The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation was established in 1989 and received its principal assets from Dean Lesher's estate in 1993, 1995 and 1997. An additional endowment followed the death of Margaret Lesher in 1997.

Foundation grants are made to benefit the residents of Contra Costa County, California. These guidelines are designed to assist organizations seeking such grants.

Foundation Purpose

The Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life in Contra Costa County through educational and cultural endeavors and to support children and strengthen families.


The Foundation will make grants only to organizations that are exempt from federal tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not classified as private foundations under section 509(a) of the Code.

Geographical Limitations

Grants are limited to qualified nonprofit organizations located in, or directly serving residents of Contra Costa County, California.

Areas of Interest

The Foundation has an established interest in funding programs or projects in the areas of:

  • education
  • arts
  • children and families

Program Limitations

The Foundation does not generally provide support for:

  • grants to individuals, conferences, travel costs, or loans
  • environmental and open space issues
  • health care issues
  • general fund drives, fundraising events, annual appeals or endowments
  • debt retirement or deficits
  • organizations in support of activities to influence legislation
  • other foundations

The Foundation does not assume an obligation for permanent support of any activity. It will, however, consider grants for multiple years when the goals of a project require further support. The Foundation will not consider full proposals from any organization more frequently than once every twelve months.

Letters or calls of inquiry are strongly encouraged. Organizations seeking information should direct inquiries to Kathleen Odne, Executive Director, at the Foundation office, or call 925-935-9988. The Foundation no longer has deadlines for submitting proposals. Proposals are accepted throughout the year and are generally reviewed within 90 days of receipt by the Foundation. Grants for capital campaigns, building purchase, construction or renovation will be considered in March and September.

Applicants are encouraged to prepare their proposals with a specific project or program in mind. The Foundation will consider grant requests for multiple years in duration on a single application.

Complete the enclosed application form and use as proposal cover sheet. Include all requested items on the checklist provided. Proposal materials should not be bound. The review process will be delayed if packets are not complete.

The Foundation will not accept proposals sent by facsimile.

Review Process

The Foundation staff will review applications and letters of inquiry to determine whether the request is complete and conforms to the Foundation's basic policies, goals, objectives, and areas of focus. Depending on the size of the grant and other factors, staff may research your request through telephone inquiries, meetings, and/or site visits.

The Foundation Board of Directors will generally consider grant proposals within 90 days of receipt. Capital grant proposals are reviewed semi-annually. Once a final decision has been made, the applicant organization will be notified in writing.

Reporting Requirements

All recipients of grants must return a completed Grant Contract and submit a report detailing the results of the project or program for which funds were contributed, including an accounting of how Foundation grant funds were spent. The Grant Contract will specify the type of evaluation report required at the end of the grant period.

Conflict of Interest

Members of the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation are involved in many community activities as volunteers, donors, and members of boards of directors or advisory boards. The Foundation requires disclosure by the directors of the Foundation of their involvement in organizations that are applicants to the Foundation and abstention from voting on the application of an organization in which they are involved. The Foundation also requires disclosure by staff of any overlapping involvements with applicants to the Foundation.


Letters of inquiry and grant proposals should be addressed to:

Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation
1333 N. California Blvd., Suite 510
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Direct communication with individual directors or officers will not be of assistance to the applicant and is discouraged.

In addition to the Application information, the following items are required with your grant proposal.

  1. Concise description of your organization, including purpose and goals.

  2. Brief résumés of the Executive Director and key staff.

  3. Description of the project or program for which funds are being requested.

  4. The target population the project or program addresses.

  5. Plan of action including (as a separate attachment) the agency's budget and a project budget, the most current annual financial statement, current income and expense statement, and a copy of the annual audit, if available.

  6. Other funding sources for the project or program, including both committed and pending sources of support.

  7. The expected results including measurable objectives where applicable.

  8. A list of the Board of Directors including their primary organizational affiliations.

Download the complete guidelines and printable application by clicking here.

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