The A. G. Leventis Foundation was established in May 1979 as a result of provisions made by Anastasios G. Leventis, who died in October 1978. Anastasios Leventis was born in Cyprus in 1902. He established one of the largest companies in West Africa and from 1966 served as Cyprus' honorary Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. From the beginning, the aim of the Foundation was to support educational, cultural, artistic and philanthropic causes in Cyprus, Greece and elsewhere. The range and direction of its activities were based on the philanthropic interests of the founder. In Cyprus, Greece and other parts of Europe, there has been a focus on culture and education with a special emphasis on the cultural heritage of Cyprus. This is particularly significant because of the immense destruction of the cultural heritage of the island caused by the Turkish Invasion of 1974 and its aftermath. In 1980, an independent Cypriot branch of the Foundation was established. In Greece, the Foundation has supported a wide range of cultural organisations and events, but the main emphasis has been on the restoration of a number of monuments from various periods. The collection of Greek paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries acquired by Anastasios Leventis has also been studied and expanded.
Elsewhere in Europe, and further afield, the Foundation has prioritised the study of the culture and history of Cyprus and Greece, and a focus on the communities of the Greek diaspora, particularly in Britain. Cultural, linguistic and religious concerns of the communities have received the most attention. The most important initiative in this category has been The Hellenic Centre, in the heart of London, to which the Foundation has been the largest donor. An international programme of support for Greek studies, covering all historical periods, has developed over the years in parallel with efforts to study and enhance the presentation of Cypriot antiquities in foreign museums.
In West Africa, an area long connected with the Leventis family, the A. G. Leventis Foundation Nigeria was set up in 1988 to continue an already existing philanthropic programme. It has established seven agricultural schools for young farmers in Nigeria and Ghana.
The Foundation's Publications Programme is largely related to the cultural heritage, archaeology and history of Cyprus. It publishes under its own imprint and also makes supporting grants to other publishers and academic institutions.
The Scholarship Programme that had been initiated by A. G. Leventis himself has been gradually systematised and greatly expanded, almost exclusively at university level, and since 1992 only at post-graduate level. There is also a programme of research grants, essentially at post-doctoral level, covering subjects within the range of the Foundation's interests. In addition to these areas, a number of fields have received consistent support from the Foundation over a number of years. The environment is the principal of these, with programmes in Cyprus, West Africa and elsewhere targeted at the most pressing problems. Medical research and disease control and alleviation have also been important subsidiary activities.
Grants have been made for various charitable causes in Cyprus.