Mel, Rochelle and Leta Ramos

Our mission is to ensure that all youth have access to an arts education by supporting the transmission of the visual arts in all of its forms.

In support of our mission, we have created the Arts Education Initiative, funding programs throughout Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, along with selected special projects elsewhere. We rely on the generosity of like-minded donors and grant makers to carry out this work in some of our most hard-hit and under-funded communities recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 on creative economies.


Director’s Welcome

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation, established in 2017 as a means to carry on my parents’ work as artists and arts educators. Since my parents passed, my focus on their legacy has taken shape, and I have made it my commitment to continue their mission to ensure that all youth have access to an arts education. My mother, Leta Ramos, was an artist, model, and passionate arts educator. My father, Mel Ramos, was a professor, artist and Pop Art icon – from his early days as a student of Wayne Thiebaud, and the first historic “Pop Art” exhibit with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein in 1963 – to his international exhibitions of supermodels and superheroes.

The Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation is a non-profit family foundation focused on supporting arts education programs such as scholarships, teaching artist opportunities, visual arts curriculum, youth projects and exhibitions by and for youth. In order to carry out this work, we rely on generous donors and like-minded philanthropic organizations to support us in our re-granting efforts in support of our Arts Education Initiative.

In 2019, we began our grant-making activities, and since then have supported more than 20 youth arts programs – servicing hundreds of youth through classroom and community out-reach – secured 525 art kits for after-school arts-based curriculum, funded teaching artists and non-profit arts leadership development, youth advisories and arts education programs. In addition, the Foundation supported student emergency funds and institutional fundraisers during COVID-19 relief drives through art auction donations of art works and direct contributions.  If the global pandemic taught us nothing else, it is that we are all connected, and that the well-being of one can support the well-being of many. It is well documented that an arts education improves overall resiliency of children as social-emotional learners, as critical thinkers, and as engaged citizens in life.

Our goal in supporting youth – all youth – is to ensure them access and the right to the nourishment and necessity of the arts. Please join us in realizing this vision in whatever ways you can. We’re so happy you found us here, and we welcome your contributions and feedback.

With gratitude,

Founder and CEO

Legacy of Mel and Leta Ramos

Not only was Mel Ramos a prolific painter, he and his wife, Leta, were impassioned arts educators, each working in their own realms with youth, university students, and adult learners with disabilities. After her marriage to Mel in 1955, Leta became an elementary school teacher, teaching first- and second-grade children, developing an audio-visual center for Chabot Elementary School in Oakland, and teaching adults at the Richmond Art Center.  Also a painter, one of Leta’s main commitments was teaching art at the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland. The family moved to Oakland in 1968 when Mel accepted a teaching position at Cal State East Bay, now California State University, Hayward. His range and precision as an artist are outgrowths of his teaching career, through which he mentored more than two generations of art students.

Learn more about the Founders, Mel and Leta Ramos