The Olson Foundation would like to share an important message:

In lieu of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Olson Foundation Board members have determined that it is in the best interest of Omaha, Seattle and surrounding communities to prioritize funding requests focused on pandemic solutions at the local level.  During the application process, you will have the option to select Coronavirus (COVID-19) as the focus of your request.


The Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Charitable Foundation (The Olson Foundation) is a family foundation that seeks to transform the lives of people in Omaha, NE and Seattle, WA and their surrounding communities by funding transformational, high-impact projects.  Our mission is to develop relations with organizations that serve local needs in education, family, health and wellness, enrichment and environment.  Our annual goal is to award several grants in various dollar amounts.

The Olson Foundation’s funding cycle runs from January 1st to December 31st. The exact amount of funds available for awards in any given year will vary. The number of grants offered each year will vary.

Individual Olson Foundation Grant Committee members can not alter these guidelines.  Any questions about the grant guidelines must be submitted in writing to

The Olson Foundation has two grant programs, Small Grants and Large Grants.  The following guidelines apply to both grant programs.


The Olson Foundation accepts grant applications from any organization recognized as tax-exempt under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Organizations must be based in Omaha, NE and surrounding communities or Seattle WA and surrounding communities. The Seattle surrounding areas served are Snohomish, Skagit and King county in order of focused importance. Interested organizations outside these counties must contact The Olson Foundation and get board approval before being considered. Organizations that are a local chapter of a state or national charity serving residents of Omaha, NE and surrounding communities and Seattle WA and surrounding communities may apply.  An organization may only apply once a year and can only apply for a Small Grant or a Large Grant, i.e, an organization can not apply for both a Small Grant or Large Grant in the same year.  If an organization consists of several corporations, each individual corporation cannot apply for a grant.

Established or new programs meeting the grant criteria are equally considered for funding.

Key Requirements

  • Project must be implemented in and serve residents of Omaha, NE and surrounding communities or Seattle WA and surrounding communities.
  • Grant recipients agree to provide interim progress reports and a final report to a designee of The Olson Foundation.
  • Grant applicants select a Focus Area that describes their grant program/project.
  • The organization and the proposed program/project is in line with The Olson Foundation’s Focus Areas listed in the next section. We have also included a list of things that The Olson Foundation does not fund for your reference.

Focus Areas

Non-profit organizations submit their applications under a specific focus area.

  • Education: Projects and initiatives essential to improving the educational process or improving access to education for children and/or adults.
  • Family: Projects and initiatives that strengthen and enhance the lives of children and families.
  • Health: Projects and initiatives that are essential to strengthening and enhancing segments of the community with significant economic, educational, social, and physical needs.
  • Environment: Programs and initiatives essential to protecting, promoting, and educating our community about the environment and its preservation.  By conserving and celebrating the many facets of life, these programs promote positive change that encompasses and embraces all realms of life.

The Olson Foundation reserves the right to change the focus area designation of any application during the review process.

The Olson Foundation does not fund the following:

  • Describing the use of funds as “general operating expenses” instead of providing specifics about the use of funds.
  • General administration costs or overhead except for up to 15% of the proposed program/project
  • Debt reduction or operational deficits
  • Grants to specific individuals
  • Endowment or memorial funding
  • Interim or bridge funding
  • Partisan, legislative, or political activities
  • Fraternal, sectarian, and religious organizations where the grant is intended for the principal benefit of the organization’s own members or adherents, or where the grant is intended for inherently religious activities
  • Private foundations
  • Legal expenses incurred in any action by or against the organization
  • General construction or renovation (unrelated to a specific proposed project)
  • Projects that discriminate against race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.
  • Fund drives or annual appeals
  • General capital campaigns
  • Advertising (unrelated to a specific proposed project)
  • Pass Thru Organizations – organizations that raise funds and then distribute the funds to other non-profit organizations.

The Olson Foundation’s guidelines are continuing to evolve. The Olson Foundation reserves the right to change grant award criteria without prior notice at any time.  The above guidelines apply to both the Small and Large Grant programs.  Please see the Small Grant Application or the Large Grant Application for further information on applying for a grant.