The Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year Award recognizes distinguished philanthropic contributions to the California Community Colleges and the power of philanthropy to change lives. The recipient is selected by the Network of California Community College Foundations–the statewide professional association dedicated to advancing philanthropy and its critical role in strengthening California’s community colleges, improving student success, and preparing an educated workforce. The award is presented to an individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization which demonstrates a commitment to philanthropy and serves as a role model to encourage philanthropy for California Community Colleges. Named after Bernard Osher for his history-making commitment to community college students, the award was established over a decade ago and is awarded annually to recognize extraordinary philanthropic contributions to the California Community Colleges.
Philanthropic investment at community colleges may be among the best strategies we have for increasing social and economic mobility, addressing long-standing inequalities in our communities, and ensuring that all members of our community have access to a life-changing higher education.
The award is presented to an individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization who meets all of the following criteria at a high standard:
Due to a high number of outstanding applications, the selection committee has the ability to select award recipients in two categories: individuals and organizations (a foundation, corporation, or non-profit entity). An eligible party who was nominated in a previous year, but did not win, may be re-nominated.
Bernard Osher received the inaugural Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year Award after making history in 2008 with the largest-ever gift to a community college system, $25 million to establish a permanent statewide scholarship endowment.
Sutter Health Foundation was awarded for its support of Sacramento-area community colleges.
Southern California Edison was awarded for its support of colleges and initiatives throughout the state.
Dr. Norman Levan was awarded for bestowing $14 million to Bakersfield College, the largest-ever individual gift to a community college.
Genentech was awarded for its broad support of the California Community Colleges.
Elizabeth Noble was awarded for longstanding support of scholarships and business programs at El Camino College, including a $2 million gift to establish the first endowed chair.
Henry Coil was awarded for over twenty years of volunteer leadership at Riverside Community College District Foundation and a $5 million lead gift to establish the Henry W. and Alice Edna Coil School for the Arts.
Arthur Rupe was awarded for supporting home health aid programs at 22 California Community Colleges, cumulatively providing over $3 million to support the growing need for compassionate caregivers.
The Herb Alpert Foundation was awarded for its extraordinary support to Los Angeles City College (LACC), creating an endowment allowing music majors at LACC tuition-free attendance, private lessons, and additional financial aid.
Dr. Prem Reddy and Dr. Venkamma Reddy were awarded for their support of Victor Valley College (VVC) and other Southern California Community Colleges, including a recent gift of $2.4 million for the 'Sixteen for Success' program, which supports 64 students in the VVC Nursing program.
The Walter S. Johnson Foundation was awarded for their philanthropic support and programs that directly impact some of the California Community Colleges’ most vulnerable student populations, including foster youth.
Miriam Emily Schwab was posthumously awarded in recognition of her $12 million estate gift and as a long-time supporter of Ventura College.