Eight local nonprofits are celebrating this week, as the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara doled out grants totaling $525,000 at its 9th Annual Presentation of Funds Luncheon. This luncheon celebrates the end of the annual Women’s Fund grant cycle, and recognizes and honors its newest grantees, voted on by the membership of nearly 600 women. The grants announced at Monday’s luncheon bring the total amount awarded by the group to more than $4 million since it began in 2004.
The nonprofits receiving 2012-2013 Women’s Fund awards:
Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara – $50,000 for emergency supplemental food and case management to aid low-income families in crisis. This grant funds the purchase of food for distribution in the Santa Barbara and Carpinteria food pantries and the mobile food pantry in Isla Vista. More clients and more visits to its food pantries have resulted in a 24% year-to-year increase in food demand. Case management assures that all clients qualify based on need and tracks program outcomes and addresses other emergency needs like rent and utility assistance and/or counseling. Over 94% of clients qualify as low-income (under $21,200 annually for a family of four) and they are predominantly families with children under the age of 18 (66%).
Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine – $50,000 for the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic to provide medical care and essential services to unsheltered and marginally sheltered women in a safe, female-only environment. This grant provides complete funding for the Women’s Free Homeless Clinic to operate for two years. Founded in 2008, the Clinic is held three Fridays per month at Transition House. While the focus is on providing primary medical care and counseling, the Clinic also offers various classes, referrals to community resources, a nutritious lunch, showers, laundry facilities, clothing and medical and hygiene supplies. The harshness of a homeless existence greatly magnifies the need for healthcare services since many of these women live in places not meant for human habitation – freeway underpasses, parks, abandoned buildings, cars, and streets.
Future Leaders of America – $65,000 for training and academic support to promote responsible leadership development for community youth. This grant funds program support, including partial salary and benefits for a program director, costs of a summer leadership camp for 100 incoming high school freshmen, and university seminars and workshops for a total of 280 students. The organization focuses on harnessing the potential of students for future professional, organizational and civic leadership. FLA began working with low-income students in SB County in 2004, using a proven, cost effective and highly structured peer-to-peer leadership model that supports students’ academic achievement, fosters college attendance and teaches communication and networking skills.
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria – $50,000 for the Eureka! Program, which prepares young girls to attend college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This grant funds a year of training for one first- and one second-year cohort (50 girls) participating in the year-round, coordinated five-year Eureka! Program. A UCSB summer program is designed to expose young women from disadvantaged backgrounds and least likely to attend college to the university experience and to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). During the academic year, girls will attend monthly follow-up workshops, visit regional universities, participate in a college prep curriculum and experience internship opportunities. Eureka! is a national Girls Inc. program that has realized a 90% success rate.
Isla Vista Youth Projects – $50,000 for capital funds to improve the Isla Vista Family Resource Center infrastructure and playground. This grant will improve the interior and exterior facilities of the Isla Vista Family Resource Center, which fills a vital role in the local community. It is home to a state-funded preschool, which offers quality early education opportunities to low-income children. The center is also used by many local agencies such CALM, New Beginnings and Isla Vista Elementary School as a site to provide their programming to local residents. Interior repairs will be done and outside the playground will be doubled in size. The driveway, parking lot, and adjacent walkways will be resurfaced to provide greater safety for clients.
Westside Boys and Girls Club – $75,000 for renovation and expansion of its clubhouse to create an educational resource center. This grant will renovate and expand facilities of the clubhouse to create an educational resource center. Located adjacent to Bohnett Park, the Club offers programs to an impoverished, underserved segment of the community. It is one of the only places in the area that provides structured programs in a safe, supervised environment during the parent workday. The expanded facilities will allow children to be separated into more effective age groupings and will provide more programming for a larger number of children. Collaborating charities such as Notes4Notes, New Beginnings and Domestic Violence Solutions also offer programs at the clubhouse.
Women’s Economic Ventures – $100,000 for a micro-loan fund to assist low-income south Santa Barbara County women in starting or expanding their own businesses. This grant will be used to establish a micro-loan fund to help low-income women start or expand their own businesses. The fund will be structured as a rolling trust so as borrowers repay, the money will be re-loaned allowing the fund to continue in perpetuity. By empowering women to help themselves, the program focuses on a root problem of poverty – economic inequality. Micro-loans have funded more than 230 local businesses including restaurants, specialty food stores, hair and nail salons, florists and a veterinarian. The program will help more women in the community make the transition from low-paying jobs or welfare into their own businesses.
Youth Violence Prevention Program – $85,000 for a female outreach worker to reduce gang-related conflict and violence among at-risk girls in Santa Barbara secondary schools. This grant will fund a female outreach worker to work with 100 at-risk females in local high schools to reduce the level of gang-related conflict and violence. As young girls require different approaches for issues specific to them, the outreach worker will focus on reducing suspensions and increasing success in school by providing the ongoing nurturing support these girls need during their crucial secondary school years. Females age 12-19 are the fastest growing segment in the youth corrections system, and locally, the number of girls entering the probation system has more than doubled over the past eight years.
“The Women’s Fund is a unique model of collective giving centered on the ideas of simplicity and minimum overhead so we can deliver maximum dollars into the community,” says Stina Hans, Women’s Fund Chair. “At the core of our success is the rigorous independent research conducted each year by our volunteer Research Committee. Our members have confidence that the donations we combine together will make a real difference in our community. And they do.”
One of the Women’s Fund most generous members is Betty Elings Wells, who donated $250,000 in a 2-for-1 match for every dollar the Women’s Fund raised above $350,000. The Women’s Fund stretched that matching gift across two years, stimulating increases in the number of members and the size of the grant pools. The organization’s membership has grown from 68 women in 2004 to nearly 600 members. In addition, nearly every dollar members donate is going to meet critical community needs today because generous members underwrite Women’s Fund expenses in addition to their memberships. The Santa Barbara Foundation has been a partner and fiscal home for the Women’s Fund since 2004.
The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara is a collective group of volunteer donors focused on the needs of women, children and families in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Carpinteria. Committed to “Changing Lives Together,” Women’s Fund members pool their charitable donations, research critical community needs and then vote on which agencies will receive the funds collected during the year. For additional information about the Women’s Fund visit www.womensfundsb.org.