Foundation History

portrait of Dean & Margaret Lesher

The Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation has a clear and simple mission—to enhance the quality of life for all residents of Contra Costa County, California. First established in 1989 by the late Dean Lesher and his wife Margaret, the Lesher Foundation has strong roots in Northern California. Dean Lesher was the founder and publisher of Lesher Communications in Walnut Creek, and subsequently built a chain of local newspapers throughout California. He wanted to give back to the local communities he loved so dearly by funding nonprofits in Contra Costa County. Today, the Foundation continues to uphold this value, giving more than $100 million in grants to date.

The Lesher Foundation is now principally managed by Dean and Margaret’s children and grandchildren.  In honor of the philanthropic legacy established by the original donors, the Foundation is deeply committed to funding programs benefitting children and families, particularly those in underserved and low-income areas. Education grants are also a strong focus of giving, targeted toward children and young adults from vulnerable families. Additionally, funding for both the visual and performing arts is a key focus area, as the family believes that a vibrant community includes access to the arts for all its members.

The Foundation advances its mission by believing in the safety, security, and potential of every child, significantly investing in educational opportunities for those underserved, and offering the community the enrichments of the arts. We invite you to read more about our goals and strategies, and welcome your interest in the Foundation.