Foundation History

The Dresher Foundation was established in 1989 as a private family foundation by Jim and Virginia Dresher. They believed they had an obligation to improve life for their fellow man, and found that by giving locally, they could see firsthand the impact their gifts made. They also saw the foundation as a meaningful endeavor to bond their family together for generations to come. With those factors in mind, the Board of Trustees was formed to include Jim and Virginia, their children, and their spouses.  Virginia was installed as the first President of the Board and her daughters and daughters-in-law served as the officers.

Initially, the foundation did not seek or accept applications.  The grant screening committee, comprised of the officers of the foundation, identified local nonprofit organizations and made their recommendations to the full Board for approval.  Each Board member had one vote, and the majority ruled; a practice that continues to this day.

Some of the earliest, most substantial grants went to organizations close to Jim and Virginia.  These included UMBC, the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

As the Dresher Foundation’s assets have grown over time, so has its infrastructure.  An executive director was hired in 2001, and in 2002 Jim and Virginia’s grandchildren were welcomed onto the board.  Today, the foundation is governed by a thirteen-member Board of Trustees, including both second and third-generation family members. Soon, the fourth generation – Jim and Virginia’s great-grandchildren – will also join the board.

The Dresher Foundation continues to focus on providing hope in community life. We support nonprofit organizations located in or primarily serving residents of Harford County, Maryland. Priority funding initiatives focus on programs that address vital health, education, and human service needs, along with civic and cultural opportunities.  Our philosophy of funding is rooted in deep respect and admiration of our nonprofit partners who are providing vital services to those in need.  While we support a variety of programs and capital projects, we believe that unrestricted funding is essential for an organization’s health and growth.   By empowering nonprofits with the support they need to best serve their clients, the Foundation continues to honor the legacy of its founders Jim and Virginia Dresher.