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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Foundationís areas of focus for support?

The Foundationís interest areas and priorities are:

  1. Scholarships for Higher Education (Osher Scholars and Fellows Program)
  2. Scholarships for University Reentry Students aged 25 to 50 (Osher Reentry Scholarship Program)
  3. Programs addressing the educational needs of seasoned adults at institutions of higher education (Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes)
  4. Selected integrative medicine programs
  5. Arts and educational programs in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and the State of Maine

In the first four areas, there is not an open application process at this time. When the Foundation looks to increasing the number of grantees in these areas, it invites selected institutions of higher education to submit applications through a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

Nonetheless, colleges and universities interested in the four areas of support in the field of higher education may submit letters of inquiry to the Foundation along with a concise description of their plans and activities relevant to the given program area.

The fifth area Ė arts and educational programs in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and the State of Maine Ė does accept unsolicited proposals. The following guidance is provided to prospective grant seekers.

What are the Foundationís eligibility requirements?

The Foundation accepts inquiries and applications only from 501C(3) organizations. It does not make grants to individuals.

What is the geographic focus of the Foundationís grantmaking for arts programs?

The Foundation focuses on the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and the State of Maine.

What are the best ways to assess the Foundationís interest in a proposal?

The first step is a letter or email providing a brief overview of the proposed project. In some instances, the initial letter provides the Foundation with sufficient information on which to make a decision, especially for smaller grants. On other occasions, the letter of inquiry may lead to a request for a full proposal or to a determination that the proposed project does not coincide with Foundation priorities.

What is required in a full proposal?

A full proposal to the Foundation should include the following:

  1. a description of the project, the community need to which it responds, anticipated goals or outcomes, and proposed evaluation;
  2. the projectís budget and proposed timeline;
  3. the organizationís operating budget, including a list of corporate and foundation donors and the amount of their contributions, and its most recent financial statement;
  4. background of the organization, a brief profile of its staff, and a list of trustees; and
  5. an IRS tax-exemption letter.

Additional background information such as publications, press notices, CDs or letters of recommendation may be included.

What are the deadlines for submitting a proposal and how long does it take to receive a decision from the Foundation?

The Foundation accepts applications throughout the year. Letters of inquiry and proposals will be acknowledged and reviewed usually within 30-60 days, with Board action taken quarterly. Depending upon the Board meeting schedule and what additional information may be requested, the Foundation normally communicates its decision on individual proposals within a 90-day period.

How does one obtain more information about the Foundation?

Please contact:

Ms. Jeanie Hirokane, Corporate Secretary
The Bernard Osher Foundation
One Ferry Building, Suite 255
San Francisco, CA 94111
Tel. (415) 861-5587
Fax (415) 677-5972