to have patience with its new philanthropic partner and give the foundation some growing room during its first few years.

Although the million dollars represents a tidy nest egg, allowing the foundation to focus on nurturing that investment – rather than donating most of it back to the community too quickly – sounded like some sound advice. Once the principal gets to a sufficient size through additional fund-raising and donations, the foundation will be become self-sustaining. In the long run, the community will benefit even more, and we hope perpetually, from Hewlett’s original generosity.

Our community owes a debt of thanks to the Hewlett family for launching the Tahoe-Truckee foundation, and special recognition should also go to attorney Jim Porter, the community liaison who helped secure the donation and is shepherding the foundation through its initial organizational process.

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