Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year Award

The Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year Award, named after Mr. Bernard Osher for his history-making commitment in 2008, recognizes significant contributions by individuals or organizations that benefit California Community Colleges and has helped to advance the mission of community colleges through philanthropy.

Nomination Criteria

The award is presented to an individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization who meets all of the following criteria at a high standard:

  • direct financial support to the California Community Colleges. The expectation is that the nominee will have contributed, in aggregate, at least $500,000 or more to the California Community Colleges,
  • displays a leadership role, volunteers, and/or provides other benefits to help to achieve the mission of the California Community Colleges, and
  • demonstrates commitment to philanthropy as a role model to encourage philanthropy in others in support of the California Community Colleges.

Due to a high number of outstanding applications, the 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.


past recipients


Mr. Bernard Osher himself, who made history in 2008 with the $25 million largest-ever gift to a community college system to establish a permanent statewide scholarship endowment benefiting all California Community Colleges.


Sutter Health Foundation for its support of Sacramento-area community colleges. 


Southern California Edison for its support of colleges and initiatives throughout the state. 


Dr. Norman Levan for bestowing the largest individual gift to a community college in the nation's history with his 2011 gift of $14 million to Bakersfield College.


Genentech for its support of colleges, programs, and scholarships. 


Ms. Elizabeth Noble for longstanding support of scholarships and business programs at El Camino College, including a $2 million gift to establish the first endowed chair.  


Mr. Henry Coil 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.


Mr. Arthur Rupe and the Rupe Foundation for providing over $3 million to support the growing need for well-trained, compassionate caregivers through health care training programs across 22 California Community Colleges. 


The Herb Alpert Foundation for its extraordinary support to Los Angeles City College (LACC). The Herb Alpert Foundation’s gift creates an endowment allowing music majors at LACC tuition-free attendance, private lessons and additional financial aid enabling them to succeed and enriching their community college experience.


Dr. Prem Reddy and his wife Dr. Venkamma Reddy, for their support of Victor Valley College 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 for their philanthropic support and programs that directly impact some of the Community Colleges’ most vulnerable student populations, including foster youth. Their presence reaches all 114 campuses, providing individualized assistance based on the barriers faced within each region.


Miriam Emily Schwab received a posthumous award for her long-time support of Ventura College. Miriam's $12 million estate gift to the Ventura College Music Department in 2018 helped establish the inaugural Miriam and Henry Schwab Academy of Music. Additionally, Miriam gifted a portion of her legacy to the Ventura College Aquatic Programs.


Henry Coil accepting the award in 2014.

Henry Coil accepted the award in 2014 in Palm Desert, California.