The Bernard Osher Foundation: Grants for the Bay Area and Maine

OVERVIEW: The Bernard Osher Foundation provides scholarships and grants for integrative medicine, continuing education for people over 50, and local arts and education groups.

FUNDING AREAS: Scholarships, higher education, education for adults 50+, integrative medicine, local arts, local education

IP TAKE: The best opportunities with Osher for Bay Area groups is in arts and education.

PROFILE: Established in 1977, the Bernard Osher Foundation (BOF) is based in San Francisco. Osher was a local businessman and community leader who became a founding director of World Savings, which was the second largest savings institution in the U.S. when it was purchased by Wachovia in 2006. Osher was a native of Maine, so much of the foundation’s grantmaking is focused on Northern California and Maine. The foundation supports post-secondary scholarships, lifelong learning institutes for seasoned adults, select integrative medicine programs, and arts and educational organizations.

One interesting aspect of BOF’s funding is its Lifelong Learning Institutes, which exist on the campuses of at least 122 higher education institutions in the U.S. This effort began in 2000 to benefit older adults, many of whom have retired but still find joy in learning. One of the first examples of a successful program was at the Institute of Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco; following soon after were Sonoma State University, the California State University, and the University of California systems. For younger students, BOF supports scholarship programs at over 250 colleges and universities. Most of these are located in California and Maine.

There are also five integrative medicine programs that receive BOF support, including one at the University of California, San Francisco. BOF uses the terms integrative medicine and complementary medicine somewhat interchangeably, and these grants go toward research, education, and clinical care. BOF supports non-traditional fields, such as acupuncture, acupressure, herbal remedies, yoga, massage, guided imagery, and mindfulness-based meditation.

Review the foundation’s recent tax records to learn more about local giving. BOF prioritizes the San Francisco Bay Area and the state of Maine when it comes to funding local arts and education programs. The foundation emphasizes assisting arts and educational organizations in Maine, San Francisco, and in Alameda County.

New grantseekers can submit unsolicited letters of inquiry of less than two pages by mail or email. Returning grantees can submit a report describing how the previous BOF funds were used and a proposal for a new grant. Direct letters of inquiry and general questions to the foundation’s corporate secretary and program director, Jeanie Hirokane, at 415-861-5587 or


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