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


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.


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


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

  • education

  • visual and performing arts

  • children and families


  • With some exceptions, grant awards will emphasize current or past grantees.

  • Grant awards will generally comprise no more than 25% of any nonprofit’s total budget.

  • The foundation will consider capital grant applications from current or past grantees only. All capital grant proposals must begin with a letter of inquiry.

The Foundation does not generally provide support for:

  • grants to individuals, conferences, travel costs, or loans

  • environmental and open space issues

  • grants for start-up organizations

  • 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. All new grant applications must be preceded by a Letter of Inquiry.


The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation is now accepting all letters of inquiry, grant proposals and grant reports via our E-Grant System.

The E-Grant System is comprised of 4 main sections:

  • User Registration

  • Letter of Inquiry

  • Grant Application

  • Grant Reports

The applicant is the person responsible for completing a grant proposal for the organization. The grant proposal process includes submitting a Letter of Inquiry (for new grantseekers only) and completing an Application Form, including required attachments requested in the form.


User Registration

The first step is to create a new account for the nonprofit organization seeking a grant, including the primary contact and the chief executive officer of the organization.


Letter of Inquiry

If an applicant has never had a funding relationship with the Lesher Foundation, the applicant needs to complete a Letter of Inquiry (LOI). The LOI is a form accessed through the E-Grant System introducing the applicant to our Foundation. We request a brief description of how grants funds would be used, and the intended amount of the grant request. The Foundation promptly reviews all LOI’s submitted. The Foundation uses a competitive grant process in a single grant cycle. Invitations to proceed to the Application Stage are extended to organizations via email.


Helpful Hints

Answer the questions on the form paying close attention to the instructions and limitation for each question. It is recommended to prepare longer responses in MS Word, and then cut and paste the information onto the form. Some questions have a character limit that allows only a specific amount of text.

Required fields are denoted with an (*). If a required field is left blank on the LOI Form, the E-Grant System will not process the request. A dialog box will appear on the screen and list the field(s) that require a response. Fields with missing information will be denoted with “field is required” in red lettering. The system will not allow the LOI to be submitted if a required field is left blank.

When submitting an LOI an applicant can select Submit Form (when the LOI is complete), or Save as Draft, giving the applicant the ability to return and complete the form at a later time. After the LOI is submitted, the applicant will see a Confirmation Page indicating the form has been submitted. Once the LOI has been submitted, the responses entered into the form fields can no longer be edited. Be sure to make all necessary edits prior to final submission of the LOI.

Accessing Forms After LOI has been Saved and Submitted

The Application Status Page is where the applicant can check on the status of all forms, and access prior applications for historical record keeping. Once the LOI has been submitted it can only be viewed and printed; it can no longer be edited. If the LOI has been saved but not submitted, it can be edited from the Application Status Page. Once the Foundation makes a decision to approve or deny an LOI, an email notification will be sent to the primary contact’s email address and the decision will appear on the Application Status Page next to LOI. If the LOI is approved, the applicant will be given access to the Application Form. If the LOI is denied, the grant proposal process will end for this cycle. The applicant is required to wait 12 months before submitting a new LOI.



If an applicant has a current or prior relationship with the Foundation, or a Letter of Inquiry has been approved (for new applicants), the Application is the next step that must be completed in the grant proposal process.

Answer the questions on the form paying close attention to the instructions and limitations on each question. Similar to the LOI, some questions have limitations in terms of character count or file size. The limits have been set conservatively to allow plenty of space to provide responses; however, the system will not permit you to exceed any of the limits.

Required fields are denoted with an (*). If a required field is left blank on the Application Form the E-Grant System will not process the request. A dialog box will appear on the screen and list the field(s) that require a response. Fields with missing information will be denoted with “Field is required” in red lettering. The system will not allow the Application to be submitted in a required field is left blank.

When submitting an application, the applicant can select Submit Form, or Save As Draft and return to complete the form later. The applicant may also view the LOI form (if submitted) while completing the application; however, the LOI cannot be edited at this stage of the grant process. After the application is submitted there will be a Confirmation Page indicating that the form as been submitted. The applicant can always refer to the Application Status Page to check which stage the application is in. Once the Application has been submitted the responses entered into the form fields can no longer be edited. Be sure to make all necessary edits prior to submitting the application.

The Foundation is automatically notified when an application is submitted. After a preliminary review, an email confirmation will be sent to the primary contact to confirm receipt of the application.


Supplemental Information

Charitable organizations submitting a proposal will be required to provide supplemental information pertaining to finances, management, and board governance. The following is a list of documents that may be requested with the Application Form:

  1. Organizational Financial Budget

  2. Balance Sheet or Statement of Financial Position

  3. Income Statement or Statement of Activity

  4. Program or Project Budget

  5. Financial Audit Report, if applicable to your organization

  6. Brief biography of the executive director and key staff

  7. Board Roster, including organizational affiliations


Selecting the Grant Request Type

After selecting the Apply link the applicant must select the type of grant the organization intends to apply for on the Application Page. The Foundation makes the following type of grants:

  • Program Support

  • Project Specific (including capital support)

  • General Operating Support


Grant Request Types

The Foundation defines grant request types as follows:

  • Program Support – restricted funding that would be used to support a new or existing program or service. The program will generally be offered from year to year, and lead by experienced staff that is trained and qualified to lead the program. Preference is given to proposals that provide a program or service directly to intended recipients.

  • Project Specific – restricted funding to help purchase, acquire, or develop a specific project. The Foundation may also consider requests to support a capital campaign under this request type. Applicants should establish the project start and end dates prior to submitting a request, and ensure these dates will fall after the date the Foundation will announce its grant decision for the grant cycle.

  • General Operating Support – Funding is unrestricted as to use. The Foundation will seek to understand the applicant organization in terms of purpose, strength and demonstrated ability to successfully deliver programs and community impact.


Fax to File

Organizations that do not have access to scanning equipment can convert a hard copy document by faxing it to our host server. A .pdf document will be created that will be downloaded to your computer. Using a Fax to File also helps shrink documents to a smaller file size.


The entire grant cycle typically runs from 2-3 months. Foundation staff may contact the organization during the review period to arrange for phone interviews, site visits, or to request additional information.

Grant decisions are announced following every board meeting. Organizations will be notified by mail and email, and the status on the Application Status Page will be updated to reflect if the grant has been approved or denied. Successful applicants will receive confirmation of the grant and a grant contract by mail. A successful applicant can generally expect to receive a grant check shortly after a signed copy of the grant contract and a copy of board minutes confirming the terms of the grant contract are returned to the foundation.


If there are any questions regarding the letter of inquiry, grant applications, capital grant process or grant reports please contact Curtis Yancy, Grants Associate at  or 925-935-9988. In addition we are providing a link to an Application Video Tutorial which we hope you find helpful.